Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: April 24th 2012
My rating: 4 stars
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 was an action packed story with twists and turns that leave your heart pounding, a swoony and sweet romance, and a smart, likable, resourceful heroine. This fresh and original story was a winning combination for me.
Seventeen year old Janelle’s life has been far from easy. She’s had to grow up quickly with a bipolar mother and a workaholic father. She’s stepped into the role of parent for her brother, Jared and takes care of most of the household chores that a mother would care for, and her father lets her. She even has to parent her mother who is so unstable Janelle must make sure she eats and doesn’t harm herself or anyone else. In spite of that, Janelle loves her dad fiercely and she has a close relationship with him. She’s always interested in the cases her FBI dad is working on.
Everything takes a crazy turn when Janelle is killed in an accident and is brought back to life by a schoolmate, Ben Michaels. Ben has never been on Janelle’s radar when he hangs out with the stoner crowd and she’s an overachieving AP student. But now he has her full attention because she wants to know what happened. As if that wasn’t enough to stick in an “X-File,” the driver and truck that hit Janelle have unexplainable details that seem to fit into a case her father is working on. Then there is the countdown clock listed at the header of every chapter and you have to wonder: what is it counting down to? It gives an urgency to the story as we find out more about it!
Unraveling was a non-stop action packed ride, but it was more than that. It was a story of a broken yet loving family. The characters and problems they faced felt real even set in this fantastical story. It was easy to relate to Janelle and all that she’s going through because of that. You experience the sadness of Janelle and her family dealing with a mentally ill and poorly functioning mother. I don’t know how I would cope. It would be hard not to be resentful but Janelle handles things. I think this why she comes off as a lot older than seventeen, and I loved her no-nonsense approach to life. She tackled things without complaining but instead looked for a solution for whatever was thrown at her.
My heart swelled over Ben! I wondered right along with Janelle how she never noticed him before. When details of the past come to light you’ll love him even more. Janelle can’t stop thinking about him to the point that another boy she’s been casually dating blends into the background:
It’s weird, though. As he talks, I feel off—like I’m spacing out. I can’t help but think of Ben Michaels hovering over me, his hands on my skin, the way he said my name. The unflinching certainty I was dead and now I’m not—and it’s because of Ben.
I couldn’t stop thinking about Ben either!
Ben is all about Janelle too:
“You’re like gravity to Ben—his own personal gravitational force. He revolves around you. It’s been that way since we got here.”
Unfortunately for these two, bigger things are a stake so they can’t just dreamily stare into each other’s eyes and swoon (dang it!).
This didn’t leave off on a cliffhanger, but at the end you are anxious to get to the next book. I’ll be picking that up very soon! I can’t wait to see how this story turns out.