By Aja Hoggatt
May 21, 2018 at 06:15 PM EDT
Christopher Tovo; Disney Publishing Worldwide

Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner are returning with another tomb-raiding sci-fi adventure, and EW has an exclusive first look.

In Undying, the authors’ follow-up to Unearthed, the adventure continues as scavenger Mia and academic Jules find themselves trapped aboard the Undying’s spaceship, still shocked by what they’ve learned while aboard. Catapulted into a life-or-death race to warn their home planet of the danger humanity’s greed has unleashed, they speed across Earth, from the mountains of Spain to the streets of Prague.

Kaufman and Spooner have revealed the cover for Undying exclusively to EW, and chatted about what’s is in store. Read on for more, and pre-order the book ahead of its Jan. 8, 2019, release here.

Disney Publishing Worldwide

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Undying is the sequel to Unearthed, which came out in January. For new readers, how did the series kick off?
AMIE KAUFMAN: We like to describe Unearthed as “Indiana Jones teams up with Lara Croft, in space.” When Earth receives a radio signal from outer space with instructions on how to build a portal, we discover a new planet on the other side, and the ruins of a civilization — along with treasure that could help salvage our slowly dying planet. But of course there’s a catch …

MEAGAN SPOONER: Think alien planet, tomb-raiding, unlikely allies, and ruthless enemies. Unearthed saw Jules, an academic with plenty of book smarts and zero street smarts, team up with Mia, a scavenger who’s used to talking or scrambling her way out of trouble. They both arrived on the planet Gaia for different reasons — academic discovery vs. a badly needed cash injection — but were forced together to deal with a threat far larger than either of them had imagined possible.

What can you tell us about Undying?
SPOONER: We have to be careful of spoilers here! We can tell you that the action — and the stakes — grow even larger in book two. Jules and Mia end the first book in the series with knowledge of a deadly threat to Earth, but there’s no way two teenagers can just stroll home, warn everybody, and be believed. They’re both criminals now, and what they’re alleging is … well, unbelievable.

KAUFMAN: We can tell you that the action makes it back to Earth in this book, and that the scene you see on the cover is a pivotal one. We researched some really fun stuff for this one, from French vending machines to space shuttle descents — and reality almost always turns out to be weirder and cooler than anything we could make up.

Where did the idea for this series come from — what was the original spark?
KAUFMAN: We were on tour together for our last series, and in some treasured downtime, we were relaxing at our hotel and watching an Indiana Jones marathon — our idea of a perfect day off! The longer we watched, the more we started talking about why there weren’t more books like this out there, full of banter, puzzles, traps, near-death experiences, and adventure in alien settings.

SPOONER: Then, just as we were getting a little indignant about the lack of reading options, we remembered that we write books, and we knew in that moment we were going to write a series just like this. Of course, these things always grow in the execution, and by the end of Undying, it’s a book about faith and proof, about understanding the opinions of those different to ourselves, and so much more. But there’s still a lot of banter, and some swashes are definitely buckled!

This is your second series together. Has collaborating changed over the years?
SPOONER: If anything, it’s gotten better. We were collaborating for many years before we were published, writing together just for fun, to entertain each other, and to sustain our long-distance friendship — I’m in the United States and Amie’s in Australia. We’ve grown up writing together, which is why we click together so well.

KAUFMAN: We’ve had so many years to learn about how the other one works that I can sometimes anticipate what Meg will do before she does it, and vice versa! There’s a kind of wordless communication that’s wonderful — one of us lays down a chapter ending, and the other picks it up without needing to be told how they should weave together. More than a writing partnership, ours is a decade-long friendship, and it definitely shows in the way we work together.

Does the series continue from here? Will we see more books?
KAUFMAN: No, this is it! Unearthed and Undying are a duology, so readers can plan to safely dive in without worrying they’ll be left hanging. (We’re still hearing a lot about the cliffhanger at the end of Unearthed!)

SPOONER: Everything we set up in Unearthed, we knock down in Undying, and we’ll answer all your questions — plus some you don’t know you have yet — by the end. But we’re not done writing together yet — we’re already at work on our next top-secret series — and we have plenty of other books out there, including solo books, to tide readers over until then!

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