Tuesday, April 30, 2013

YA book review: Unraveled by S.X. Bradley

Unraveled by S.X. Bradley
YA contemporary mystery*Paperback/eBook, 276 pages
Published February 8th 2013 by Evernight Teen

Sixteen year old math whiz, Autumn, spends her days reading about serial killers and dreaming of becoming an FBI Profiler. She never dreams her first case will be so personal. Her world is shattered when she comes home from school and discovers her murdered sister’s body on the living room floor. When the initial evidence points to a burglary gone wrong, Autumn challenges the police’s theory because of the personal nature of the crime. Thinking that finding the killer will bring her family back together, she conducts her own investigation using her affinity for math and forensics, but her plan backfires and her obsession with the case further splinters her family.

When her investigation reveals the killer is someone she knows, Autumn offers herself up as bait and sets a dangerous trap to unmask his true nature and to obtain a confession for her sister’s murder.

 I read a lot of YA and I haven't come across a book like Unraveled before. Author S.X. Bradley has created a refreshing contemporary tale which is parts mystery and thriller with a touch of romance. Main character and heroine Autumn is outspoken, strong and independent from the beginning. She's a math whiz and is interested in forensic science. When she discovers her sister's body in their home, the scene is compelling and touching. We see the younger sister not wanting to admit her beloved sibling Celeste is dead. Viciously murdered. And no amount of bargaining with God will bring her back. 

Unraveled moves steadily along as Autumn becomes determined to find out who killed her sister. Things worsen when the police first suspect her. In true Autumn fashion, she asks for a lawyer, while figuring out how she'll prove her innocence. While our heroine employs her smarts, she also has the help of her family. Her cousin Eduardo is a huge supporter and even her papi trusts her to solve the mystery before the police. Along the way, Autumn has to deal with her own grieving, the way some classmates now treat her like Lizzie Borden, and accepting that her friend Caedon wants more than friendship from her. Her karate instructor understands her building rage and gives her private weekend lessons. 

There were touches the author tucked into this story that I really liked. The way Autumn employed mathematical equations while working, her ease with forensic terminology, even her private karate lessons (I really liked the whole part about the soul mentioned). Family was also monumental for Autumn, from Sunday dinners to helping her parents out in the bakery, seeing the support system she had was poignant and gave the story incredible realism. Even Caedon and Voss added nuances to an intriguing story.

My only comments are there were a couple of spots where we spent too much time in Autumn's head which slowed the pacing down. I also thought a certain development later on needed to be expanded upon. The climatic scene, though disturbing and well done, did seem rushed. I do want to applaud S.X. Bradley for creating such a remarkable character with Autumn. She is the type of young woman we need to see more of in today's YA.

An incredibly gifted teen takes it upon herself to solve the murder of her sister, learns to defend herself, embraces her intelligence and falls in love for the first time. Nancy Drew grows up into Veronica Mars while following in Clarice Starling's footprints in Unraveled, an intense contemporary YA murder mystery. Recommended.

Rating: 4

Cover comment:
For such a compelling story, this cover doesn't reflect the book at all. I don't get the soccer field in the background. Celeste was a track star and Autumn didn't play soccer. What's up with the rope? This could use a redesign.

Book source:
I received a complimentary copy in return for my honest review.

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