Review: Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

Title:  Unraveling
Author:  Elizabeth Norris
Series:  Unraveling #1
Publisher:  Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins
Publication Date:  April 24, 2012
Pages:  445
Format/Source:  eBook/Purchased

Age Group/Genre:  Young Adult/Science Fiction, Mystery

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. (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads)

So “Me” It’s Crazy…

This book is just filled with everything I love.  It’s science fiction (although for a while I thought it might be paranormal, but I don’t consider it to be at all), there’s action right from the beginning, there are twists and turns all throughout, and the main character and her friends have to figure out how to save the world.  This book reminded me of Veronica Mars, FlashForward, Gilmore Girls, Men in Black, Doctor Who, Quantum Leap, and so many other fantastic shows and movies.  I also pictured Andrew Scott, who played Moriarty in Sherlock, as one of the characters, and that really made me love that character even more.

Plus, Elizabeth Norris isn’t afraid to kill off some characters.  I read something recently where someone thought killing off characters was becoming the cool thing to do, the kind of shock-factor thing to do.  While I see that could be the case with movies and TV shows, and possibly adult books, I don’t feel like that’s the case with YA books.  In fact, I’ve read quite a few books where I think a character should have died but they didn’t.  And I think when you have a book with life-and-death stakes, people should die.  It’s realistic.  It’s not very realistic to write a story about people who go to battle and NO ONE dies.  Or to write a book about people with cancer and they all beat it (although I hope one day that’s what’s realistic).  In Unraveling, Janelle and her friends have to save the planet.  They are dealing with some crazy stuff and it’s only realistic that some of the characters in the book are going to die. So I was quite happy with the deaths in this book, even if I didn’t want those specific characters to die.

There are lots of other little things that I really loved about this book but I don’t want to say too much because I think this is a book you should go into knowing as little about as possible.  In fact, I’m glad that I’m such a spoilerphobe that I only read a book’s synopsis once, and by the time I get around to that book I’ve forgotten a lot of the details in the synopsis. Because I wasn’t expecting certain things in this book that are in the synopsis, and personally, that made my reading experience all the more enjoyable.

Bonus Points…

Elizabeth Norris gets some of my Bonus Points for the following reasons:

  • Harry Potter references.  50,000 points.
  • A Firefly reference.  50,000 points.
  • The fact that Ben’s favorite movie is Donnie Darko. (That’s my favorite movie, too.  Possible new book boyfriend for me, maybe?) 50,000 points.
  • This line:  “Harry Potter is a classic”.  Infinity points.

Great Quotes…

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Unraveling:

“How can I ever dare to meet my own eyes again? I can’t. Not even in dreams.”

“I feel flushed but somehow too cold at the same time, and my eyes itch like I need to close them and rub them back into reality.”

“Lives are made of strings of moments, and every once in a while, one of those moments is pivotal and defining.  It changes everything, alters you so completely that when you look back, there’s a clear before and after.”

My rating for Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris:

5 huge stars, and I’ve added it to my Favorites shelf on Goodreads.  This book is definitely me, and I’m very excited to read the second book in the series!
Find it:  Goodreads │ Amazon │ HarperTeen
You may also enjoy:  Hourglass │ Crewel
Disclaimer:  I purchased this book myself.  I was not compensated in any way for this review.


  1. Brandi Kosiner

    June 10, 2013 at 11:46 am

    I so need to get on top of reading this one, sonds great

  2. Andrea @ Cozy Up

    June 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    This book was absolutely amazing, and I loved that Norris was not afraid to kill off characters, I actually was shocked at some of the people she did kill and how they died. Everything about this book was amazing, and I'm really interested to see what she did with UNBREAKABLE, even though this book could be seen as a standalone, I definitely want more of these characters!

  3. fakesteph

    June 10, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    I've got this one on my kindle and I think I'm going to LOVE LOVE LOVE it. I can't wait to read it.

    Unrelated–are you doing Camp Nanowrimo in July?????

  4. Nikki R

    June 11, 2013 at 2:58 am

    I'm so glad you liked this one! I totally thought it was paranormal at first, too, and was blindsided by the scifi elements in the BEST way possible. I love books that deal with parallel universes! Plus the HP and Firefly (!!!) references were pretty much perfection. :D Great review, Andrea!

  5. Kimberly @ On the Wings of Books

    June 13, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    So excited that you loved this one!! I really enjoyed it and I can't wait to read Unbreakable :)

  6. Ashley

    June 13, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Ahh, you might have convinced me to pick this one up :) Sounds fantastic! I loved the bonus points too.

    Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

  7. Kate Midnight Book Girl

    June 13, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    I loved Unbreakable even more, so I doubt you will be disappointed! I really want to hang out with Elizabeth Norris and watch old episodes of X-Files…

  8. Bittner

    June 20, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    Here is my thing about your bonus point system…personally I think that a Firefly reference at least a couple more points than an HP reference. HP is so popular across such a wide range of an audience that SOME people are going to reference it just because it is the cool thing to do. But a Firefly reference is way more subtle. I would say Dr. Who is subtle as well but it is quickly becoming as popular to reference as HP.

    The above comment has nothing to really do with your review itself, which I read and liked. I agree that sometimes people do need to die in books. A really good book can be cheapened by the author tying everything into a bow at the end.

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