Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Series: Unearthed, #1
Release Date: January 9th 2018
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…
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Mia has only one reason for being on Gaia; find something valuable that she can use to buy her way home and buy her sister’s freedom. However she quickly finds her plans changed and her path blocked by other scavengers hoping to loot Gaia. For Jules being on Gaia is what his work the past few years has been building to. He wants to understand the people who lived there, decode the messages they left behind, if he can get to their temples before the scavengers strip them bare.
When I saw Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner were writing a book together again I was so excited, and while I really enjoyed Unearthed it wasn’t quite as good as I’d hoped it would be. Mixed together with a plot that I’d describe as a treasure hunt on an alien planet Unearthed is very much a character driven book. Split between both Mia’s and Jules’s POVs each have very different reasons for being on Gaia, reasons that clash, but they’re forced to work together.
Following Jules’s promise of a treasure greater than any of the other scavengers could even imagine Mia agrees to work with him. Their journey takes them across the planet’s surface to a smaller temple filled with dangerous puzzles they must successfully navigate if they hope to be deemed ‘worthy’ of the message the Undying left behind; a message Jules is still unsure whether it will change Earth for the better or worse.
Unearthed was definitely a fast paced read; it seemed like every other page, as Jules and Mia uncovered something new in the temple they were trying to reach the centre of, I had a different theory as to who the Undying were and what their message meant for the Earth. Parts of the story were a little too predictable, and I wasn’t a massive fan of the romance mainly because it felt like I’d seen it before, but despite seeing it coming the way Unearthed ended has left me excited for the second book.
Mia has lived a tough life, and she’s been forced to turn to scavenging to survive. For Mia Gaia represents a shot at freedom, a bigger haul which means a bigger pay out and a chance at a normal life for herself and her sister. Everything Mia does she does with her sister at the forefront of her mind, and despite her go-it-alone attitude she’s an open book. She makes it clear to Jules from the beginning what she is on Gaia for, and what she wants if she helps him reach the temple he’s heading for rather than carrying on along the path she was heading down.
Scavenging on Earth has left Mia well-prepared for scavenging on Gaia. She’s resourceful but not overconfident, which means she knows what she needs to do to survive on an alien planet and she’s not going to take reckless risks.
Jules has been researching and studying Gaia his whole life, but he’s unprepared for what being on the planets’ surface means and compared to Mia he is woefully under-prepared. Jules knows he needs someone with Mia’s savvy and he’s prepared to bargain any way he can to get her to help him. For Jules his mission, his reason for being on Gaia, is more important than anything else and while he feels guilty about leading Mia astray he believes what he’s doing is for the greater good.
In a lot of ways Jules and Mia are complete opposites, but they’re each on Gaia for more than just themselves and they’re willing to risk everything to achieve their end goal as well. Both Jules and Mia are incredibly smart, and while Mia has more street smarts than Jules she’s still able to keep up with his academic smarts when they find themselves inside the temple.
The relationship developed between Jules and Amie wasn’t really a surprise, they’re the main characters and for a lot of the book the only characters, but at times it felt like they were together because it was the only option. It also felt like sometimes the developing romance took away from the action and the plot. Still Mia and Jules work well together, and their intelligence and skills complement each other which meant it was interesting seeing them work together.
The world building in Unearthed was something I was in two minds about. On one hand I loved how Gaia was developed; there was plenty of background on the planet, the people, and the language Jules was trying to decode, but there was never too much that it felt like the characters already had all the information. There was still some mystery left for them to uncover. However I would have liked to know more about what was happening on Earth. Based on the snippets we got it seemed like it was in a dystopia-like state; but what had happened, why had it happened? It almost made me misunderstand the risks Jules and Mia were taking, because I was never certain what was happening on Earth that led them to take those risks.
While Unearthed wasn’t as good as I’d hoped it would be, and definitely not as good as the Starbound trilogy, it was still a good story. The plot had enough action to keep me hooked even when the story slowed down to allow the romance room to develop, and I liked Jules’s and Mia’s characters enough separately to enjoying seeing them start to develop as a couple as well.
What did you think of Unearthed? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.