Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris

The basics

Title: Unraveling


Series: Unraveling #1

- Unraveling (April 2012)
- Unbreakable (April 2013)

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Goodreads Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Janelle Tenner is used to having a lot of responsibility. She balances working as a lifeguard in San Diego with an intense academic schedule. Janelle's mother is bipolar, and her dad is a workaholic FBI agent, which means Janelle also has to look out for her younger brother, Jared.

And that was before she died...and is brought back to life by Ben Michaels, a mysterious, alluring loner from her high school. When she discovers a strange clock that seems to be counting down to the earth's destruction, Janelle learns she has twenty-four days to figure out how to stop the clock and save the planet.

Read a full summary of Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris below. If you can’t remember what happened in Unraveling and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

in short

Janelle is saved from death by a guy called Ben and it’s all very weird because he somehow brought her back to life. The FBI discover a countdown timer, and there’s a rush to figure out what exactly the countdown is for. A bomb? Janelle investigates. Turns out that Ben and his friends are from an alternate universe, and have been opening portals to try to get home. These portals are making the two universes collide, and they’re eventually going to destory each other. A third universe, Prima, sends agents from Interverse Agency to step in. The agents have to find out who is causing the universes to collide (it’s not Ben because he stopped opening portals ages ago) in order to save everyone. If they can’t they plan to set off a device that will destroy Janelle’s universe – this is what the countdown is for. Turns out that Ben’s friend, Reid, was the one opening portals. He also killed Janelle’s dad. The bastard. The IA agents get rid of Reid, and send Ben and Elijah back to their universe.

what happened in Unraveling?

  • Janelle is hit by a truck and killed. But someone – Ben Michaels – brings her back to life. How? We just don’t know.
  • Janelle’s mother is bipolar, and her father works for the FBI. Janelle also has a younger brother called Jared.
  • Janelle’s BFF, Alex, doesn’t believe her about Ben Michaels bringing her back to life. Alex says that Janelle must have imagined dying. He eventually comes around.
  • Janelle investigates the driver of the truck. Janelle wants to know who was driving and where it came from. While searching through her father’s FBI boxes, she finds a picture of a dead man who has severe radiation burns. Someone has written a set of numbers on the photograph: 29:21:33:21.
  • Janelle finds more photos, and they have numbers on them as well. It appears to be a countdown for a UIED – Unidentified Improvised Explosive Device.
  • Janelle confronts Ben about the time he brought her back to life. He denies everything. She thanks him nonetheless.
  • The cops find the truck driver – a John Doe – and he is dead from radiation burns as well. They have no clue who he is. Janelle finds the radiation thing strange, because how could he have been exposed to radiation on the highway?
  • Janelle and her boyfriend, Nick, go to a party. Nick gets wasted and can’t drive her home, so one of the local cops comes and picks Janelle up. A cop, Barclay, picks Janelle up. On the way back to Janelle’s house, Barclay gets a call and drives to a crime scene without taking Janelle home first. Barclay tells Janelle to wait in the car, but of course she doesn’t. There’s a dead guy, and his body is all melted and gross from radiation. There are also three other bodies that the cops can’t identify.
  • Janelle shows Ben that whatever he did to bring her back to life, also healed a scar that she got when she was younger. Ben admits that he can use energy to manipulate molecular structure. He demonstrates on a cut on Janelle’s finger.
  • Janelle reveals that her ex-BFF – Kate – and her new friends drugged her when she was younger, and Janelle woke up hours later missing her pants.
  • Alex and Janelle theorise that the UIED might be a bomb that will release a virus and destroy mankind.
  • Janelle hears Ben arguing with his friend, Elijah, in an alley. Ben says that they “can’t keep opening it. Not until we know how to keep anything else from coming through.” to which Elijah replies “We need to get home.” Ben then says that Ben needs to figure out how to stabilize everything. What.
  • Ben keeps talking about something called a Wave Function Collapse.
  • Janelle breaks up with Nick.
  • Ben takes Janelle out on a date. They get Mexican food. Nomomom.
  • Janelle returns home to find that her mother has locked herself in the house with Jared, and Struz – a family friend – is trying to get in. It turns out that Janelle’s mother is freaking out because Janelle’s father’s body was found in a canyon. He was shot once in the arm and twice in the chest.
  • Janelle hides her father’s case files because they could be important, and they’re probably the reason he died. Struz asks for them back, but Janelle pretends she doesn’t know anything.
  • Janelle and Alex go to a party to to try to get Janelle’s mind off of things. She finds out that a guy called Sam was the one who stole her pants that night when she had been drugged. Elijah tells Janelle that Ben beat Sam up when he heard what was happening.
  • One of the case files says that a man called Mike Cooper was the killer/kidnapper of three unidentified people back in 2010. Janelle discovers that Cooper bought several gallons of chlorine – two different kinds that could be mixed to make an explosion.
  • Janelle goes to Ben’s house, and she finds him, Elijah, and Reid in the basement. Ben tells Janelle that he and his friends are from an alternate universe, and they got to this one by accidentally travelling through a wormhole when they were younger. Reid and Elijah can both manipulate molecular structure as well, to a point, but Ben is the best. Ben and his friends have been trying to open new wormholes, but so far none have worked and anyone who has crossed through them has ended up dead. They’ve opened hundreds of portal in the past six months. The truck that hit Janelle came through one of them.
  • It happened when Reid and Ben were having a joint party. They all went down to Reid’s basement, and into Reid’s father’s home lab. They drank some weird juice. They fiddled with a machine, and it created a wormhole. Ben and Elijah fell into it, and Reid dove in after them. There was also a fourth guy but they don’t know what happened to him. When they reached Janelle’s universe, they were in the ocean. Ben couldn’t swim properly. Janelle saved him.
  • Reid explains their theory that the two universes are moving closer and closer together each time they are connected by the wormholes. Eventually they will collide and cause a Wave Function Collapse, destroying each other. Janelle decides to help them get home.
  • An earthquake his San Diego. It’s the biggest ever earthquake to hit California.
  • Janelle persuades Barclay to find Mike Cooper. He agrees, much to his disgust. He doesn’t like being blackmailed. Ben, Reid, and Elijah take turns watching Cooper’s house. One night they see him. Barclay walks over to Cooper, and instead of arresting him, they have a good chat and they appear to be friends.
  • Janelle takes Jared to Disneyland, just in case the world does end.
  • Struz asks Janelle if she was at the Federal Building that day. Obviously she wasn’t since she was busy going on roller coasters and things. Something is missing from Janelle’s father’s office.
  • Ben turns up at Janelle’s house covered in Elijah’s blood. He says that he, Elijah, and Reid broke into Mike Cooper’s place and found ID. Cooper’s real name is Eric Brandt and he works for Interverse Agency. Brandt turned up and shot Elijah. Ben couldn’t heal him, so he called for an ambulance. Brandt also had files on Janelle’s father and Struz.
  • Barclay comes over to Janelle’s house and asks her what she knows about alternate universes. Apparently Barclay isn’t a real FBI agent, he’s actually from a third universe – not Ben’s, not Janelle’s. This universe is called Prima, and is more advanced. This is where the Interverse Agency is situated. IA polices interverse travel so that no one breaks anything. Barclay tells Janelle that IA agents have a fail-safe device (the UIED) which will destroy Janelle’s and Ben’s universes if they can’t stop the WFC.
  • Barclay promises that it wasn’t he or Barclay that killed Janelle’s father.
  • Barclay goes to Ben’s house on a mission to kill him for opening portals, despite Ben not having opened one in weeks. An earthquake hits, distracting everyone. Barclay takes Janelle and Ben through a portal to Prima. Janelle’s sensitive from the radiation, so Barclay gives her a necklace made from hydrochloradneum to help. He also sedates her.
  • When Janelle wakes up, she sees her and Ben’s universes on some screens. There are various natural disasters going on, and reporters from Prima are, well, reporting it all.
  • Ben takes Janelle back to her universe in order to find Elijah, Reid, and Jared. Janelle goes to her house, but sees that it’s not there any more. It’s collapsed. Struz sees Janelle and tells her that Jared is in the hospital wing of the Federal Building. Alex is at an evacuation shelter, and Janelle’s mother is missing.
  • Struz takes Ben and Janelle to see Jared. Ben and Janelle then go and find Alex. Alex tells Janelle that Reid killed her father. The address of an abandoned house that Reid and Elijah crashed at was found in Janelle’s father’s pocket.
  • Ben, Janelle, and Alex go to the address. Elijah’s there but Reid’s disappeared. Elijah tells them that Reid’s foster parents’ house backs onto the house where those dead bodies were found. Reid arrives at the house. Alex pulls a gun on him, and he runs away. Janelle chases him and catches up. Reid admits that he killed Janelle’s father because he figured out that Reid was involved in the deaths somehow.

how did it end?

Barclay and Brandt arrive on the scene and tell the teens to get down on the ground. There’s a scuffle between Reid and Alex, and Alex gets shot in the neck. Reid raises his gun towards Barclay, and Barclay shoots Reid in the head. Ben tries to heal Alex but it’s no use. Alex dies.

Barclay warns Ben and Elijah to not open portals any more, or to use their abilities. Janelle’s universe will be closed to interverse travel for six months so it can stabilize. Barclay opens a portal for Ben and Elijah to go home before he and Brandt leave.

Ben hesitates before leaving through the portal, but Janelle tells him to go. He tells Janelle that he’ll come back for her, and that he loves her and always will. Then he leaves.

anything else

Wave Function Collapse (WFC) – Two universes colliding and destroying each other.
Suspect Zero – Mike Cooper/Eric Brandt.
Prima – The universe that Brandt and Barclay are from. More technologically advanced than Janelle’s universe.
UIED – Unidentified Improvised Explosive Device.
Oppenheimer – The fail-safe device that will destroy the universes.
Hydrochloradneum – Nullifies the effects of radiation, allowing people to cross through wormholes. It also changes the body’s chemical makeup.

This is a full plot summary of what happened in Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!


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