Unearthed (Unearthed #1), by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Publish Date: January 9, 2018
Published by: Disney-Hyperion
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)
**I received this as an egalley from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.**
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…
I went into this book with high hopes. Having read Illuminae by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff, and having an absolute love for Indiana Jones, I thought that I would enjoy this book immensely. And while the beginning of the book dropped me into the story so quickly I thought that it would be a non-stop adventure that I would love, sadly it was not to be so.
The beginning, like I said, dropped me quickly into the story without confusing me, as the world-building was excellent. I was able to follow along easily as the circumstances were explained and the puzzles revealed. And while initially the pace of the story moved along decently, it slowly began to drag for me as I moved deeper into the novel, and the characters moved deeper into the temple. It was strange, because while things were happening, and twists kept appearing and there was a lot of action and suspense, I just was slowly losing my own personal investment in it. I think part of it was that the majority of the story ended up being about Jules and Mia and their own personal issues and the secrets and lies they were keeping and telling each other, so things just kind of got elongated to include these moments of theirs together. This caused many of the puzzles and traps to be breezed over in quick descriptions or bare-mentions, leaving me feeling like I wasn’t really reading much of an adventure novel after all. By the near-end, I just wanted it to be done and over with.
I don’t normally talk about plot points in my reviews, but this one annoyed me to death. [SPOILER ALERT] This whole journey for Jules is about finding an answer to the Nautilus symbol and why it was meant to represent “catastrophe.” This symbol leads them to a ship that has portals built within it (and surprise at how long it took them to figure out the use of those), that the Undying supposedly left on the planet Gaia for whomever to find it and to take back to their home planet with them so that they could then invade it. My biggest issue with this is that it was clearly meant for Earth-humans because the final chamber in the temple was filled with Earth languages. So if these beings had all this technology (including portals and the ability to build this giant ship), and they were intentionally making this Trojan Horse trap for humans, then they must have known where Earth was – so why didn’t they just go there themselves? Why did they need to create this elaborate trap just to get a ride there? Even with the final reveal at the end (which I also kind of guessed at), it still begs the question. This is something I am hoping that will be addressed in the second book, although I don’t know if I will actually be reading it right away when it comes out. [END SPOILER]
The characters themselves were interesting, but not extremely so. They both seem to have these pressing goals, but are easily attracted to each other within the first ten minutes of meeting, of course. I will admit, the insta-love put me off to their romance a bit. Mia seems to be a very determined sort of character, and Jules is kind of an oblivious one, despite his academics. In fact, I can’t get over how naïve he could be at times – even after being deceived by multiple people, he still gets the shock of a lifetime when someone else turns out to be a liar. For most of the book the two of them were mildly interesting, but didn’t really do much to make me feel anything for them, either individually or together.
Overall, this was an okay read, but not one that is going to have me singing its praises. It felt like the journey took an exceptionally long time, the characters and romance were a little two-dimensional, and the twists stopped being all that surprising by the end. I might read the next one to see if I get any answers for my questions, but I don’t see myself rushing to do so.