Review | Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

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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…

Title: Unearthed

Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Genre: Sci-Fi/YA

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

First I want to thank my sister for buying this book for me for Christmas, and apologise for not reading it right away because I loved it!

It wasn’t perfect, but it was a really fun read with twists and drama and puzzles to solve (I love a good puzzle!) and I really enjoyed it.

I get the feeling this book would make a good console game or interactive theme park ride – which is very unique I think! It reminds me of a mash up of Artemis by Andy Weir and Tomb Raider.

First things first though, the little niggles that made it a 4 star rather than 5 star read for me. Better get these out of the way because they really weren’t that bad at all.

In the beginning of the book there were lots of ‘Oh crap I like her. Hormones going crazy!’ and ‘My teenage boy hormones were going wild looking at her’ moments (not direct quotes). It kind of points out the attraction a bit too much for me. I’d prefer being shown it rather than my characters telling me outright ‘I like him.’

Maybe if they’d caught their breath at the sight of each other, or stumbled over some words when they were too close all of a sudden, it might have felt a little less obvious and more organic. That said, the relationship was pretty realistic, moving from them pretty much annoyed at each other but recognising that they were attractive, to genuinely liking them and understanding their motives.

There’s also a bit early on in the book where Jules wants to prove how smart he is, so he reels off this sentence about nutrition:

“High in protein,” Jules muses, actually looking at the nutrition info printed along the label. “Not a bad idea, if a little bland. Five grams of protein per hundred, and the recommended daily intake is a little under a gram per kilo of body weight, so that’s…” He pauses, frowning in calculation.
“About ten percent of my needs,” I say, without thinking. “Less efficient for you.”
He blinks, no doubt surprised I can count, much less anything beyond that – the look on his face needles me. “Yes,” he agrees after a pause. “Ten percent. And in terms of regulation of blood sugar, and the vitamin complexes you find in them, they…” He trails off because I’m staring at him.

Like… that felt so arbitrary to me. I get it’s supposed to establish that they’re both smart while also making Jules realise that he may have underestimated Mia, but it didn’t sound like things even really smart people say when they’re trying to show off. I might give them a pass however, because they’re supposed to be sixteen in this and I remember how ‘adult’ you feel at that age while really being nowhere near.

And finally, very occasionally the descriptions of the surroundings or location is a bit confusing so I’m not sure what’s going on, but this doesn’t last very long.

And now on to the good stuff!

The puzzles were really good, and that’s coming from someone who loves puzzles and logic problems on her holidays. Even with everything in a particular room described, I still couldn’t figure out how to solve it without the characters pointing out something or another. I appreciated that they were genuinely difficult to solve so it made me even more impressed with the characters and the author.

Also, I love how both main characters like Maths! Maths was my subject at school and it’s so rare that you read about characters loving it or even liking it. Usually book characters are artsy in some way, partly because that’s easier to describe, and partly because they’re in some way a reflection of the author (and writers are more likely to be into creative subjects like writing – shocked?? Me too!)

It really endeared me to the story because I could understand their motives more and could relate to Mia and Jules.

Another thing that impressed me was definitely the twists at the end. I’m not going to give anything away, but I didn’t see them coming one bit and I love when that happens in a book.

Overall this was a great read, really interesting and complex. Completely deserving of a four star rating!

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