Series: Unearthed #1
Published by Allen & Unwin on December 1st 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Action & Adventure
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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 ...
Unearthed is described as a cross between Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider in space, and I absolutely loved it!
The dynamic between Jules and Mia was so much fun, and I loved how their skills as a scholar and a scavenger complimented each other. At the start, it seemed like their philosophies and mutual goals clashed with each other – Jules wanted to research and preserve alien artifacts, while Mia just wanted to sell them off to save her sister. As they worked together to solve riddles in an alien tomb, while escaping from raiders, their combined knowledge and experience helped them through.
I may be able to puzzle our way out of an eons-old alien temple, but she’s the one who can bluff her way out of captivity.
Being set on a different planet, I also enjoyed the world-building of how humans found themselves on Gaia, and the birth of scavengers. There’s just so much adventure in this new world and I loved discovering what the answer to each riddle was within the Undying temple. It was interesting gradually learning more about them as Jules would get excited about his research and the possibility of encountering an alien race. The descriptions of each puzzle was so vivid and it reminded me of those point and click adventure games (like Broken Sword) where you have to solve the puzzle to progress.
While Mia’s role as a scavenger and pawning off rare artifacts to the highest bidder may be met with scorn, the development of her character was fantastic, giving us a deeper insight into why people may participate in crime. She’s quick on her feet, incredibly brave, and also resourceful, and she’s learnt how to use her skills to pay off her sister’s debt. Joining Jules on his adventure forces her into uncharted territories, particularly when it comes to the amount of danger they will face. I loved seeing her get the two of them out of a bind.
Jules on the other hand, is so sweet, reflective, sensitive and intelligent. While he doesn’t really know what he’s doing at the start, needing to force himself to overcome his prejudices around Mia, I loved how he grew on his own and learnt to trust his instincts a bit more. He’s the type of person who finds it hard to go with the flow, but exploring the Undying temple while being chased definitely forces him out of his comfort zone.
As with Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s These Broken Stars series, I loved how the romance was developed over the course of the book. They banter, learn to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and leans on each other for their survival. While their romantic interludes may contribute to the foreboding atmosphere of the novel, especially when there are raiders hunting them down, I thought it was adorable.
Unearthed is a thrilling archeological adventure set on another planet, filled with riddles, alien artifacts and a shippable couple. While the plot was slightly predictable with a contrived ending, I really enjoyed the adventure and can’t wait for the next one!
Rating: 4 out of 5
- What research did you conduct into the alien tomb setting? Visit any excavation or alien crash landing sites?
Meg actually has a background in archaeology and has been on digs before, as well as visiting amazing places like Machu Picchu, all of which provide rich material. Amie’s explored ruins in Vietnam, Morocco, Spain and Italy… but a lot of it comes purely from our imaginations, as well.
- If Jules and Mia lived in our time period, what would they be doing?
Jules is brilliant, so he’d probably be at Oxford already – he graduates high school early in Unearthed, and he’d do that in any time period. Mia would be living in the US and in high school—she’d probably be involved in a lot of activism, and running at least one business on the side already.
- What Hogwarts houses are Jules and Mia in?
Jules is definitely a Ravenclaw, holding knowledge supreme, though he does occasionally have a Gryffindor’s habit of running into danger without thinking it through. Mia has the huge, brave heart of a Gryffindor, but ultimately she’s a Slytherin – she gets the job done.
- Who are your favourite ships in the Starbound trilogy?
Are we allowed to weigh in on this, as the writers? We love all our characters equally! Truly, there area reasons each of them are special to us – we’ve put parts of ourselves into each, and built in layers and secrets that matter enormously to us. We could never choose who we love the most. (But we sort of like seeing readers argue over this, it means we did well!)
- Any sneaky hints about what will be in the sequel?
Hmmm…. We want to be very careful with spoilers, because of course most people reading this won’t have read the book yet. So we’ll just say that readers will see a lot of new locations they haven’t seen before, meet some new characters, and that some piece of information they learned and things they saw in book one will be very important to unravelling the mystery of book two.
Thanks to Allen & Unwin Australia for sending me a review copy and arranging the interview!
Unearthed is out now from Australian bookstores for RRP$19.99.