Go on an out-of-this-world archaeological adventure with UNEARTHED!
Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner are hurtling through space once again in Unearthed, their first new adventure since the conclusion of the Starbound trilogy in 2015! The story is taking readers out-of-this-world once again, but with a whole new group of characters and a fresh setting to drool over.
Earth’s resources are slowly whittling away, bringing out the worst in humanity in its wake, but there’s still hope thanks to a newly discovered planet called Gaia. While it’s not suitable for rebuilding a new civilization, humans who were led to the planet’s surface by an ancient, coded transmission found a valuable piece of energy tech that could power the whole west coast of the US. And so the cutthroat competition to discover the secrets of Gaia began.
Mia (short for Amelia) is a scavenger, which means her trip to Gaia isn’t necessarily sanctioned. It may make her an international criminal, but she’s counting on finding the next major prize of tech on Gaia so she can save her sister from dangerous circumstances back on Earth. Jules is the son of a famous scientist-turned-laughing-stock who came to Gaia with a corporate expedition, only to find himself stranded. While he came to the new planet under the guise of an archaeology mission, he’s on a desperate mission to prove his father’s theory: That Gaia and its ruins conceal a threat beyond humanity’s wildest imagination. When the two collide, they see the potential in each other and team up to explore an untouched temple that just may be the death of them. No risk, no reward, right?
Even though they don’t always see eye-to-eye, it’s easy to root for both Jules and Mia. They’re built to balance each other out, though that does create some flaws for them individually. Jules is a well-off academic, but it quickly becomes clear that social skills and street smarts are not his forte. While lovably aloof at times, he needed a little more personality and competence outside his mission. Mia is efficient, but perhaps a little too efficient. For instance, she seems to understand math better than Jules, a certified genius, despite dropping out of school at a relatively young age. Still, the character’s a clever, tough chick and you can’t help but cheer for her. At first, their connection is situational and thus their chemistry moves slowly, much in the way of other Kaufman/Spooner couples, but in between the chaos, challenges, and competition, there’s some sweetness– though admittedly, I could have used a little more to prove they’re driven to each other by more than shared goals and proximity.
There are (obviously) secondary characters in the novel, but none of them play a particularly memorable role. They largely serve as obstacles for our MCs without much in the way of complex individual personalities, which was disappointing. Only one of these characters really has a backstory and while it’s meant be a big twist, it was pretty easy to see from early on.
The strength of this novel lies in its intense mysteries. The comparisons to Indiana Jones are certainly accurate, as Jules and Mia spend more of the book navigating through a temple filled with dark and potentially deadly puzzles. We don’t necessarily see all the puzzles play out, but the ones we do involve really clever uses of sound, math, and linguistics among other things. I clung to the page to see how each puzzle works and what the next section of the temple would bring. But there’s more than puzzles! Gaia’s worldbuilding is A+ and the reader will be as eager to uncover its other mysteries alongside the characters. Who were the aliens known as The Undying? What happened to them? What did they leave behind?
Unearthed moves fairly quickly, especially once Jules and Mia enter the temple, but there was a weird pacing bump in there; a point at which it felt like the novel was reaching its major conclusion, but instead there were a hundred pages left and the big, thrilling moment I was expecting never came. It really threw off the pacing for me and it never quite recovered from there. The novel does its best to make up for it with a truly cliffy ending actual ending that had me all in a tizzy, desperate to find out what happens next.
Unearthed isn’t a flawless series starter, but it is compelling and will satisfy readers’ desire for mystery, adventure, and diving into the unknown.
RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 STARS
Unearthed (Unearthed #1) hits shelves on January 9, 2017. You can pre-order it now via Amazon.
When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.
For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Mia and Jules’ different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.
In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race’s secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race…