Author: Jonathan Friesen
Publisher: Blink, 2017 (January 31)
Genre: YA Paranormal
**I received a copy of the ARC free from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review**
So I read this a bit back and haven’t reviewed it (bad, Stephanie! No candy 🍭 for you!), so I decided I really need to put it up before I forget how the book made me feel and all that.
First, let me tell you about this book, which I had wished for on Netgalley and I remember telling y’all that my wish came true! So I was excited to read this…excited but confused about the genre. Sounded pretty paranormal but also a bit contemporary, so I guess the best way to explain is that it’s a little bit of both?
We read from Jonah’s POV, a teenager with bad scoliosis and seizures. His perspective is great: a little cynical, a little lovesick. Mainly over the child that almost was his sister, but instead became the girl-next-door.
When Jonah was a boy, a large tornado came and deposited a baby girl in between two neighbors’ property. Though Jonah’s mother fights for the child, she loses. Apparently the baby was more on the Pickerings’ lawn. That’s just how the small town of Gullary, Oklahoma works.
Stormi grows up next door to Jonah, and they are best friends…though Jonah secretly (or not so secretly) loves her. He takes care of the old abandoned Supermax prison that was rebuilt after the tornado destroyed it…and all the prisoners escaped. Except one. But that’s a town secret. And Jonah takes care of the old con.
As they grow up, Stormi shows signs of a gift: she always seems to know what’s about to happen. Many of the townsfolk are creeped out by her, though still admit she’s a stunner. Her strange arrival and her weird premonitions…and the times she zones out and stares off into space…but Jonah sees past it all. He loves Stormi anyway.
When a seizure takes Jonah out at an inopportune time, the prisoner he is expected to watch escapes. Jonah doesn’t seem too worried; the man is too old to really be a threat, isn’t he?
But it is strange how he and Stormi, though they never met, share the same strange premonition that Gullary is doomed. And Stormi wants to “get outta Dodge,” so to speak. So Jonah and Stormi try to put together the pieces of a decades long town conspiracy…all while the town is looking for Stormi…they always knew she would be no good.
Can Jonah take care and save the girl he loves when he’s so broken, inside and out? And could a special girl like Stormi really care about a twisted boy with seizures?
Yes. I think it’s got just enough of a paranormal aspect to appeal to the science fictiony fans but more of a contemporary mystery that appeals to many. The small town vibe can be discussed as an interesting microcosm of a high school…and the medical problems Jonah faces help the reader identify with feelings of hopelessness and low self-worth. I like that the book is an easy read, though many who read this will be beating their head against a wall the whole story, trying to figure out what’s going on. It will definitely keep readers interested.
Lexile doesn’t score smaller titles, so this is where I try to do the best I can. Luckily, there’s no swearing and nothing torrid or inappropriate. There is a cult-like vibe throughout the story, but that’s not enough for me to feel it’s inappropriate for readers. To be safe more for comprehension of the plot, I would recommend 13 and up. I do also suggest a more seasoned reader picks this up, as the plot tends to weave around a bit and get a little confusing for awhile. Definitely a patient reader needed here!
I did like the book. Would I read it again? No. Would I read a sequel? Yes. It ends kind of on a cliffhanger, but more of an open-ended one that doesn’t need a follow-up. If you remember The Giver, I would compare the ending to that. It can be interpreted as what is implied. And I’m thinking this is a standalone, so when reading, be prepared to have something linger.
Though I did enjoy the writing and I liked the concept, it wasn’t a be-all-end-all for me. I would give Unfolding three solid stars: ★★★☆☆. So my personalized rating:
Whatcha guys reading? Anything good?