Previous Installment: Unraveling
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?
NOTE: Please keep in mind that this review contains necessary spoilers for Unraveling, the first book in this series. As much as I tried to write this without spoiling the first book, it became apparent that doing so is practically impossible. Nothing I mention will be worse than what’s already in the summary for this book, but I just wanted to mention it all the same!
Unbreakable picks up four months after the events of Unraveling. Janelle’s world is a mess, Ben has gone back to his own world, and Janelle is still reeling in the aftermath of everything that happened to her and those she loves. Pretty quickly into Unbreakable, though, a new problem arises in the form of Interverse Agent Taylor Barclay, who comes to Janelle with some pretty devastating news: Ben is in some serious trouble, and Barclay needs Janelle’s help to try to figure out who’s actually responsible for the situation. Not only that, but one of Janelle’s friends has gone missing, and Barclay is pretty sure that her disappearance ties into the whole mess with Ben.
“I’m trying to compliment you,” Barclay says. “Can’t you just say thanks?”
What I loved the most about this book is the fact that Janelle is incredibly strong and stubborn. She’s determined to help where necessary, and while she misses Ben, she doesn’t allow her sadness to overwhelm her. There is just something very satisfying about reading a book from the point of view of an extremely well-written, well-crafted main character, and it’s Janelle’s strong narration that really helps pull the reader into the story. I also adored Barclay and Janelle’s relationship. He’s tough and arrogant, but he really brought out the best in her, and made her believe in herself and attempt things she otherwise would not have. I couldn’t believe the situations he put her in, and the way she flourished and did what needed to be done. It was just a very satisfying partnership, for lack of a better word, and one I thoroughly enjoyed reading about.
“That’s how I am where I am, baby.”
Oh yeah, the smugness is back and it’s bad.
I am the first to admit that I did not like Barclay at all in Unraveling. And yet, I found myself swooning rather horribly over him in this book. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the tough love approach, and that’s basically what he was doing with Janelle in Unbreakable. But at the same time, he was also soft with her when necessary. For a guy who’s exceedingly arrogant – with good reason, mind – he seemed to know when to give a little and just provide the support she needed. I also loved that we got some background on him, because it really helped put his character in perspective. He was a fascinating character, one who was tough, stubborn and bad-ass when required, but also willing to provide a shoulder for her to lean on. The way they interacted with each other was amazingly well-written, with quick quips, fiery comebacks and sharp retorts, but also gentle admonishments and easy humor. I just came away from this book really loving him a whole lot, to the point where he actually out-shined Ben, which I wouldn’t have thought was possible, considering how much I loved him in the first book. But Barclay was just really amazing. ♥
Unbreakable has the same quick pace and breakneck action of Unraveling, but in some ways, the stakes in this book are even higher. There’s a lot of danger and intrigue, and quite a lot of darkness; some of the things Janelle does had me flinching and trying to read through my fingers, but it was all extremely realistic and well-written. The book is achy in several places, and deals with some tough subjects, but Elizabeth Norris handled them all with a deft writing style that leaves the reader on the edge of their seat. I was extremely satisfied with the way Janelle and Ben’s journey ended, and can easily recommend this series to pretty much everyone.