Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Unraveling

Unraveling - Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker.Lately, my forecasts for books have been spot-on; books I forecast as one, two, or however many stars by the halfpoint often end up being worth that many stars. My forecast for Unraveling was two stars by the halfpoint of the novel and I'm happy that my forecast was off. Give me a few seconds so I can recover from the whiplash because wow. One minute I'm reading a book that's speeding along at ninety miles per hour and the next, I'm back to a leisurely stroll down the street. I don't get that feeling very often. -breathe in- -breathe out- Okay, I'm good.Unraveling is fast-paced and it's not just due to the storyline; the format helps too. Whoever came up with the idea of mixing short chapters (some are just one page) with chapter headings counting down much like the clock mentioned in the summary? They deserve some extra money for that. If the plot itself and the immediacy of what is coming doesn't keep the reader going, the psychological effect of the formatting might help.Everywhere else is where the book starts falling apart. Ben and Janelle's connection begins with a shot of insta-love, the revelation that Ben has loved Janelle for a very long time (no, that's not spoiling anything, don't worry--you find this out in the first forty pages), and a comparison of how Ben says Janelle's name to how her family members say it. Am I the only person who is put off by those kinds of comparisons? A guy who is in love with a girl and the girl's little brother are going to say her name in very different ways and comparisons make me go eugh. Personal thing.Moving on! For about half the novel, I disliked Janelle, Ben, and their romance, but I grew apathetic to it and then a little fond of it, though not much more than that. Their love starts to feel genuine toward the end of the novel and how it ended for them made me sad for them, but I'm certain the insta-love start is what kept me from becoming fully invested in their relationship.Some of the twists and turns of the novel were a little too easily called. Conversations Janelle eavesdropped on were easy to figure out, but the truth isn't revealed for another hundred pages or so, leaving me impatient. I called BS on the right ones, stuck with the right ones, knew exactly how one would be turned around--a little boring, really. It's not a mystery novel and it never tries to be, but I don't want to figure it all out that easily.What it does try and succeed at being is sci-fi, a genre I can read but do not overly enjoy because science and I are mortal enemies. It's not deep, deep sci-fi, though; it seems like it is once all the talk of Wave Function Collapses came in, but the technical aspects of how everything is done are only lightly discussed. By the end, it becomes more about the necessary science the characters know but the reader doesn't (and doesn't need to). It really depends on what kind of reader you are as to whether or not that is a good thing, but it worked out for me.One scene in particular made me smile: the discussion in Ben and Janelle's AP English Language class about a prompt. It was a man's marriage proposal from a Charles Dickens novel and the way the two of them argued about how the guy was obsessively in love with the woman, what kind of proposal Janelle would like, etc. really connected with me. Maybe I'm just that nerdy. Maybe it's because it's a scene I can actually see happening because I'm taking the same level English class and that's the same kind of work we do in preparation for the big test. Either way, there's something I love about it.The novel's close is enough to keep it a standalone, but its sequel Unbreakable will be out in April 2013. Unraveling hits most of the notes it should as a YA debut, the rough beginning being where it falls out of tune, but that is not necessarily a compliment. Either way, I think Elizabeth Norris is an author I want to keep an eye on.