It’s being billed as a cross between Indiana Jones and Star Wars, and “Unearthed” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner comes close. It’s the story of a future Earth when climate change has destroyed much of our planet. Scientists on Earth find a message from an extinct alien race that explains how to build a portal to Gaia, another planet, where the astronauts find a piece of technology that powers a clean water supply for all of Los Angeles. Then the astronauts are killed while exploring one of the temples there.
Now the two protagonists meet when they arrive on the planet — each for very different reasons. Jules Addison is the son of the linguist-turned-traitor who first translated the alien broadcast. He is trying to absolve his father of wrongdoing and prove that his father’s warnings were correct. If they were correct, and there is danger and treachery in the alien communications, Jules is also trying to save the human race. Amelia Radcliffe has her own almost-as-noble reasons for being on the planet. But she is a scavenger, one of many who scour Earth for things to sell, and her purpose on Gaia is the same — to find a piece of tech she can sell to save her sister, who is enslaved on Earth.
At first, Jules and Amelia seem to be oil and water. But as they work together, each not quite honest with the other, they find that they have more in common then they thought. And there is that building attraction between them.
The story is well told with many twists and turns, plenty of surprises, and some really nice descriptive language.
“And I understand why the first astronauts on Gaia’s surface, scientists themselves, whispered the word temple.
Banks and supermarkets are structures. Structures are built and used and torn down and rebuilt and recycled and end up just so much cardboard and plastic wrap. This place … this place is heavy with importance. It calls, the way a church’s bells call a congregation to mass or the cry of the muezzin summons the faithful to prayer. It waits with gravity and consequence, with the ancient serenity of a massive oak.”
The pages seem to turn by themselves as the reader reads on to find out what happens next. And it’s nice that while some of the bad guys are really, really bad, others are definitely shades of grey.
The ending is so unexpected that very few readers will have predicted it, although there are many clues to be had. Readers will have a tough time waiting for the second book in the duology.
Please note: This review is based on the advance reader’s copy provided by Hyperion, the publisher, for review purposes.