24 meets the X Files in the amazing follow up to Unravelling.
Four months after Ben disappeared through the portal to his home universe, Janelle believes she’ll never see him again. Her world is still devastated, but civilisation is slowly rebuilding, and life is finally starting to resume some kind of normality. Until Interverse agent Taylor Barclay shows up. He’s got a problem, and he needs Janelle’s help. Somebody from an alternate universe is running a human trafficking ring – kidnapping people and selling them on different Earths. And Ben, with his unique abilities, is the prime suspect. To make things worse, Janelle learns that someone she cares about – someone from her own world – has become one of the missing.
Now Janelle has five days to track down the real culprit. Five days to locate the missing people before they’re lost forever. Five days to reunite with the boy who stole her heart. Can she uncover the truth before everyone she cares about is killed?
In this heart-pounding sequel to Unravelling, author Elizabeth Norris explores the sacrifices we make to save the people we love and the worlds we’ll travel to find them.
Please note that Unbreakable is the sequel to Unravelling. As a result this review contains spoilers for Unravelling.
Although the Earth was spared from complete annihilation, there was no do over, no fairy godmother to wave a magic wand, no cat-in –the-hat-like-trick to reverse the chaos of the narrowly averted Wave Function Collapse. Utilities, monetary and government infrastructure have all but collapsed; no running water, no electricity and food and other supplies are bartered. The government is in tatters and marshal law is in force. Amongst the rubble of her ruined neighbourhood, our girl, Janelle, has carved out a role for herself “interning” for the FBI and helping to investigate the alarming number of missing persons cases.
It took 24 days for Janelle’s challenging, but ultimately normal, teen life to irrevocably change; 24 days to mysteriously survive being hit by a truck, to fall in love, solve a series of gruesome murders, have her understanding of the universe turned on its head, 24days to prevent the total destruction of two worlds ( read my review of Unravelling here).
So five days to expose a human trafficking ring and find and clear the name of the boy she loves should be a synch? Right? Except Janelle will have to walk away from her struggling but familiar world and team up with (and not to mention trust) the arrogant IA (Interverse Agency) agent, Taylor Barclay. Oh, and Ben could be in any one of hundreds of parallel universes.
I really enjoyed jumping straight back in to Janelle’s life and reconnecting with our independent, resourceful and self-sufficient heroine. Janelle has had to adapt, grow and harden to survive the experiences of book one and the subsequent fall out, but she has still retained a strong sense of rightness, of justice, and a protective personality.
Like Unraveling Unbreakable was a twisting and turning, Sci fi mystery. For me a lot of the page turning, edge of the seat appeal of Unbreakable was due to being completely surprised by the direction (and in many ways, the genre) Norris took the story and my attempts to predict where we would go next.
Unbreakable felt like much more familiar territory and as a result I found that I could simple relax in to the story and allow Norris to take me on a fast paced, action packed journey.
While Janelle had spend 4 months heart sore at Ben’s absence from her life. For Norris’s readers, it had been at least twelve months since we turned the final pages of Unravelling, and witnessed Ben walk away from Janelle, with the promise to return (I’m sure that I wasn’t the only one to immediately log on to Goodreads to check that there was going to be a sequel!).
I missed Ben.
And boy did Norris prolong the agony and keep us waiting! When we finally came face to face with our boy, it was not quiet the reunion the romantic in me was hoping for. Both Janelle and Ben had been through so much, and made sacrifices to survive and to find there way back to each other. They had to decide, given the carnage in the wake of their relationship, if love is enough.
I really liked Norris’ handling of the couple’s separation. It felt like a healthier example, than other YA relationships I have read.
Unbreakable shows us the aftermath of disaster and the rebuilding of society, and in many ways these themes are reflected in Janelle and Ben’s relationship. Who hasn’t experienced a youthful break up of epic, apocalyptic proportions!
With or without Ben, Janelle is a survivor and although her heart hurt to be separated from him when Ben returned home, she doesn’t curl up in a snot bubble, basted, ball or partake in questionable risk taking behaviour, she picks herself up and carves out a life for herself. There are even hints at the potential for Janelle to develop other meaningful relationships.
Verdict: I really enjoyed Unbreakable (more so than Unraveling). I am sure that should Norris choose to write another book in her parallel-world hopping universe, I would enjoy it even more (hint, hint).
Reviewed by Caroline