Unraveling Isobel by Eileen Cook
Published: January 3rd, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
290 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Young adult contemporary with a paranormal twist
Acquired this book: From the library
Synopsis: 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.
Unraveling Isobel has a little bit of everything - romance, humour, mystery, and a dash of creep factor. Everything in Isobel’s life is changing and she has absolutely no say. Add to that the fact that she’s worried some of the strange things happening around may be happening in her mind, and you have a story that’s both engaging and entertaining.
I liked Isobel a lot. I thought she was a very real, relatable character. She was sarcastic and feisty, but also had a vulnerable side to her, especially when it came to her mental health. One thing I really loved about her was her thought process. It was so honest. I felt like she thought things that other authors might be afraid to have their characters think. Sometimes I was a bit shocked, but I liked that she didn’t hold back - it made her seem so real, and I found it easy to connect with her.
I adored Nate. He hadn’t had the easiest life, and he was basically an outcast at school because of the drama with his family, but he was still so sweet, and I loved how he cared about Isobel. Part of me thought I should find it weird that Isobel and Nate were step-siblings and were developing feelings for each other, but I really didn’t care. I loved the dynamics of their relationship, and I rooted for them through the entire book.
Isobel’s mom and step-dad drove me crazy! I love when an author writes characters I love to hate, because to me it shows that they’ve done their job - drawing emotion from the reader and making them feel - good or bad. Isobel’s mom seemed so weak and selfish - she didn’t appear to be a stupid person, but when it came to Dick, Isobel’s new step-dad, she was definitely stupid and blind. I just wanted to shake her. She cared more about her own happiness than her daughter’s, and her maternal instincts were seriously lacking. Dick was just a dick. The fact that even Nate, his own son, didn’t have anything good to say about him and would believe he was capable of doing bad things spoke volumes.
As for the story itself, I thought it was a great concept that was well executed. The characters, the humour, the suspense, and the intrigue kept me interested all the way through. There haven’t been many books recently that have caught and held my attention the way Unraveling Isobel did. I found it hard to put down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next.
Eerie, funny, quirky, and sexy, Unraveling Isobel will definitely be making my list of 2012 favourites!
Have you read Unraveling Isobel? What did you think? Have you read any of Cook's other books? Which should I read next?
How do you feel about the whole stepsibling romance thing in novels?
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