Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

This Territory Goes Uncharted

Uncover ancient alien secrets in Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner’s latest co-authored tale, Unearthed.

This Territory Goes Uncharted

BOOK REPORT for Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Cover Story: Watch Out For Falling Rocks!
BFF Charm: Meh x2
Swoonworthy Scale: 1
Talky Talk: Rinse And Repeat And Repeat And Repeat…
Bonus Factor: Aliens
Relationship Status: It’s Not Me, It’s You

Cover Story: Watch Out For Falling Rocks!

I actually really like this cover! It clearly references a part of the story, and that part looks pretty dang exciting. Where does that tunnel lead?

The Deal:

Fifty years ago, Dr. Addison decoded a message from an extinct alien race that called themselves the Undying. That message pointed humans towards the Undying’s home planet, Gaia, but warned us of the hubris of trying to control a destructive power. So what do we humans do? Try to get our asses to Gaia and mine its secrets as much and as fast as we can. (Global warming has turned most of the world into a desert, so we’re a wee bit desperate.)

Enter Mia—a low-level scavenger who sells bits of city detritus to survive—who has suddenly got a job promotion when she’s snuck onto Gaia by an underground organization to look for expensive scraps in the main Undying temple. But then she gets thrown together with Jules, a posh-sounding teen whose Undying knowledge could rival that of Dr. Addison, and he persuades her to go with him to another temple—one where he believes he will finally find the true meaning behind the Undying’s message.

Sounds simple enough, right? Except the Undying have created complex puzzles to protect their secrets. And the price for one wrong step is death. 

BFF Charm: Meh x 2

Mia and Jules aren’t bad characters; they’re just badly written characters. Naive scholar meet scrappy, tough-girl caricature. Here’s what you need to know about these two: Mia is on Gaia to earn enough money to free her precious baby sister. Jules is on Gaia because he’s trying to prove a point to the world. They’re both decent humans, I guess, but I reserve my BFF charms for more interesting people; sorry, I’m fickle like that.

Swoonworthy Scale: 1

When will you get it through your thick skull that I’m just not that into you, instalove? You bore me; your declarations of love don’t mean much without any context behind them, and you seem overly attached to strangers. Now step back before I contemplate a restraining order.

Talky Talk: Rinse And Repeat And Repeat And Repeat…

Guys, I am super bummed about this book. This had all the makings of being a winner! I’ve enjoyed the author combo in the past (I give These Broken Stars a solid thumbs up), one of these authors is part of the Illuminae duo I adore, and I enjoyed the crap out of Hunted. Plus there’s Indiana Jones-esque hidden temples and booby traps AND aliens and space. This book was basically made for me.

BUT.

It fell short. Way short. So short. Am I repeating the word “short” too much? Sorry. Super sorry. You know how everyone has a thing they can’t stand? One of my biggies is repetitiveness. Please don’t tell me the same story I’ve heard you tell three times before. Please don’t insult my intelligence by assuming that I couldn’t infer from the first two times you told me how high the stakes were, or that character A feels majorly gross about lying to character B. I GET IT. This form of storytelling ground any forward momentum to a halt and made this book about 50% longer than it should have been. I think it could’ve benefited from tighter editing and more exciting situations (there’s only so many descriptions of glyphs I can handle before I start skimming).

Bonus Factor: Aliens

We would lose our collective shit if we learned that aliens, even extinct ones, were real. So I get the fascination the world had with the decoded message and alien tech. The mystery and speculation is half the fun.

Relationship Status: It’s Not Me, It’s You

Even your mildly interesting cliffhanger isn’t going to be enough to make me come back for more, Book. I don’t understand it; I get along so well with your brothers and sisters, so I naturally assumed we’d get along like a house on fire. But I think I’ll just wait for one of them to call me back, and hopefully you’ll find someone else who appreciates your…cyclical turn of phrase.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Disney Hyperion. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. Unearthed is available on 1/9/2018.

Stephanie Johnston's photo About the Author: Stephanie is an avid reader who moonlights as a college Educational Advisor. Though she now calls Orlando home, she grew up all over the U.S. Aside from her obsession with YA books and book-related activities, Stephanie loves watching way too much television, reading organizational/DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.