Release Day Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

April 24, 2012 Review 6

Unraveling Title: Unraveling
AuthorElizabeth Norris
Series: Unraveling #1
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Paranormal YA
Excerpt: No
Source: ARC Swap
Reviewed by: Abigail

  • Reading level: Ages 13 and up
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray (April 24, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 0062103733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062103734
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Sexual Content:
Kissing. References to sexual assault and attempted rape.


Excellent – Loved it! Buy it now & put this author on your watch list.


Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she’s opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows—with every fiber of her being—that Ben has somehow brought her back to life.

But her revival, and Ben’s possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI agent father’s files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something—but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what’s right in front of her: Everything that’s happened—the accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben’s sudden appearance in her life—points to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets—and keep from falling in love with him in the process.

From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl’s fight to save herself, her world, and the boy she never saw coming.


UNRAVELING by Elizabeth Norris is like a mash up of the TV shows Veronica Mars and Roswell if they were written by Lauren Oliver. If you are anything like me, you don’t need to hear another thing about this book.  In fact you already jumped to your favorite online store to order it.

Roswell + Veronica Mars x Lauren Oliver = UNRAVELED by Elizabeth Norris


If you do need the actual review. Here it is. To paraphrase a line from Janelle, this book is crack.  The writing, the characters, the plot twists.  Everything is excellent and purposeful.  There are no dull scenes, no throw away characters, no empty dialogue exchanges. Everything in UNRAVELING matters and contributes to an overall stellar YA debut.

The writing more than anything else really shines in this book.  Norris has a gift for language and phrasing that was very evocative of Lauren O
liver (DELIRIUM, BEFORE I FALL), and she uses that gift to convey rich and cliché free characters.  Janelle is the protagonist and she exactly the kind of girl I would have wanted to be friends with in high school. She doesn’t play games with her emotions (or anyone else’s), she is self reliant, selfless, and extremely intelligent (both street smarts thanks to her FBI agent father, and book smart thanks to her own unquenchable thirst for knowledge). She was mature, but not in an unbelievable adult way.

Dealing with her bi-polar mother’s mood swings has taken up most her life in the past several years.  She’s become a parent to her younger brother and a source of stability for her workaholic father.  Inwardly she is hollow, empty, until a guy she barely knows brings her back to life after a fatal car accident.  Events begin to transpire in Janelle’s world that defy explanation.  Bodies with unexplained burns and no identities are turning up, and after snooping in her dad’s files, Janelle finds something that connects her mysterious savior, the murders, and an event that may destroy the world.

The Veronica Mars-esque investigation gets sidelined by a heartbreaking and unexpected romance, a tragic death, and a super cool sci-fi twist that both shocked and fascinated me.  I fell hard for all these characters and suffered each joy and sadness with Janelle. UNRAVELING does fly fast and free with the f-bomb, much more than I’m used to reading in YA, and I think the length could have been trimmed down just a bit to keep the pacing at a pulse-pounding speed, but everything else was so strong that I can whole heartedly recommend this book. There are a few unresolved storylines that I’m anxiously waiting to read more about whenever the unnamed sequel is published.

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