Stories that mess with your head are all the rage these days. Inception, Looper, Cloud Atlas — all these movies seem to require advanced degrees in philosophy and quantum physics to understand fully, but we’re sucked in anyway. And when a complete mindf— of a story also has compelling characters and hot romance, we’re lost. So we’re super excited that young adult novels and teen-targeted TV shows are getting in on the game too. Elizabeth Norris’ debut novel Unraveling, which came out this May, does what very few books can, blending the kind of high school angst we love with a metaphysical mystery and a touch of sci-fi that doesn’t turn off those who aren’t naturally fans of the genre. No wonder MTV just snatched it up as the basis of its next scripted series.
The novel begins when high school junior Janelle Tenner is hit by a truck and, she’s pretty sure, dies. But Ben Michaels, whom she’s always thought of as a weird stoner kid, somehow brought her back to life. Not only is she intrigued by him (way more than she is by her jock boyfriend), but she’s also compelled to investigate some mysterious (and super gruesome) deaths in a case her FBI agent father is in charge of. Of course, the two are related. And it turns out, the fate of her world depends on her figuring out this puzzle. I’m not going to spoil any more for you. Just know that the chemistry between Ben and Janelle is palpable, and the countdown running through the book is enough to make you break a sweat. If you haven’t yet read it, you have time to catch up and become a fan before the sequel, Unbreakable, comes out on April 23, 2013. We’ve got the exclusive premiere of the cover above, and in a version you can study at length below.