Friday, May 3, 2013

Book Review: Unbreakable

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 life is finally starting to resume some kind of normalcy. Until Interverse Agent Taylor Barclay shows up. Somebody from an alternate universe is running a human trafficking ring, kidnapping people and selling them on different Earths—and Ben is the prime suspect. Now his family has been imprisoned and will be executed if Ben doesn’t turn himself over within five days.

And when Janelle learns that someone she cares about—someone from her own world—has become one of the missing, she knows that she has to help Barclay, regardless of the danger. 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. But as the clues begin to add up, Janelle realizes that she’s in way over her head—and that she may not have known Ben as well as she thought. Can she uncover the truth before everyone she cares about is killed?

Oh hey sequel to the book I was surprisingly in love with last year.  How are you?  Doing well?  Life treating you good?  Because I was rocked by reading you.

:ahem: Sorry guys, Unraveling made an impression on me (as did the e-book book "Undone" from Ben's POV) that Unbreakable had a bit to live up to.  Which it did.  So breathe easier now.

Quote: "She's so tough, its frightening.  That girl will outlive us all." (pg 331, HC)

That quote up top there is the reason why this duology consistently pleases me.  We're given an idea of what Janelle could have been like if some details had been changed, but largely kept similar.  Unbreakable also addresses the idea that was brought up several times in Unraveling (and "Undone" for that matter), but largely unimportant to the plot.  Its more relevant to this book however--that is the nature of 'doubles' across the multiverses.

Unbreakable doesn't pull punches.  We see the devastation that Janelle's world is left with and its frightening honestly.  Despite how messed up the world is, how insane and militaristic everything is now because its a necessity to keep everyone calm and safe, I wouldn't say all is lost.  Life is far from normal, but there is some normalcy.  Board games, the tedium of school, movie night--these normal activities keep Janelle's world from being completely bleak.

Barclay re-enters the picture and that's an interesting moment.  He just can't turn up, be like 'Hey what's up? Let me follow procedure and explain the really dire circumstances so no one gets the wrong idea and doesn't trust me'. He's just as arrogant and smug as he was in Unraveling, but he's also got a desperate edge.  And desperation makes people...secretive at times.

We learn throughout the novel that the IA (Interverse Agency) is pretty much everything he ever wanted.  He wanted to make a difference, not just in his world, but in others.  Through him we learn more about Prima, about the multiverses and about what could be at stake.  I found that I liked the gradual understanding that grows between Janelle and Barclay, plus he offered a look into the larger picture that Janelle didn't care quite as much about.

Janelle and Ben take a sideways turn that I think would have bothered me more if I hadn't read "Undone".  Without spoiling the choice that Ben makes, one that Janelle finds hard to fathom or forgive (especially after she encounters a similar moment of confusion), makes a whole lot more sense when you realize what he had been through when he made that choice.  Its not perfect and its messy, but from Janelle's POV it makes sense why she's in so much pain because of it. 

My one real complaint with the novel is the repetition.  Maybe because I was so keen to find out what was going on and how it would wrap up I was more easily irritated by Janelle's constant repetition of facts.  How guilty she felt over Alex's death. How much she missed Ben and held his memory so dear.  How much was at stake.  It felt like these things were brought up an awful lot.

In the end however this book keeps you moving at a break neck speed.  Its set over an even shorter time span than the first book (7 and half days give or take some time in the end) and while it seems like a LOT is crammed into that week, when you break it down its not really as much as it feels like (considering how little they slept).  This was a wonderful companion/sequel to Unraveling and well worth checking out!