14 January 2012

Review: Unraveling Isobel

Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook
Publication date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother. But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling—her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts. Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.

First, I don't think that the cover matches the feel of the book. The cover, to me, says "Hi! I'm a happy and quirky book!" No, Unraveling Isobel, you are not a happy, quirky book. You are a psychological thriller (of sorts) meets contemporary meets mystery meets horror with a slightly depressing story line. I mean, Isobel, the main character is pretty darn snarky and pretty darn hilarious, but I don't think this should encompass the whole book. Anyway...

From the first page, I was immediately drawn into Isobel's world. I felt her pain when she experienced a huge life change: her mom marries a man she met online and has only known for three months. Isobel is forced to leave behind her old school and friends and move to a small island with an even smaller population. Plus, she has to deal with her new creepy step-father "Dick" and a step-brother who apparently doesn't want Isobel there either. I didn't have a problem with the romance of Nate and Isobel even though they are step-siblings. This is probably because they didn't grow up together, so it's not like their love is too taboo. If they had grown up together and then started to fall in love that is when I would have probably thrown up in my mouth a bit, but since they didn't, I found them to be adorable together. Unraveling Isobel can bring the  creepy and there were a couple of times I got goosebumps while reading certain scenes. I also enjoyed the book's view on mental illness. Mental illness isn't something discussed much in YA fiction (though a lot of this year's book releases look to change that, I've noticed) and I think the book sheds some light on a topic not normally dealt with in teen literature.

Now onto what I didn't like. There's a point in the book where Isobel's mom and Dick believe that they need to send Isobel away for treatment of schizophrenia. 1) She has yet to be diagnosed with it and 2) I don't think Isobel ever does anything bad enough to warrant this. It actually takes a lot to be put into 24 hour psychiatric care. This decision (and a supposed doctor's agreement with never having met her) seems too easy for me. The pacing is a bit here and there and I feel like there is a lot of build up to a so-so ending. Actually, it ended exactly how I thought it was going to, BUT there's a nice little bow that wraps it all up if you've been reading too many books with open/cliffhanger endings, like me.

All in all, it was an okay read for me. It's not a story that will stay with me, but I enjoyed it while I was reading it. Ultimately, I think Unraveling Isobel is more of a paperback buy.

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