Saturday, October 18, 2014

Unravel by Calia Read Book Review

One of the many ways I find new books of interest is through LibraryThing.  It is an online community similar to Goodreads where you can share your book collection, reviews and general love of reading with other like minded folks.  I discovered the site a few months ago and entered to win a copy of Unravel by Calia Read partially because the cover was incredibly appealing and also because the book's blurb sounded fascinating.  I won this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program and I encourage you to check out their site.  It is a wonderful way to find out about new books and to have the chance to win some to add to your collection.

Although it isn't required that you review the books you receive from this program or from Goodreads giveaways, the authors appreciate your feedback.  I am always slightly torn about posting reviews such as this one where I didn't respond well to the book.  I find however, it's a little unfair for me to sing the praises of a book I didn't care for.  I always try to find something positive to say about the books, and I truly hope they find an audience, even if I am not the reader they're after.  I have checked out the feedback on this book and it has received lots of five star ratings and glowing reviews, but it is certainly not for everyone and I will try to explain why without giving away any spoilers that reveal the mystery or twists in the novel.  The kind people at Random House who sent me this copy for review included a note that said "if you enjoy this book (and we hope you do!), we encourage you to spread the word to friends, family and other books lovers via LibraryThing, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter".  I hope that they also appreciate honest feedback from people like me who didn't quite fall in love with the book.

The main problem I had with Unravel is it simply didn't hold my interest. I picked it up several times and put it back down because I wasn't engaged by the story and was confused by the events of the first chapters.

 At first I thought the author was using an intentionally disjointed writing style to capture the main character Naomi's feelings of anxiety and unease in her clinical environment.  I had to revisit many passages in the book several times to make sense of their placement and purpose in the story.  I began to find the scattered, jumpy text distracting. As an occasional device I may have found it interesting, but it continued throughout the book and discouraged me from connecting with the characters.

Although I am a fan of the new adult genre and often read erotically charged novels, I felt the sex scenes in this book didn't play well. For me, when two characters have an undeniable chemistry it shouldn't be tinged by regret. It seemed every encounter Naomi had was riddled with a sense of anxiety and none of the fun.  It was very disappointing since the book deals with Naomi's time in a mental institution and is told mostly in flashback scenes where she describes her sexual encounters and relationships with Max and Lachlan to her doctor.

I honestly would have abandoned the book if I hadn't received it from the Library Thing Early Reviewers program. I did finish the novel, and realized the "why" behind the descriptions of these flashback encounters and better understood the anxiety they would've caused the main characters.  However, the book contains graphic scenes of sexual abuse, rape and violence were stomach turning and truly horrible.   I could barely get through it.  There was also a sudden, jarring switch of narrator in the last few chapters was bothersome to me.  The choice to switch narrators felt manipulative and like a cheat after I had powered my way through a book I was getting little enjoyment from.  I simply couldn't recommend this book to a friend because the content was disturbing without being tempered with any moments that made me empathize with the characters or gave me hope that the tidy resolution would give them any lasting peace.

This book wasn't for me, but one thing I did truly enjoy was the gorgeous cover art. The frozen water droplets on the cover form a mask of sorts if you see the book at a distance. I found it beautiful, and if I saw it in a store I would be drawn it.  It was what made me read the blurb for the story in the first place.  I feel the cover alone will sell several copies of the book.

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