Monday, January 8, 2018

Review: Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Book One of the Unearthed series
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

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...

What I Liked:

I'm going to be completely honest - I had a really hard time reading this book. I struggled to get through it, which is something I usually don't have a problem with. It took me nearly a week to finish the book, which is seven times longer than it would usually take me to finish the book. I recognize and acknowledge how well the story was put together, but the first half of the book was extremely dull, and it almost seemed like the authors were trying to include too many mysteries and puzzles and half-truths here and there. In the end, I want to read the next book, but I won't forget how much I struggled with this first book.

Jules Addison has landed on Gaia to explore an unknown temple that could contain a wealth of information that could change the future of Earth. There is technology that the Undying left behind on Gaia, and Jules is determined to find it. Mia has also just landed on Gaia, having been smuggled in, in order to find artifacts to bring back to Earth to sell. She is a scavenger in desperate need of money; he is a scholar with a thirst for knowledge. Their paths collide, and they have no choice but to work together to find a way off the planet. But the farther they go into the hidden temple, the more they learn about the Undying... there is more to the temple than advanced technology, and the discovery could change the future of Earth forever.

I struggled with the first half of the book, and the second half of the book was still a bit of a struggle, but definitely more interesting. I think I really only started to try and get invested when Jules and Mia were deep in the temple, and they realized that they were not alone. From that point on, I started to at least care more. But everything before that - Jules and Mia meeting, their bargain with each other, actually finding the temple, starting to explore the temple - meh. Once Jules and Mia started to feel more pressure and danger, AND started to realize that there was more to the temple than old rocks and symbols, I started to care more.

I did like the Indiana Jones feel that I got as the story went on. There were so many puzzles and traps and decoding that needed to be done, which was really cool. Jules's education and quick-working brain came in handy, as did Mia's fast instincts and math skills. They were a well-matched pair for the temple, given how complex and different each obstacle was. The Undying really made things complicated for those trying to seek out their technology.

I liked Jules from the get-go, with his proper, well-mannered ways. He is very intelligent and inquisitive, and cares so much about finding the tech so he can study it. He is a scholar with a true scholar's mind, and he is a good person with little malicious intent. He has good instincts and he has a good heart. I liked his strengths - his quick mind, his cleverness, his selflessness.

Mia is more savvy and sly, a scavenger out of necessity but a very skilled person to have around. She gets herself and Jules out of some sticky situations. She has murky motives at times, but she really cares about her little sister back on Earth. Everything she does is for her sister. For the most part, I liked Mia, and I understood her.

Jules and Mia are a great pair together, especially in terms of how well they worked together to find a way out of the temple. They are both very smart in different ways, and they use their strengths to help each other. They didn't always have the best relationship, with the amount of lies between them at first, but they begin to trust each other after they save each other's lives several times. 

You can guess that there is romance in this book. It is very subtle and barely there, but Jules and Mia start to catch feelings for each other towards the end of the book, which was cute. No love triangle or anything like that, just subtle romance that takes its time to build. Which is fine!

I won't say too much more in terms of the plot but I will say that the ending is not necessarily surprising, but it is very cliffhanger-y and can be seen as shocking if you weren't looking at all of the clues that the authors left. It's a good hook for setting the book up to have a sequel, and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel (whenever that will be). I definitely want to know more!

What I Did Not Like:

The only reason why I'm not giving this book four stars is because I struggled so much with it. I tried three times to read this book, and I feel asleep or put the book aside each time. The four time (Sunday night), I told myself that I was finishing it once and for all. The first half of the book is incredibly boring. There are so many passages of info-dumping, and even with all of the info-dumping, I was often left confused about the world-building, the history, who the Undying were, if the Undying were the people that left in a ship from Earth... there are a lot of questions that I have and I think I should not have those questions because they are fundamental groundwork questions. What exactly is the Undying? How do humans on Earth know of their existence if the Undying lived a zillion years ago? What is up with the ship that disappeared from Earth without a trace? There were a lot of "historic" things that just didn't add up to me. I think the authors also tried to have to many half-truths out there, too many seeds to pick up, too many half-written histories that would be explained letter. For all the info-dumping that happened, I was still really confused. And really bored.

In any case, the first half of the book did not interest me. The second half of the book was... better? But still kind of dry and stuffed with long passages of info-dumping. There was more dialogue in the second half, and more heart-twisting events, but I still didn't get invested in the story. I never felt like I truly got into the story.

Would I Recommend It:

I do recommend this book, despite my struggles with it. It could have just been me! (Though, based on reviews by blogger friends, I don't think this is the case.) I love YA science fiction and thought this book would have been my jam, but that wasn't necessarily the case. It was okay though! I think the story was well-written and creative. I just had a hard time getting into it.


3.5 stars -> rounded down to 3 stars. I will still definitely check out the sequel, as I have certain hopes and expectations for the book. But I'm not really as enthusiastic about the series as I was before I read this book. It was a little disappointing, to have struggled so hard with a book that I'd been looking forward to reading for a year or more. But I'm hoping the next book will be better for me!

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  1. *sigh*
    I have a feeling I would feel very similarly about this one. I don't like to struggle and feel bored while reading. I think I'm going to think about this one before I get it. I'm glad you liked the characters and the Indiana Jones feel to the story though!

  2. Yikes, sucks the book wasn't more engaging. I'm curious about this series but I'll probably wait until the sequel's out to decided if I'll give them a try. Like always, thanks for the review Alyssa <3

  3. I am glad that in the end you were able to enjoy the book. I am sorry you struggled so much through it. I can see where it would pickup a bit once you are connected with the characters.

  4. Aw too bad it wasn't the best read for you.

  5. Omph, four tries? I liked it, but I agree about the info-dumping. And some of the puzzles were a bit too easy for our friends. I think there might be some time travel in this series which always confuses me. Here's hoping the next book explains more!

  6. Disappointed that the first half is boring because it will make it hard for me to push through. Sometimes I skip a chapter if it's REALLY so boring that I cannot make myself go on. I had high hopes for this one, so I might still give it a try.

  7. I'm so glad I wasn't the only one who struggled with this book! It just would not keep my interest, no matter how hard I tried to focus. Oddly, I actually enjoyed the first half more than the second half. I liked the backstory and all the cool info about Gaia in the introduction, but you are so right about the second half being stuffed with useless exposition and info dumping. Sorry we didn't both like this one a little better!

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

  8. I think I felt similar about one of their other books, but can't remember which one. Seeing this doesn't make me want to read this book anytime soon.

  9. I had similar thoughts when I was reading this one Alyssa. I thought the build-up about the Undying was way too much (and repetitive), while the resolution didn't help at all. Plus my biggest issue was how the adventure and puzzles basically were to answer one main question - one that's not even answered at the end. I was a fan of the characters and puzzles though - if only the world-building was a bit better in this one. Awesome review!

    - Aila @ One Way Or An Author

  10. Ahh. Lovely review, though, Alyssa. <3 But aw. I'm so sorry you didn't love this book :( I loved it lots. But I can see why you had issues too. <3 It sucks to be bored while reading a book :\ but I'm glad you liked parts of it, even so :D Yay.

  11. It sounds like there were almost too many twists and turns in this one, just for the sake of having twists and turns. I'm glad that the story came together in the end, despite its sluggish start.

  12. YIKES, I think I'll wait til the series is done, if I don't see incredible reviews for the whole thing, I'll pass

  13. Unfortunately, I had the same feelings. I assumed I would read this one fairly quickly, considering how much I enjoyed their other series together, but it took me about a week to finish it as well. The info-dumping bored me, and eventually I just gave up on trying to connect with the characters. Instead of feeling immersed in the story, I felt like I was on the outside looking in.

    I do agree that the second half got better, especially once they realized they weren't alone! I'll be reading the sequel too, despite all the problems I had with it!

  14. This is one of my anticipated books for this year.... I already have my audio so I'm waiting when I have time to read it! LOL

    I'm sorry you didn't like it, Alyssa! I hope I will like it..


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