Logan West and Emma James grew up together but are now high school seniors going in totally opposite directions after graduation. When they are assigned to work together on one last history project, they hardly expect the monotony of high school life to change. Instead, as they decode a series of unexplained clues hidden within their history project itself, Logan and Emma manage to unfold an ancient mystery that has baffled scientists and archeologists, one with powerful implications for the present day. As they embrace the adventure they’ve stumbled upon, and a growing romantic attraction to each other, Logan and Emma find themselves caught up in a dangerous, high-stakes race across the globe to decipher mankind’s past in order to save humanity’s future, not to mention their very own lives, with a mystery that just might reach towards the stars…
Today, I am reviewing a novel called The Coordinate, by Marc Jacobs
First, before I get into the actual book review, I would like to do a quick disclaimer. Conspiracy theories based around the idea that aliens built ancient architectural wonders and not the (often coded as POC in a modern perspective) ancient civilizations themselves are often the result of, at best, an unquestioned white colonialist bias and perspective. Not to mention the erroneous preconception that technology and culture are always getting better, instead of making leaps forwards and then dips and sometimes going backward, as is actually the case. The book I’m about to review does not challenge those white American/European notions of culture and archeology. On the other hand, it also does not commit to the idea of aliens OR humans building the ancient monuments involved in the story, choosing the leave the amount of building and influencing done by either party to the imagination of the reader. As such, it did good work avoiding many of the traps inherent to its “alien-related archeological mystery” setting. But it didn’t necessarily refute them either.
Now, on to the review.
The Coordinate was a good book, overall. It actually surprised me with how much it made me like its characters. The book starts with some stale tropes about the teen guy who likes *a girl* but she’s dating a jock, which didn’t endear me to the story. Then that same dude goes on to make a lot of the early deductions and flashes of genius in their school project, despite the fact that she is the one who was described as having an interest in cryptography, and I feared that the entire book would follow this irritating structure. But then the author swiftly turned the tables around, with Emma making great discoveries and taking the lead in their mystery, and a revelation about Chad that completely broke the old YA tropes and gave me hope for the rest of the book. From then on, Emma and Logan take turns solving the mystery, and the story hits a really great beat of suspense and drama and a race around the world.
I did have to suspend my disbelief twice, once because the book was being slightly wrong on a subject I’m very knowledgeable about, and the other time because a plot point was verging on the ridiculous. But it was never enough to make me want to stop reading. The book has that particular quality where the writing is just very good, regardless of story, and the author has managed to make the mystery interesting enough that the reader really wants to get to the end.
I particularly enjoyed the quick stint into the Vatican, and that last place they go at the end of the book. Most archeological mysteries do not take us into such a wide variety of places. Usually, a story that starts with an Inca temple doesn’t tend to bring us into roman catholic archives and little caves in Norway and American military bases. But in this book we visit all of those places, and the constant change of scenery keeps the story fresh, while giving a little something to everyone, no matter which type of conspiracy theory you like best.
I really want to see what the author has in store for us next.
The book officially comes out in June 2019, but the author has indicated that anyone who is interested in reading and reviewing an early copy can get in touch at http://marcjacobsauthor.com/contact/ . I encourage you all to do so if you like mystery and archeological quests.
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