Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Amie Kaufman & Megan Spooner

I received a copy of this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This is my first Kaufman/Spooner book that I've read, which seems a bit like a sin considering how long I've had their other series sitting on my shelf. I've heard tons of good things and I also loved Illuminae, which Kaufman had a hand in. This book, though, was a bit of a let down. I think a lot of early info was praising it as Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider in space, which it essentially is, and which is actually a great idea, but just didn't do much for me. A side note before the proper review: even though I had an egalley of this, I actually listened to it on audiobook, which I can strongly recommend because I thought the two voice actors were pretty fantastic.

I'll start with the bad, or, more correctly, the lackluster. Even though it totes itself as being a space adventure of sorts and that it's about discovering, it really wasn't. Most of the discovering happens off the page, before the book even begins. The premise revolves less around learning about The Undying, an alien race long extinct before humans even came around, and more on what their cryptic message means. Actually, it's not even much about that because the main characters more or less know what it means and are just trying to get the specific details. As they travel around the labyrinth that The Undying have set up, complete with traps, there is little to no world building and it becomes all about puzzle solving, and not even puzzles a reader might be able to enjoy trying to solve alongside the characters. 

It's also a pretty predictable book. I'll admit, the twist at the end almost got me: I had two thirds of it figured out but the final line certainly has me curious to see how the duology wraps it all up. Beyond that, though, I could predict just about everything that was going to happen, which is particularly frustrating since the whole time the characters make sure to let the reader know, "this is no science fiction movie".... except it follows basically every science fiction movie trope.

Now for the bad, and there really was only one bad aspect to this book: the insta-love. It was so frustrating! And it was so shallow. Within their first meeting, Mia and Jules are besotted with each other because of the way they look. They barely know each other, and I guess that's fine, but before either really starts to develop any character or personality on the page they're all over each and basically in love. It does taper off and eventually they do actually develop as characters and after a while their relationship is actually pretty sweet, but the first third of the book had me banging my head against the wall in frustration over this over done trope.

But it's not all bad! I actually really appreciated a lot of aspects of the book. I thought Jules' relationship with his dad was really well done, and I don't feel like there are very many positive father-son relationships in YA lately. I also loved that Mia was a math-whiz, and not in an annoying way. She just genuinely loved math and was good at it and was a bad ass regardless. The writing, too, wasn't bad, and was in fact very visual in its descriptions, without being over the top. Once I got into the groove of the story it took a lot for me to put it down.
TL;DR Definitely not the best book of the year, but even though it's mostly lackluster it still becomes an engaging story with a good ending. The sequel could go a long way to save this series, so I hope it does.

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...
Amie Kaufman
Amie Kaufman is the New York Times bestselling co-author of Illuminae (with Jay Kristoff) and These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, and Their Fractured Light (with Meagan Spooner.) She writes science fiction and fantasy for teens, and her favourite procrastination techniques involve chocolate, baking, sailing, excellent books and TV, plotting and executing overseas travel, and napping.

She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, their rescue dog, and her considerable library. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary.
Megan Spooner
New York Times bestselling author Meagan Spooner grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an astronaut. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting, and has spent several years since then living in Australia. She's traveled with her family all over the world to places like Egypt, South Africa, the Arctic, Greece, Antarctica, and the Galapagos, and there's a bit of every trip in every story she writes.
She currently lives and writes in Asheville, North Carolina, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there's no telling how long she'll stay there. She's the author of the award-winning Starbound trilogy (These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, Their Fractured Light) and the Skylark Trilogy (Skylark, Shadowlark, Lark Ascending) as well as the upcoming Beauty and the Beast retelling Hunted.
In her spare time she plays guitar, plays video games, plays with her cat, and reads.
Book cover linked to Goodreads. Book cover, author info, and description taken from Goodreads.
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  1. I wish you'd liked this a little more. I'm hoping to listen to it on audiobook as well, so we'll see what happens.

    1. I look forward to seeing what you think. The audiobook narrators are very good-- this was the first audiobook I've picked up in a while and it reminded me why I love them so much.

  2. aahh, thanks for this review! I read another review saying almost the same things. I was actually a bit excited for this but for now, I'd probably pass it up and see how the next book will go.

    czai @ the Blacksheep Reader

    1. It's a shame that it wasn't a better book because I think a lot of people had high hopes for it. But, yeah, I'd say it's worth skipping.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I think the sophomore slump is sometimes very true in the publishing industry. I enjoyed these authors first series together (I do have the final book still to read), but when I saw this one, I hesitated. Ugh, insta-love. I'll probably skip it after reading your review.

    1. I'd definitely say skip it's unfortunately not worth it. I still haven't read their first series together but I definitely have higher hopes for it, and it's good to hear you enjoy them!

  4. I pretty much agree with all of this!😂I did like it and found the banter/characters to be adorable and I DID end up shipping them a lot, but it did lack something for me and I found a lot of the puzzle/action scenes confusing.😂 It's a pity though, because I adored These Broken Stars and Illuminae (I mean I know that's a different author pairing though haha) so much!

    1. Illuminae is one of my absolute favorites! (Still haven't read Gemina but you know how it goes...) These Broken Stars are pretty high on my list and I'm not letting my thoughts of this color expectations there too much. Thanks for stopping by!


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