Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel
Release Date - September 20, 2016
Publisher Website - Harper Canada
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 368 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Somewhere in the Badlands, embedded deep in centuries-buried rock and sand, lies the skeleton of a massive dinosaur, larger than anything the late nineteenth-century world has ever seen. Some legends call it the Black Beauty, with its bones as black as ebony, but to seventeen-year-old Samuel Bolt, it’s the “rex,” the king dinosaur that could put him and his struggling, temperamental archaeologist father in the history books (and conveniently make his father forget he’s been kicked out of school), if they can just quarry it out.

But Samuel and his father aren’t the only ones after the rex. For Rachel Cartland this find could be her ticket to a different life, one where her loves of science and adventure aren’t just relegated to books and sitting rooms. And if she can’t prove herself on this expedition with her professor father, the only adventures she may have to look forward to are marriage or spinsterhood.

As their paths cross and the rivalry between their fathers becomes more intense, Samuel and Rachel are pushed closer together. Their flourishing romance is one that will never be allowed. And with both eyeing the same prize, it’s a romance that seems destined for failure. As their attraction deepens, danger looms on the other side of the hills, causing everyone’s secrets to come to light and forcing Samuel and Rachel to make a decision. Can they join forces to find their quarry, and with it a new life together, or will old enmities and prejudices keep them from both the rex and each other?
Much of Every Hidden Thing feels unique. Its unique plot, romance, and writing style add up to a wonderfully crafted book about hunting dinosaurs, romance, and finding your own path in the world of your parents.

This novel offers up two points of view. We get both Rachel's narration as well as Samuel's story. Instead of switching chapters, the narration often switches within the same chapter. The narrator is distinguished by font type and very clear voice. It  was a little jarring at first, but once you get use to the style, it becomes effortless to read. Each of the characters is so strongly crafted that you get a sense of them rather easily so this narration seems natural.

Rachel shines the brightest in this book. She's focused, intelligent, driven, and unapologetic about her goals and ambition. She's exactly the type of character I want more of. She's not easily distracted from her goals, and is not willing to get them up for anything. She was interested in science in a time where many women were not favourably looked at for doing so.

The romance within these pages was also unique. There isn't an instant love connection. There is perhaps an insta-lust situation on Rachel's part, but I found Samuel's fascination with Rachel to be more real. She's not initially his type, and Rachel finds him too much of a pretty boy for her liking, but the intrigue they both feel is enough to compel them to get to know each other. The romance isn't one built on the stuff of rom-com legend, but instead one of harsh realities, uncertainty, and leaps of faith. They learn together how to be in this relationship and that is the most realistic element of all. It's built over time, and is more than just a physical attraction, even though that is part of it eventually. It feels earned, but also very real. They will have hard times, and sometimes be angry with each other, but you feel they care enough to work it out. It was refreshing because it felt so authentic and that really made me connect to this love story.

The star-crossed aspect of being the children of rival 'bone hunters' was intriguing. The fathers are used for comedic impact as well as adding an obstacle for the young lovers. Both fathers are loud, forceful personalities whose animosity perhaps stems from them being too similar. Their feud is made all the more tense as the reader is always aware of the ticking clock in the background and the streak of competition that runs through the desire to be first to discover something new.

The setting of the 'wild west' was well crafted as well. I could easily picture the archaeological sites, and the unrelenting dust and sun. The author easily puts you in the centre of the 'Bone Wars' and all that it entailed. From dangers, adventure, and turbulent interactions between the Native tribes of the land all lending an added tension to the story.

A novel for anyone who was obsessed with dinosaurs as a kid, and anyone who has wanted to participate in an archaeological dig. If you are looking for a little something different than the usual from the young adult market, this is exactly the book for you. Fans of Kenneth Oppel's other work will devour this latest offering, as will those with an interest in science. I predict, however, that even those without an interest in dinosaurs will find much to love within these pages. 

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