Thanks to NatGalley and Simon & Schuster Books For Young Children for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: October 11th, 2016
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 tempermental 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. Because 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. And with both eyeing the same prize, their budding romance seems destined to fail. But as danger looms on the other side of the hills, causing everyone’s secrets to come to light, Samuel and Rachel are forced 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?
What happened? A cross between Romeo & Juliet and Indiana Jones, penned by the popular and well-respected YA author, Kenneth Oppel. This should have been a slam dunk for me. While the blurb is definitely is not off the mark, the characters left me cold, which ultimately ruined the book for me. Samuel is a likable guy, but he’s fairly average and there’s nothing really memorable about him. And then there’s Rachel. *shaking head in dismay* Honestly–I think a mannequin would have more personality! While it was a nice change that she wasn’t a stereotypical beauty, and that she had a scientific mind, she was so flat that she came across as completely unrelatable. I did enjoy the plot as well as the adventurous pacing of the story though. The paleontology and wild west setting were fun and exciting. The Native American characters added diversity and were very well written. Except for my issues with Rachel, up until the last quarter of the book I was thinking this was going to turn out to be a somewhat fun, middle-grade adventure, but then the relationship between Samuel and Rachel turned sexual, and in my opinion resulted in some awkward and cringe-worthy scenes. I understand that the author was trying to make things realistic, but I really didn’t need the image of Rachel’s armpit hair or Samuel having trouble getting, um, aroused, fixed in my head. I don’t think the scenes were even necessary as they came nearer to the end and added nothing to the overall storyline. Their inclusion also leaves me unsure as to what age group I’d recommend this to. While I’m disappointed with Every Hidden Thing, I still think Kenneth Oppel is a brilliant author and I look forward to his next endeavor. And, as always, don’t rely on my humble opinion. If you pop over to Goodreads this book has garnered many good reviews.