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Fatal accidents, terrorism, gruesome deaths and a trio of boys with mysterious origins -- there's more than enough plot swirling around in "Unraveling." Except for the stuff about high school, this gritty sci-fi romance actually feels more like a novel for adults, with lots of death, destruction and a situation that might end the world.

Walking back from the beach, Janelle Tenner is hit by a car. She dies. But mere seconds later, she is brought back to life by the mysterious stoner Ben, with all her injuries healed.

Unsurprisingly she wants to know how Ben did this. But she's also distracted by something even more serious -- the FBI has found a mysterious device that is counting down to' something. And bodies are cropping up all over San Diego, hideously melted by some kind of mysterious radiation. Janelle and her friend Alex suspect that it's some new kind of terrorism.

But when tragedy hits Janelle's life, her quest becomes much more personal. She continues searching for the terrorist, only to find that Ben and his friends Reid and Elijah might be involved -- and when she finds out the truth of why they are in San Diego, she realizes that this is far bigger than a terrorism threat. Unless they stop what is happening, the entire world has only days left.

I was expecting a pretty standard paranormal romance in "Unraveling," and was pleasantly surprised with the sci-fi novel I got instead. It's a strong fusion of contemporary thriller and sci-fi adventure, although we don't see nearly enough of the sci-fi. And Norris also doesn't skim over the more painful aspects of the characters' lives, such as the aftermath of a loved one's death.

Instead she winds together the various plot threads into a steely, tightly-wound rope, so that pretty much everything ends up being interconnected. Her writing is strong, smooth and very natural, and she slowly raises the stakes as the story unwinds. There IS some romance, but it's actually secondary to the main plot instead of BEING the main plot.

And given how many Bella Swans currently populate teen fiction, it was nice to read about someone like Janelle -- she's strong, capable and unafraid to confront others (whacking a would-be rapist over the head with a beer bottle). She also has genuine problems, such as having to care for her mentally ill mother, which leaves her with conflicting feelings of love and resentment.

The weakest character, sadly, was Ben. He's too broodingly tormented; occasionally you just wanna smack him and tell him to lighten up. But the other characters -- such as Janelle's loving dad, his buddy from the FBI, the foul-mouthed Elijah and the delightfully nerdy Alex -- are beautifully drawn and well-developed.

The biggest problem is that the end left me unsure whether there was going to be a sequel. There were some dangling plot threads -- such as Janelle's mom -- but otherwise it feels very final.

"Unraveling" is a powerful, suspenseful sci-fi novel, much more intelligent and emotional than your average teen romance, and it has an excellent heroine to boot. Absolute must-read.
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on June 4, 2013
View more of my review and others at my blog: [...]

If you take Fringe and X-Files then add a little Young Adult in there you will get Unraveling. This book kept my working, while Ben kept my heart fluttering. Janelle is a very independent character and smart character that is determined to find things out. But, before her big accident the only thing she really has to worry about was her family, afterwards she has the world on her shoulders. And on that Janelle loses a lot in this book, when she doesn’t have much left in her life to begin with. But, we soon find out that Ben is pretty much in the same boat. He’s a fish out of water and he isn’t what he seems. Coming off as a loner/stoner type we find out that Ben is actually pretty darn smart, and determined, and caring. And, it’s all rolled up into a nice tall package that Janelle finds yummy. This book was filled with mystery, dramatics, romance, and adventure and kept me coming back for more. I will admit that there was a lot of flash backs to better and/or sad times in Janelle’s life, which were probably there to make up feel for Janelle and understand her better, but I found it slowing the book down. The book is pretty large and I felt that there was a lot of slow moments throughout it, basically for something so large a lot didn’t really happen until the end of the books. That’s not to say that stuff doesn’t happen in the beginning of the book, because it does. In the first chapter (only a couple of pages in) is when everything starts. But then days go by of Janelle and Alex researching before she even talks to Ben, then more days go by before something else happens. I did just find myself being easily distracted until a little over half-way through then stuff really spiced up. However, when something happened (even in the beginning) it was big.


Janelle--She strong (because she has to be), she’s determined, smart, and outgoing. And, when she finds out you messed with her, or her family...she knows how to kick some butt.

Ben--Intelligent, caring, determined, and trying to do what’s right for himself, his friends, Janelle, and the world.

Struz-Kind of seems like the older brother, but he’s really her dad’s FBI partner, and every once in a while he takes charge. He kind of reminds me of Chuck from Chuck. Just a big geek. I hope there is more of him to come.

The party scene- Although it was a pretty difficult moment for Janelle it gave her peace of mind, and it showed Ben’s true colours. I may have fallen for him at that very moment.


Some parts were slow, and I think it would definitely take some understanding of Science to fuller understand everything that they were talking about.

Overall (Writing style, story line, and general):

Overall I really did enjoy this read even if I found it occasionally slow. When the adventure got going it was enough to hold me on till the next big moment in the book. I loved Ben and how he saw Janelle, and how Janelle was able to pick up suttle things about Ben and see him for who he really was, when others would simply label him. The writing was very well done, and easy to follow. I was pretty impress that there wasn’t some small science talk, but real and in-depth scientific theories in this novel. It makes us English majors with minors in Science pretty happy. Overall this book left me smiling and crying. And, yes...I have already stepped out and purchased the second one.
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on December 4, 2012
Walking home from school, Janelle gets hit by a truck and dies, but then wakes up again with her classmate Ben hovering over her. She believes he healed her and is determined to find out why and how. I can’t write anymore just because it would spoil everything and I don’t want to do that!

As for the characters?? Janelle was an interesting enough character. I like how she’s incredibly intelligent and has a photographic memory. She does have quite a temper I might add. She has reason to be though. As for Ben? Well I just hope to see more of him in the next book! Even the secondary characters like Janelle’s best friend Alex plays a big role.

Just reading the synopsis for this just made me want the ARC even more! Girl saves the world? Why the hell not? I love how the chapters countdown the impending doom. The concept is definitely original and I love how everything unraveled. (hah I just had to). There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the characters and so many questions Janelle wants answered and believe me, she gets them answered. Can I see this on the silver screen? YES! I’d love for this to be a movie. I just hope it would be done well. Highly recommended for any science fiction, and mystery lover!
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on January 14, 2013
The one thing that scares me from reading a book that's past 400 pages is that it will drag. But Unraveling turned out to be fast paced, with a cliffhanger at the end of every "chapter" (the book is divide by time frames). I enjoyed Janelle, although I found her at times too sacastic and the way she disliked her Mom got on my nerves, but no one is perfect. It is nice to see a character who can be both pretty, intelligent and not afraid to pick up a gun.
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on May 3, 2016
I loved it!
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