Book’em Nerdo – Artifact (A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery)
Yes, that is the series name it’s a bit long and unwieldy. This is another book for my reading challenge, needed a book with an amateur detective, and I decided I shouldn’t just read an Encyclopedia Brown book. This won’t just end up being another random book for my reading challenge as I will continue the series at some point in time, because I enjoyed this book a lot.
The premise of the series is that Jaya Jones, a historian, keeps being pulled into these incredible adventures where there is some lost treasure that she needs to track down. With an interesting cast of characters around her, in Artifact, she travels from her apartment in San Francisco (don’t ask how she can afford it, I’m assuming blackmail), to Scotland to a dig where her ex has died in a car accident. But it seems suspicious since he sent her a package containing a bracelet from India that showed up the day that she found out he’d passed away. Is it fall play, and is something going on at this dig?
I will double down on the fact that I enjoyed this book. Jaya Jones is an interesting character and the author, Gigi Pandian, does a good job of fleshing out her style and characteristics. You feel like she’s generally a pretty complete character and while she doesn’t have any major flaws, in a fluffy summer book, you don’t feel like you are missing them. I think that the other characters are pretty well written. Lane, whom you meet early in the book has an absurd history, and I don’t think it was something that was really needed for how over the top it got. Now, that isn’t much of a negative, though, on the book. I just kind of rolled my eyes and skimmed those couple of pages to get back to the main plot.
You can probably tell that this story and character are basically a female Indiana Jones, and that is really the case. I don’t mind that it heavily borrows from that feel, because it is just a summer light read. And the plot isn’t something that is much more complex than an Indiana Jones movie. When you ask yourself, half way through the book, who is the bad guy, it’s pretty obvious. That’s fine, again, because it’s summer reading. And knowing that, you want to know where the story is going to end, because of the treasure hunt aspect it ends up being pretty interesting, again, much in the way of Indiana Jones. And while I don’t need another Indiana Jones movie, I would gladly read another Jaya Jones book.
I also liked how the book delved into some of the history of India. That might seem out of left field, because we’re in Scotland and San Francisco for the story, but Jaya is an Indian and American character, and has done her history degrees on India. I feel like when you’re talking about these adventure books, you get this mystical Asian culture or South American, but this feels more grounded in what it is doing. Pandian even adds some information about what actually happened in those periods of history and how it ties into her story. That was interesting to read through, though the discussion questions at the end are just weird to have there. This is a book that you really don’t need to think about as it’s a summer read, but apparently the author or publisher wanted it to be more. Even in books that are meant to be more educational than this one, those questions are generally dumb and not questions that I’d use, and this book isn’t an exception to the quality level of the discussion questions.
It’s summer and I like reading summer books, so this book hit a good spot for me. I’m curious to see how Pandian can develop the characters going forward and which characters will stick around from book to book. If they are all as straight forward as this one was, I’m not sure I’ll stick around for the full series, but with that said, if they keep up the fun romp and keep being fast reads they are a lot of fun. The quality is solid, and overall it’s enjoyable. I think that most people would like this series, but you have to know going in that you are getting a pretty light book.
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