Series: Unearthed #2
Published by Allen & Unwin on December 1, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction, Science Fiction
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Trapped aboard the Undying's ancient spaceship and reeling from what they've learned there, scavenger Mia and academic Jules are plunged into a desperate race to warn their home planet of the danger humanity's greed has unleashed. From the mountains of Spain to the streets of Prague, the sequel to Unearthed is a white-knuckle ride that will send readers hurtling back to earth, and leave them breathless until the last page.
The earth's fate rests in Mia and Jules's hands in the epic conclusion to New York Times best-selling authors Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner's tomb-raiding sci-fi duology.
After the fate of Jules and Mia in the last book, I enjoyed seeing Undying pick up exactly where the last book left off especially with the huge twist at the end. It was fascinating seeing them come back to Earth and navigate the competing agendas of the Undying, who they’re accompanying, along with the politics of the various groups on Earth (why do they always get in the way)?
While the first book was focused on solving puzzles and running from invaders in a tomb with the combined intellect and quick-thinking of Jules and Mia, this one was mainly about them trying to convince everyone on Earth that aliens are amongst them. Despite Jules being the son of a high profile scientist, the task is more difficult than first perceived, especially since everyone seems to throw them off their path and get in the way, which was mildly frustrating. As they are held against their will, pursued by enemy forces, thrown together with the Undying (the aliens they are trying to accuse), and look for the most prolific world leaders, their journey is full of action and bumps along the way. I enjoyed their journey, but kind of missed the excitement and novelty of the first book now that they aren’t solving alien puzzles on an unknown planet.
Mia, we’ve been to the other side of the universe and back. We’ve traveled to the heart of an ancient alien temple, we survived pitfalls and scavenger attacks and double-crossing secret agents, and we’re about to save the world. Do you honestly think an ocean is going to stop us?
There’s definitely a lot less romance here, as Jules and Mia are already in an established relationship. Of course, now that they are out of Gaia, Mia being her practical self is questioning the longevity of their relationship and whether she needs to sacrifice it in order to return to her sister, who she is still in search of. Jules on the other hand, is the soft scholar that we all know and love and won’t let go of perhaps one of the best things that has happened in his life, and I adored him for it.
Being a duology, we get to find out more about the Undying from their new companions Dex and Atlanta, who they tricked into accompanying on an alien space shuttle. Everything is revealed towards the end which was satisfying but also kind of ho hum and stock standard. I’m glad that everything wrapped up nicely, with no questions left unturned and the book definitely explores an interesting angle when it comes to human evolution and space travel in the near future.
Undying offers a pleasant end to this adventurous sci-fi series set in the near future about aliens on a nearby planet. While it definitely carries forward with the intellect and space setting from the first book, I missed a lot of the novelty and adventure as we returned to Earth in this book.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Undying is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$19.99 or from The Book Depository.
Thanks to Allen & Unwin Australia for sending me a review copy!Wildcard by Marie Lu
Series: Warcross #2
Published by Penguin Australia on September 20, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
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For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn't just a game - it's a way of life. And teenage hacker Emika Chen has found herself caught up in a conflict that could change the world.
Warcross creator, Hideo Tanaka, wants to use to the game to control peoples' thoughts and feelings, effectively ending free will - Zero, a mysterious (and dangerous) hacker, wants to stop him.
Now Emika must decide who she will fight for. The game is on . . .
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu
This review may also contain spoilers for the first book in the series, Warcross. Check out my review here!
There’s no denying that I was disappointed with Warcross when I first read it, expecting it to be something it was not – an in-depth virtual reality mecca for gamers. Despite that, I delved into Wildcard with an open mind, adjusting my expectations from the first book, and I ended up enjoying it.
It started out quite slowly, recapping Emika’s feelings after Hideo’s betrayal in the first book. She is recruited by the Blackcoat rebellion to keep an eye on him (aka. spying), which means she must keep her feelings in check when dealing with the rich tech genius – while working for Zero behind his back.
That’s the difference between the real and the virtual. Reality is where you can lose the ones you love. Reality is the place where you can feel the cracks in your heart.
As we may expect from Warcross, there’s a big reveal here with different characters, which actually ended up humanising some of the people that we learnt not to trust in the first book, and adding more depth to their characters. Even the side-characters in Emika’s teammates from the first book received some character development which I was pleasantly surprised about.
Wildcard deals with the consequences of different tech geniuses who have the stake of the world in the palms of their hands and delved into the motivations behind their source of power. There’s no predicting what their motivations are – whether they wanted to control people using the NeuroLink, prevent them from making harmful decisions, or by simply pursuing a pet project of their own – it was interesting having different geniuses at play instead of just Hideo this time.
For this, I know he’s willing to tear the world’s order to shreds. He’s willing to risk anything.
Wildcard also isn’t clear cut when it comes to the romance – and explores what it’s like to still have feelings for someone who has betrayed your trust (and from both sides). This added another dimension of complexity to the relationship between Emika and Hideo which was fascinating as it dealt with their fall out.
Like the first book, there wasn’t too much more depth in terms of the actual game being played here, and I didn’t understand it any better. In fact, Warcross itself is quite limited in description as the book focuses on Zero, Hideo and the NeuroLink and how Emika is caught up as an agent between them. The hi-tech setting of Tokyo is also perfect for this book, as a world obsessed with technology.
Filled with double-crossing, secret motivations, technological geniuses holding the fate of the world in their palms, I quite enjoyed Wildcard as a conclusion to this virtual reality duology set in Tokyo. While it isn’t the gamer’s mecca that you’d expect, it’s an interesting read about the obsessive and wide-spread use of technology.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Wildcard is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$22.99 or from The Book Depository.
Thanks to Penguin Australia for sending me a review copy!