Book Review: Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris

Unravelling by Elizabeth Norris

Genre: Young Adult, Science-Fiction, Romance, Mystery

Publishing Info: June 7th 2012 by HarperCollins Children’s Books

Pages: 445

Star Rating: 3.5/5


Back Cover Summary:


Leaving the beach, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit head on by a pickup truck.

And killed.

Then Ben Michaels, resident stoner, is leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows Ben somehow brought her back to life…

Meanwhile, Janelle’s father, a special agent for the FBI, starts working on a case that seems strangely connected to Ben. Digging in his files, Janelle finds a mysterious device – one that seems to be counting down to something that will happen in 23 days and 10 hours time.

That something? It might just be the end of the world. And if Janelle wants to stop it, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets – and keep from falling in love with him in the process…


I really wanted to love this book. When I started it I was really into it, really enjoying it, really gripped by it, then I don’t know what happened. It started off so well with lots of mystery and suspense. Then it took a different turn and went in a completely different direction to what I was expecting (won’t give away any spoilers). I like books which surprise me and aren’t predictable, so this is a good thing. It’s also a bad thing because what started out as a thrilling mystery suddenly turned into a bizarre science-fiction revelation. I love science-fiction, but I just didn’t like this angle in this particular book. It had great potential as a thriller, but the science-fiction just made it unbelievable and too out there. It spoiled what started out as a great book, in my opinion.

Janelle’s character was good and fairly likeable, though I know some other readers have commented that they found her annoying. I felt she didn’t really change that much as a character and there was much more potential for Norris to develop her character and improve her character arc. Ben Michaels was a good ‘love interest’ character, but he wasn’t anything spectacularly different from all the other characters out there. Norris adopted the all-too-familiar love interest who is different inside to the image he projects on the outside. What was good to see was the ‘romance’ treated as a side plot, not the main focus of the story like it is in so many teen and young adult books.

There were several other important characters. The relationship between Janelle and her brother is portrayed very well and also Janelle’s friendship with Alex is believable. However I found Elijah an annoying character because he always seemed to be yelling. I get he’s a troubled character but he just seemed a bit too over-the-top.

The writing style was good – Janelle’s voice was sustained well all the way through – but nothing particularly new or interesting. I felt the book dragged on a bit. It was quite long and I don’t really think it needed to be so long and drawn out.

I wasn’t particularly happy to find out there are going to be more books in this series. The story ends at the end of the book, yet there are going to be more of them. It always seems to be the case with teen and young adult books that it has to be a series. Sometimes they would work better as a standalone and in this case more books really aren’t necessary. I probably won’t be reading them, not because I didn’t enjoy this one, but because I’m happy with where the story ended in this book.

Overall I enjoyed reading Unravelling, mainly because I liked the element of mystery in it and Norris managed to surprise me. I only gave it 3.5 stars because it didn’t blow me away. It wasn’t bad by any means but it wasn’t amazing.


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