Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,
Rowyn
rowyn

Unraveled, by Courtney Milan

This is the third and last book in the Turner series I've been reading. It's also my favorite of the three. The characters are refreshingly forthright about what they want, and there's a lot of good banter. The characters are lovable and their motivations clear and intelligible.

One of the things I like best about Milan's work are its contra-trope facets. This one works against the idea of the "broken hero that only the heroine can fix through the power of LOVE". The male lead in Unraveled had a traumatic childhood, and he's quite plainly traumatized by it. But he's got established coping methods, functions fine in society despite the trauma, and doesn't regard himself as "broken". Neither does the female lead. It's cute.

Another thing: in each of Milan's books, there is at least one point where one of the leads has the opportunity to pick up the Stupid Ball. This is a chance to do something profoundly awful that the protagonist doesn't really want to do. The protagonist is given a handful of quasi-sound justifications for picking up the Stupid Ball. The reader, however, can tell that doing so will damage the relationship between the two protagonists, betray the trust of one of them, and benefit no one in the long term. This will happen around two-thirds of the way through the book, so the reader knows there's still time to patch over the damage from the Stupid Ball, and it's frankly exactly the sort of stupidity one expects in a romance novel. (Like "let's be irrationally jealous of this clearly platonic relationship!") The protagonist will then consider all of the reasons to pick up the Stupid Ball and run with it. And then, the protagonist will go "Nah, forget that, it's obviously a terrible idea." THIS IS SUCH A RELIEF. It's as if your favorite sitcom looked like it was about to use that plotline you hate and you're already cringing in anticipation of how bad it will be, and then it's all "HA FAKE OUT" and the episode is about something good instead.

Unraveled does have a poorly-developed sideplot with a resolution that's simplistic and naive, so I'll mark it down for that. But the central romance is delightful. I'll give this one an 8.5.
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