Elizabeth Norris STOP THE COUNTDOWN. SAVE THE WORLD…
Leaving the beach, seventeen-year-old Janelle Tenner is hit head on by a pickup truck.
Then Ben Michaels, resident stoner, is leaning over her. And even though it isn’t possible, she knows Ben somehow brought her back to life…
Meanwhile, Janelle’s father, a special agent for the FBI, starts working on a case that seems strangely connected to Ben. Digging in his files, Janelle finds a mysterious device – one that seems to be counting down to something that will happen in 23 days and 10 hours time.
That something? It might just be the end of the world. And if Janelle wants to stop it, she’s going to need to uncover Ben’s secrets – and keep from falling in love with him in the process…
Balancing a complicated home life, with a summer job she excels at and a budding romance with the hottest boy at school, Janelle is a busy but ordinary teen girl, until the evening she is hit by a truck and dies.
As she lies dying in the road, images of her life flash before her, only these images are not Janelle’s memories, they are the observations of another. Aware of hands upon her broken body, Janelle experiences an overwhelming heat fusing her broken bones and forcing life in to her still heart. Coming to, she finds herself looking in to the eyes of Ben Michael, a mysterious boy, she has known for most of her life, but never spoken to. Struggling to come to terms with her experiences of resurrection Janelle is drawn to Ben, determined to discover all that she can about him, his powers and the circumstances surrounding her accident.
While reading a book or watching a movie, I take great delight forming theories alongside the protagonist and I pride myself on my ability to predict the plots twists and turns – however, this book completely threw me. With no knowledge of the books genre, I started reading the book with certain expectations and theories to the origin of Ben’s powers and found that the story took a completely different turn to the one I was anticipating. This certainly kept me on my toes and turning the pages.
Initially the book focuses on Janelle’s accident, her struggle to find meaning in her survival and her growing friendship with Ben. This relationship is allowed to develop at a seemingly leisurely pace, however a Countdown clock heads each chapter from the very first, so although the story progresses with the impression of all of the time in the world as a reader you are on edge knowing that the countdown to something significant has began and that our protagonist is unaware. As the story evolves and the event we are counting down too is revealed, the chapters become shorter adding to the increased pace of the story.
On the whole I enjoyed this book but I did have a few niggles which made it difficult for me to suspend my disbelief and become completely absorbed in the story. While I understand Janelle’s rationale for not sharing the information she uncovers, the predominant one being her family history of mental illness. I just could not understand how the FBI allowed her to take the liberties she did while undertaking her own investigation. The family connection just wasn’t a strong enough reason for me and I felt that it should have been harder for Janelle to snoop at the classified information she accessed.
On two occasions when providing the reader with additional information crucial to the plot the author told us about conversations which had taken place rather than showing them to us. While telling rather than showing is a common complaint amongst book reviewers, I’m usually impassive about it. However in this instance the approach was so different from the rest of the book that I found the experience jarring and it pulled me out of the plot. Despite these niggles I would be very happy to read a sequel and I will be looking out for Norris’ future works. Verdict: Unexpected twists and turns kept me turning the page. Reviewed by Caroline