by Elizabeth Norris

Genre: YA Romance, YA Science-Fiction
Published: April 24th, 2012
by Bazler + Bray




Sixteen-year-old Janelle Tenner is used to having a lot of responsibility. She balances working as a lifeguard in San Diego with an intense academic schedule. Janelle's mother is bipolar, and her dad is a workaholic FBI agent, which means Janelle also has to look out for her younger brother, Jared.

And that was before she died... and is brought back to life by Ben Michaels, a mysterious, alluring loner from her high school. When she discovers a strange clock that seems to be counting down to the earth's destruction, Janelle learns she has twenty-four days to figure out how to stop the clock and save the planet.


Unraveling is Elizabeth Norris’ debut novel and venture into the YA genre, and while certainly not perfect, I found myself on the edge of my seat here.

16-year-old Janelle Tenner shouldn’t be alive. She died in a car crash, but somehow she is still alive, and she knows it’s thanks to a mysterious stranger named Ben Michaels. Shortly after, Janelle happens to find a clock that appears to be counting down the time until Earth is destroyed; and, if that clock means anything, she has only 24 days to save the planet…

The story itself consists of almost two different storylines – Janelle being brought back to life and the countdown. I felt that unfortunately these two storylines became a bit sloppy when combined; and I wish Elizabeth Norris was able to combine them in a way that didn’t feel disjointed.

Unraveling is not by any means a bad debut – it was just extraordinarily cliche. The plot, the characters and the setting are all ones that I have seen done before in other YA science fiction stories; and it seemed as if it simply wanted to put all of the genre stereotypes into one big book, which, not surprisingly, didn’t suit well with me.

While Janelle is not a horrible main character, she is not one to necessarily stand out from the crowd either. She is an intelligent, good student, is sweet and is surrounded by countless friends. It’s hard to connect to a character who you have already read about and empathized with in the past; much less keep the identical protagonists from each book separate in your mind when they are all so similar. And if you can’t remember or distinguish them apart from other main characters, how are you expected to care for them in any way?

The hero Ben is also bit stereotypical as well. He’s sweet and caring, and he saves Janelle on countless occasions. He’s good-looking (according to the heroine…) and is supposedly hiding a deep secret.

Romances are only as good as the characters in the relationship, which is to say that the one here was pretty mediocre. There is a rather severe case of instalove here between Janelle and Ben that I was not particularly fond of. Their relationship was not one that necessarily touched my heart or made me swoon, probably due to the instalove.

Nonetheless, I did enjoy the entertainment values here. The urgency from the countdown is wonderful, and the writing is decent enough. If only it wasn’t so cliche or forgettable! *sighs*


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