Cover Me: The cover didn’t really do much for me. It’s cool and all, but it didn’t grab my shoulders, shake me until my nose almost bled, and demand I read the pages immediately. What did get me to pick it up were the great reviews on Twitter and Goodreads. Things like “couldn’t put it down” and “great suspense” captured my $9.99. (So if you are an author and don’t use those outlets, you should consider the benefit of getting on the bandwagon).
Concept: Janelle is hit by a car and brought back from the dead by a boy from school she doesn’t pay attention to named Ben. She doesn’t understand it, but spends the first half of the book trying to figure how it’s possible. What she really discovers is Ben is from a parallel universe and accidently fell into hers. There is a bigger problem now with both worlds being drawn together. If they collide, everyone’s dead.
The Peeps: The people make this story. Ms. Norris does an excellent job of creating some cool characters. Janelle is a strong main character who you believe can take on all these steps as they come. I like Ben who has been secretly in love with Janelle for years. (Sometimes even a bit stalker-like.) But he’s protected her when she needed it and he trusted her with his big secret. He’s also mysterious. What’s not to love?
What I was most impressed with were the surrounding peeps. They were engaging, fun, and had a purpose, which is very impressive. This is an area where books usually skim over in the personality department unless it’s a set up. Not the case in Unraveling. Friends and family were three dimensional and sucked you in more to the worry of the world ending.
The Ending (spoiler alert!): Mid-way through, the stakes are raised when Janelle’s father is killed as part of his investigation. I have to admit, I was crushed. Ms. Norris had done such a great job of setting up his personality I was sad not only for Janelle but for myself when he showed up dead. (Huge kudos here.) This does drive Janelle deeper into the story and answers the question of why she can’t ignore the whole thing all together.
By the end, there’s been major damage done to Janelle’s Earth, but it’s still turning. I really liked the destruction from natural disasters as the two worlds get closer. This is one of those little things about keeping it real and messy. Part of the mess includes Janelle’s best friend taking a bullet and Ben going back to his Earth. I’m still not sure how I feel about all this. Don’t get me wrong, I love that Ben leaves. That was perfect and painful, but did I mention perfect.
The part I was sad for was when her BFF Alex takes a bullet to the throat and doesn’t live. I was like “Wha?!?!” Not to mention it happened really quick and was kinda lost in a bunch of action. Geez, throw the girl a bone and leave her one person to love. Some may say she has her brother still, but he’s a love and a responsibility. That’s different. My conflict with burying Alex is a direct result to the above section about how well the peeps were done. I liked Alex and was sad to see him go. (This after recovering from the dad’s death.) Could I be more clear about how much I enjoyed the character development in this book?
While the beginning of the book took me a little while to get going, once I was about 100 pages in I couldn’t stop. Short chapters and great writing keeps you moving quickly and wondering about what happens, who’s behind it, and how it will end. Is there a better description of a successful thriller?
What I Cooked Up: Trying to come up with a baked good inspired by a book about melting bodies was a challenge. Once I really thought about it, chocolate seemed the natural choice. Since Ms. Norris’ agent (the awesomest Janet Reid whom I love, not as much as Meredith Barnes, but gush about just the same) is a fan of the cupcake, I thought cake would be a good thing to incorporate. The last idea of wanting some sort of black hole to represent the portal to other worlds left me with only one baked good that made sense. To represent Unraveling, I baked a Molten Chocolate Cake.
(My kids were very disappointed it did not have real lava in the inside.)
FYI– The recipe I chose is more of a souffle than a cake. It was light, airy, and very rich. I will also say it was very easy to create. I highly recommend the dessert and the book.