Unraveling - Elizabeth Norris 3.5 to 4 stars for the first half, and 2 to 2.5 for the second.

The premise of this book was what grabbed me. It reads like an X-Files episode with a dash of Veronica Mars, and I do like my plucky heroines spiced with some badass in the face of the unknown. You know, more along the lines of


rather than, like,


By the way, meme notwithstanding, Janelle is an excellent cook, on top of her dividing up her time as a high schooler and a pseudo FBI sleuth.

For the most part, the book did not disappoint. The characters were strong, and the plot was intriguing. But I found that the further I got along in the book, the tight knitted plot started to unravel and fray, leaving some loose ends and less than well explained plot devices.

Plot Summary
After getting hit by a truck, Janelle is miraculously brought back to life by a boy with, well, unusual abilities. In trying to find out more about her accident, Janelle sneaks peaks at her FBI father's case files, finding instead a countdown... But a countdown to what? And how is this mysterious boy involved in what seems to be the impending end of the world?

There were definitely many positive aspects about this book. To name just a few:

1. The Pace: As the synopsis suggests, the story is very action and goal driven. The book checks in at around 450 pages, but it felt more like 200.

2. The Protagonists: Bombarded as we are with doormat zeroines and Viagra testosterone hyped bad boys with a little too many shades of grey, I found Janelle and Ben to be genuine and sweet. Janelle is surprisingly mature for her age. Partially, this stems from her living situation. With a mentally unstable parent, she had become the de facto mother of the household. I liked reading about a girl who is grown up enough to get her priorities straight, especially since, ya know, the world is about to end.

3. The Chemistry: Janelle and Ben have chemistry. I did see some instances of Instalove, especially on Janelle's part, but overall, I did enjoy reading about the two well enough. Plus, some dudes could really take a leaf from Ben's book in courting women.

However, once I read past the 50% mark, the story took turns that literally came out of nowhere. And by turns, I mean sharp, stomach-lurching, tire-screeching turns that confuses more than thrills.

Plot-wise, the direction that the story took, especially after what I'd like to call the Big Freaking Revelation when Ben reveals that he's from a parallel world really, really forced me to suspend belief. There were a million other ways to resolve the countdown that the book was better equipped to explain. I know fiction is about the impossible, but when the impossible isn't really explained enough, I tend to cry WTF and cock my head suspiciously.

Also, I felt there was way too much going on in this book. It was as if Elizabeth Norris was trying to jam in every single YA trope into a scant 450 pages when the plot was already cruising along at terminal velocity. Also, I didn't feel like I really got to know any of the key characters besides Janelle, and when people started getting hurt, I wasn't sure whether I should feel bad for them or for Janelle, who was affected by the loss.

Overall, 3 to 3.5 stars and recommended. The book started off strong, but gradually lost focus in its character development. I would say my feelings post-read were lukewarm, especially after the end, though more on the warmer side than not. Still, I think this book has enough fun and action that it would appeal to a lot of people, so if you get a chance and enjoy YA, definitely pick this one up!