Monday, September 17, 2012


On the second Monday of every month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review. We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors!

This month's Book Pick is UNRAVELING by Elizabeth Norris.

Unraveling book coverSynopsis (from Goodreads): Two days before the start of her junior year, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit by a pickup truck and killed—as in blinding light, scenes of her life flashing before her, and then nothing. Except the next thing she knows, she's opening her eyes to find Ben Michaels, a loner from her high school whom Janelle has never talked to, leaning over her. And even though it isn't possible, she knowswith every fiber of her beingthat Ben has somehow brought her back to life.

But her revival, and Ben's possible role in it, is only the first of the puzzles that Janelle must solve. While snooping in her FBI agent father's files for clues about her accident, she uncovers a clock that seems to be counting down to something
but to what? And when someone close to Janelle is killed, she can no longer deny what's right in front of her: Everything that's happenedthe accident, the murder, the countdown clock, Ben's sudden appearance in her lifepoints to the end of life as she knows it. And as the clock ticks down, she realizes that if she wants to put a stop to the end of the world, she's going to need to uncover Ben's secretsand keep from falling in love with him in the process.

From debut author Elizabeth Norris comes this shattering novel of one girl's fight to save herself, her world, and the boy she never saw coming.

First Line: "I can tell the exact moment Nick steps onto the beach."

Unlike some of the other books we've featured for YA Book Picks (like LEGEND or BITTERBLUE) this one doesn’t have a "grabby" first line. But to be honest, this book doesn't really need one. The inciting incident—the turning point that propels the whole story forward—happens on page seven. We get to know Janelle and something about her attitude and her family situation… and then boom, we're into the action, hurtling forward toward the inevitable climax.

Highlights: I really liked the characterizations in this book. Janelle, her friends, and her family all had good reasons why they acted the way they did. They weren't one-note characters, and they sometimes behaved irrationally because of strong emotions—like real people do. 

I'm a big fan of sci-fi (and am currently working on a sci-fi thriller of my own!), so the twist in the middle of the book was right up my alley.

And finally: I'm a huge X-Files nerd, so all the references to the show kept putting a grin on my face.

Notes for Writers: If you're writing action, suspense, or thriller, you've probably heard the "ticking clock" advice. Having a deadline or a kill date helps heighten tension and drive the reader forward.

Elizabeth Norris takes this advice literally in UNRAVELING. The book's tagline is "Stop the countdown. Save the world." Each chapter begins with a number that shows exactly how much time is left before… well, you'll have to read the book to find out. But trust me, the stakes are really high.

A Good Read For: Anyone interested in sci-fi and action-packed thrillers, or anyone who wants to see an example of breakneck pacing done exactly right.


  1. Seems like a book I would enjoy! LOVE X-Files. Are you a Fringe watcher by chance?

    I'll have to pick this one up. Thanks!

    1. I haven't seen Fringe yet, but from what I hear it'll be right up my alley. Definitely on my to-watch list (along with Castle. Nathan Fillion... mmmmm)!