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Every Hidden Thing

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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?

368 pages, Hardcover

First published September 20, 2016

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About the author

Kenneth Oppel

91 books2,569 followers
I was born in 1967 in Port Alberni, a mill town on Vancouver Island, British Columbia but spent the bulk of my childhood in Victoria, B.C. and on the opposite coast, in Halifax, Nova Scotia...At around twelve I decided I wanted to be a writer (this came after deciding I wanted to be a scientist, and then an architect). I started out writing sci-fi epics (my Star Wars phase) then went on to swords and sorcery tales (my Dungeons and Dragons phase) and then, during the summer holiday when I was fourteen, started on a humorous story about a boy addicted to video games (written, of course, during my video game phase). It turned out to be quite a long story, really a short novel, and I rewrote it the next summer. We had a family friend who knew Roald Dahl - one of my favourite authors - and this friend offered to show Dahl my story. I was paralysed with excitement. I never heard back from Roald Dahl directly, but he read my story, and liked it enough to pass on to his own literary agent. I got a letter from them, saying they wanted to take me on, and try to sell my story. And they did.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 378 reviews
Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews1,013 followers
September 25, 2016

When I first heard about this book I thought, hmm, Wild West, dinosaurs, Romeo and Juliet - what an intriguing mix! I definitely need to read this book, plus the cover is gorgeous. And so the waiting began: it was one of my most anticipated releases of the month. Imagine my surprise when everything derailed so fast, I couldn't even say "Bummer".

I will split the structure of this book in two: on one side we have the plot, on the other side we have characters.

The story follows two rival families of archeologist; they both want to find the king of the dinosaurs -tyrannosaur "Rex" and become famous. Feuding fathers ask both their children to spy on each other for valuable information, and, as you can guess, the children fall in love. But their romantic relationship wasn't what kept me reading, it was the description of 19th century archeology and what it took to risk your life for the sake of ancient bones and dust. It is not as romantic as one can imagine: the job is dirty and takes a lot of effort and no guarantee of success; plus there's quite a difficult situation with Native American tribes, and to be on your own without army for protection is pretty dangerous. The book will introduce readers to the hardship of the "romantic" profession. I really liked that side of the book and it kept me interested till the end.

The characters, though, were a complete disappointment. Unfortunately, it's a rare case when I must admit the author did a poor job creating a female character. The heroine turned out cold, cardboard, mannish and absolutely unlikable. I had way more sympathy toward the hero who was more feminine and feeling than his beloved could ever dream.

What good can you expect when MC spends five minutes in heroines company and already has a boner? Moreover, he irrecoverably fell in love with the said girl. After. Five. Minutes.

She looked at me, and I couldn’t look away. <...>It took me completely by surprise: With absolute certainty, I knew I’d fall in love with her.

But it's even worse, because the heroine supposedly likes him too, but she doesn't like his kissing.
"His kissing was hurried and too hard. So his actual kisses did not please me much, but him wanting to give them to me did very much.

She wants independence from her father, and when the hero promises her he'll let her go to the university, and she doesn't have to have kids right now, she grabs the opportunity and agrees to marry him. I understand that it shows how difficult life for girls was back then, but this chick was supposed to like the poor boy. All I wanted to call her was bitch.

But what I disliked even more between these two is how their intimate life together was shown.

Hurriedly I stripped off my sweaty trousers and shirt and vest and underpants. In dismay I looked down to see myself—that part which had always been so lively and troublesome in the past—suddenly and completely withered.
“It’s . . . ,” I mumbled, tensing my thigh muscles and urging it to lift, “suddenly defective. I don’t know what to do with the fellow.”

Please no, I don't need to know that you can't get it up.
The deep curve of her waist where I’d gripped tight, the damp hair of her underarms.

I get that we all have hairs in different places, but it's not romantic when you put it like that: it's actually disgusting.

And my favorite:

Later he snored; once he passed wind quite musically. I hadn’t imagined what it would be like to share a bed with a man—especially one so active and greedy in his sleep.

I don't want to hear about your farting or smelling or having hair in places and such. I suppose the author wanted to make the book as realistic as possible, but I don't know anyone among my friends who'd want to read about such reality.

Also, characters' relationship felt far-fetched; the hero is a handsome boy and the heroine is plain (she is not even pretty), but hero falls for her from the first sight anyway. I get when a girl is a beauty and a boy falls for her, but that doesn't guarantee it's true love: it's easier to like a pretty face. Here I had no idea why he fell for the girl. Plus, the more they secretly dated, the more the heroine seemed unfeeling. I am not even sure she realized whether she loves him in the end. It was a total mess. Plus their peculiar relationship spoiled the plot completely. As I mentioned, I absolutely liked the historical part, but the romance made it impossible to like the whole book. Even the ending, when you suppose to root for characters and wish they finally found the dinosaur, I felt nothing.

I still have a sour taste in my mouth after I finished this book. I debated for a whole day whether to give it two or three stars and decided farting is not my thing, after all.

Generally, if you are interested in archeology and how it occurred in the 19th century, you can try this book, but be ready for the characters, whose voices will be your guide in a sea of bones. You need to ask yourself: are you ready for that or not?

Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,261 reviews8,753 followers
Shelved as 'perhaps'
February 4, 2016
Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones in this this new YA epic from Printz-winning author Kenneth Oppel that combines the hunt for a dinosaur skeleton buried for millions of years, a mysterious legend, bitter rivalries and a forbidden romance.

Umm . . . YES, please.

Profile Image for Empress Reece (Hooked on Books).
915 reviews78 followers
October 25, 2016
Finding Fossils, Finding InstaLove...

If you're not a big fan of "insta-love" then you'll probably be doing some major face palms while reading this book. Two of the main characters, Rachel & Sam, don't just think they're in love, they go from full fledged bumbling innocents in record time- with ALL details included unfortunately! 

I liked how the characters deviated from the norm though and didn't follow their strict society rules. I wasn't expecting their bold, rash moves which I have to give them credit for. It made for a nice change and was hilariously entertaining! 

The rivalry and fighting between their two fathers though felt too contrived and became a little irritating after a while. There was just too much of it I think. 

Anyone who has an interest in paleontology or fossil hunting or even if you just enjoy a grand adventure, you'll especially like this one! Don't take it too seriously though and just have fun with it and you'll enjoy it a lot more!

*I received this ARC from NetGalley & Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

80% Professional Reader Reviews Published 2016 NetGalley Challenge

Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews710 followers
October 16, 2016
***This review has also been posted on Xpresso Reads

The Airborn series was one of my favs ever growing up so I was immediately like YAAS to Every Hidden Thing but then I saw it was pitched as Indiana Jones meets Romeo & Juliet and was like double YAAS. WHO CAN RESIST THE COMBO of a childhood fav author and INDIANA JONES MEETS ROMEO & JULIET? Not me obviously. Anyway, I loved this book and that is all you’re ever going to need to know in your life. BYE NOW. See you again someday.




*comes back reluctantly to finish reviewing this book*

Every Hidden Thing is fucking amazing brain candy but just because it was brain candy does NOT mean it was easy to read. This book is set sometime in the 19th century (probably late 19th century) so there is a LOT of racism in this book. There are so many secondary characters who just suck because they aren’t empathetic and are so so ignorant. I had to put the book down a lot to take breathers because it was really intense but I am glad that Oppel doesn’t brush over these horrifying realities. Through our main characters though, he reminds us how important it is to be an empathetic human being who tries to see the other side of the story. There is also some things some of the adult characters do that made me feel more hopeful as I was reading.

The MCs were pretty great but I adored Rachel. Rachel is smart and isn’t ashamed of it. She has a father who doesn’t appreciate her smartness but over the course of the book, she learns to say fuck you to him so she can be the smartest smarty pants ever. I would say more coherent things about her but you can just READ THE BOOK.

One thing that I wasn’t completely on board with was the romance. I love love-to-hate romances but they are HARD to write in a way that completely works. I think Rachel and Samuel have chemistry and I love that their attraction starts off as being intellectual and then develops from there but it’s still instalove and I don’t like instalove. To be fair, it’s mostly Samuel who has a case of instalove and Rachel is all like nah boy, I just met you and this is crazy so take a chill pill.

You might not think of it right away but this book, on top of being an adventure has lots of western vibes because they go on a dig somewhere in the west coast. I LOVE IT. I loved how the dig was mapped out and the struggles the various parties experienced. There was also a lot of rivalry and two adults being a-holes to each other because toxic masculinity. BUT there was something that happened towards the end of the book that I wish we could have spent more time on so I could have had even more fun living vicariously through these characters.

Read this book if you’re into: Archaeological digs, brainy flirting, smart girls and adventures.

Note that I received a finished copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Amy.
272 reviews74 followers
July 6, 2016
When I was younger, I went through a brief phase where I really wanted to be an archaeologist. I was always more interested in the finding-things-in-the-ground aspect of archaeology than the actual artifacts, and this book made the kid in me really happy. It was basically everything I never knew I wanted to read about. The premise of this book hooked me from the moment I heard it, and I had to drop everything to read it immediately.

Every Hidden Thing is pitched as Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones, and I think that is quite possibly the most accurate tag line I’ve ever heard. Rachel and Sam are the children of feuding paleontologists who bond over their shared love of science. They, along with their fathers, end up at the same sight searching for the same game-changing fossil, and drama ensues. I loved reading about the digs that they went on and the history of the feud between their fathers. The romance between Rachel and Sam felt a little forced at times, but I really enjoyed both of their characters. I think it might have been better had they remained friends, but the romance is by no means on the same level of drama and passion as Romeo and Juliet, so I didn’t feel like it detracted too much from my enjoyment of the story.

The main issue I had with this book was that I didn’t feel a strong connection to any of the characters. The narrative switches back and froth between Sam’s point of view and Rachel’s, and I enjoyed both of their voices, but I didn’t feel any attachment to them. The characters were definitely likeable, but I didn’t feel for them like I hoped to.

Profile Image for Melissa (thereaderandthechef).
532 reviews176 followers
October 24, 2016
*This review can also be found on YA Books Central and in Spanish at The Reader and the Chef. Thoughts are based on an eARC received from the publisher.*

An Adventurous Tale of Fossils and Forbidden Romance!

If there's one historical YA book about romance, travel, and adventure to read in 2016, it's this one. Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel is surely a gem to be discovered by readers eager to board a train into the late nineteenth-century America and spend a summer unearthing dinosaur fossils à la Romeo and Juliet and Indiana Jones style.

When I first set me eyes upon this book, I knew it would be the perfect read for me. The book tingles started once I started reading the first page and they never stopped throughout the whole book. From page one to the last page, Kenneth Oppel had me glued with Rachel and Samuel's story, begging to know if they would ever find their most wanted treasure.

What I Loved:

The realistic perspective on a love story between two young adults. I really enjoyed the way Rachel and Sam's relationship develops and their inner monologues about their feelings. It was refreshing how the author doesn't try to romanticize completely their interactions and instead shows how teens usually think when finding themselves with a new love interest. I found this to be extremely relatable and at times funny!

I love how all the characters, including Rachel and Sam, are extremely passionate about their love for archaeology and how they work non-stop to accomplish their dreams. I specially loved Rachel's tenacity to pursue a career in this field since back in the 1800s, young women were expected to just sit tight and hope to get married to a decent man with no hope for an education beyond sewing and cooking. However, Rachel proves this idea wrong by digging her way through her father's profession as an archaeologist and demonstrating how's she's cut out for this adventurous lifestyle. Samuel's life is a bit easier when it comes to choosing what he wants to be, yet funds and reputation are what's holding him back, thus his need to demonstrate to the world (and his father) his ability to work on fossils and how he can leave his own legacy behind.

I'm no expert with dinosaur fossils (or any other animal), yet I did not struggle to follow the story's trail when characters switched back and forth with archaeology terms. I even learned a thing or two, including how those who found animal fossils used to name them after themselves plus mixing in a few words in Latin that would usually describe in some way the animal. Quite creative and pretty neat!

The Romeo and Juliet touch in Every Hidden Thing is well drawn with the enmity between both of the main character's fathers. A totally different setting, but the richness and essence of Shakespeare's famous play can be sensed within this book's pages.

What Left Me Wanting More:

Nothing. Wait, maybe a few more amazing pages!

And, as a side note, I have to add that this book has a bit of mature content so it's one I'd recommend for the older YA audience. It's not explicit, but it's safe to say that it might raise a few eyebrows and giggles.

That's it.

Final Verdict:

Every Hidden Thing is the romantic historical adventure book readers will take pleasure of digging into its pages. I highly recommend!

*Spanish Book Review/ Reseña en Español*

Si hay un libro de historia juvenil por leer en el 2016 sobre romance, viajes y aventura, debe ser éste. Every Hidden Thing (Cada Cosa Oculta) por Kenneth Oppel es sin duda una joya por descubrir por aquellos lectores que desean subir a un tren en el Estados Unidos del siglo XIX y pasar un verano desenterrando fósiles de dinosaurios al estilo de Romeo y Julieta e Indiana Jones.

Cuando vi por primera vez este libro, supe que iba a ser la lectura perfecta para mí. Empecé a sentir esa sensación de que sería una excelente lectura al leer la primera página y que honestamente, nunca paró a lo largo del libro. Desde la primera hasta la última página, Kenneth Oppel me enganchó con la historia de Rachel y Samuel, esperando el momento en el que encontrarían el gran tesoro que tanto buscaban.

Lo que me gustó:

Me encantó la perspectiva realista sobre una historia de amor entre dos jóvenes adultos. Me gustó la forma en que se desarrolla la relación de Rachel y Sam y como cuestionan internamente sus sentimientos. Fue refrescante la manera en que el autor no trata de idealizar completamente las interacciones entre estos dos personajes, pero si cómo los adolescentes piensan (generalmente) al encontrarse con un nuevo amor. Me resultó muy fácil identificarme con ésto y bastante divertido.

También me gustó cómo todos los personajes, incluyendo Rachel y Sam, son muy apasionados por la arqueología. Se notó principalmente en la forma en que trabajan sin descanso para lograr sus sueños. Pero sobre todo, me gustó la tenacidad de Rachel para seguir una carrera en este campo a pesar de que, en los años de 1800, se espera que las mujeres jóvenes sean dóciles, esperando casarse con un hombre decente sin esperanza de una educación más allá de coser y cocinar. Sin embargo, Rachel demuestra esta idea equivocada cavando su camino a través de la profesión de su padre como un arqueólogo y demostrando cómo ella está hecha para seguir este estilo de vida de aventuras. La vida de Samuel es un poco más fácil cuando se trata de elegir lo que quiere ser, sin embargo, los fondos y la reputación son lo que lo están frenando, razón por la cuál surge su necesidad de demostrar al mundo (y a su padre) su capacidad para trabajar en los fósiles y cómo él puede dejar su propio legado en el mundo.

No soy una experta en fósiles de dinosaurios (o cualquier otro animal), sin embargo, no me resultó difícil seguir el rastro de la historia cuando los personajes utilizaban muchos términos arqueológicos. Incluso aprendí un par de cosas, como el dato de que los arqueólogos al encontrar fósiles de animales utilizaban sus nombres más la mezcla en unas pocas palabras en latín (que solía describir de alguna manera el animal) para nombrarlos. Bastante creativo, ¿no lo creen?

El toque de Romeo y Julieta en Every Hidden Thing también fue bien incorporado con la enemistad entre los dos padres de los personajes principales. Tiene un entorno totalmente diferente, pero la riqueza y la esencia de la famosa obra de Shakespeare puede ser detectada dentro de las páginas de este libro.

Lo que me dejó con ganas de más:

Nada. Bueno, tal vez más páginas. ¡Me hubiera encantado pasar más tiempo en este libro!

Y, como nota al margen, tengo que añadir que este libro tiene un poco de contenido para adultos por lo que si lo recomendaría para los audiencia juvenil más madura. No es tan explícito, pero si algo sugestivo.

Eso es todo.

Veredicto final:

Every Hidden Thing es una lectura perfecta para los amantes del romance, aventuras e historia. ¡Lo recomiendo mucho!
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,280 reviews1,655 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
April 21, 2017
Pages read: 11 (less than one chapter)

The writing reads really contemporary to me, and there's so little that grounds the story in 1874. Both narrative voices are immensely awkward. Because it doesn't feel historical, the boy comes off like a kindly, flirty grandpa, and the girl's narration is dry and awkwardly scientific.

After I decided to DNF, and I decided to flip ahead to the sex scenes which are perhaps the most awful, awkward things I've ever read. *coughs* This is what happens when men write romance.*coughs* Quotes ahead.

Hurriedly I stripped off my sweaty trousers and shirt and vest and underpants. In dismay I looked down to see myself—that part which had always been so lively and troublesome in the past—suddenly and completely withered.
“It’s . . . ,” I mumbled, tensing my thigh muscles and urging it to lift, “suddenly defective. I don’t know what to do with the fellow.” “Let him alone for now,” she said.
“Lie down beside me.”

The awkward, it burns.

“I think it’s seen many,” she laughed, bouncing on the saggy mattress.
We each bounced a bit, seeing who could make the longest and most tortured squeak. The sheets, though clean enough, couldn’t quite conceal the mildew of the mattress. And a faint whiff of urine that came and went when one moved around. But our door was bolted, and the window curtained, and this little room was ours alone.


When I moved myself on top of her, it took a bit of fumbling to find the right place. But after that it felt like her body and mine, all our parts, were designed to fit perfectly together.
She winced. Her eyes were wide, and we watched each other, mesmerized. I felt a huge heat and urgency flooding me, but her face flinched with my movements. Then her eyes closed tight and her eyelids crinkled and water beaded from their edges.

I mean, points for authenticity, I guess, but god this is miserable.

I stroked her hair and inhaled her scent and stared at the ceiling. I couldn’t quite believe anything right now. I felt exultant and terrified. I felt like a conquering hero, and like a soldier shot and waiting for death. I felt that I’d never sleep again, but I did. We both did.

Apparently this is how he feels after having sex for the first time, during which all she felt was immense pain.

And then I didn’t want to be alone any longer, so I kissed your mole, traced its shape with the tip of my tongue.

I did not need this level of detail tbh. Shortly after this, their dads burst in and find them in bed.

Because now the pain was fading, and I was beginning to recognize the pleasurable tightening, the spreading heat I sometimes gave myself, only this time it was more urgent, and much, much better.

The second time they have sex (and yes, the description is still awkward). It culminates in her supposedly orgasming but raise your hand if you buy that. *puts hand on floor*

We kissed each other for a long time, and as the train shuddered and pulled and rocked through the darkness, our hands moved over each other, exploratory, gentle at first. We were patient with each other, and then neither of us could be patient anymore. Your right hand still hurt, but we figured it out—we were very clever, both of us, with our hands—and the only difficult part for me was not crying out.

Suddenly it's in like weird hybrid third/second on the LAST PAGE OF THE BOOK. Understand that these next quotes are how this book ends.

I nestled with my back against your chest and stomach, your legs folded with mine, your arm across my breast, enclosed on all sides by you, and your unique marinade of desert and sweat and rarely laundered clothes, and yet you still managed to smell good.

YOUR UNIQUE MARINADE OF DESERT AND SWEAT AND RARELY LAUNDERED CLOTHES. Look, Oppel, I get that people in the past smelled bad most of the time, but romance readers do not want to be reminded of that during sexy times.

As the train moved us east across the prairie, across that ancient inland sea, I thought how little of us got left behind after death. How none of the most important parts survived. It all decomposed: kisses, caresses, tongues, mouths. Passion spent itself in our animal heat, dissipated as vapor, left no permanent record. No echoes of spoken words, moans, gasps, endearments would be stored in the earth’s layers.

I just.

I hoped that when they found us, me and you, we’d be entwined together just like this, among the dinosaurs, in the ruins of the world.

*is ded, like the dinos*
919 reviews255 followers
June 12, 2017
I so, so wanted to love this. The Silverwing series was a childhood favourite, and Airborn was a pretty decent read too. And this one had dinosaurs!. It just didn't... work. At all.

Every Hidden Thing starts with a sickening case of instalove, and never improves from there. The characters aren't particularly likeable, and the star-crossed lovers theme gets old quick. The plot is implausible , and there's little sense of risk and reward from it.

And then near the end of the book, it all goes really weird, and even mildly abusive (or not so mildly?) and suddenly the plot is rushing up at you in an effort to finish and it's done.
Profile Image for Bri.
41 reviews29 followers
July 24, 2019
Too much kissing not enough dinosaurs.
Profile Image for Tala .
192 reviews90 followers
December 13, 2016
I received an Advanced Reader's Copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This has not influenced my opinion in any way.

2.5 stars.

This book is basically dinosaurs+Romeo and Juliet+WildWest.

And if that doesn't sound interesting enough, I don't know what does.

Because, let's look at the big picture, shall we? This should've worked. This should've at least gotten higher than..a meager 3 stars? And let's not forget that even that rating is rounded up. Actual rating is 2.5 stars, fyi.

Alright, this calls for a THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY review format, so here goes:


This is one of those cases that I loved everything but the characters.
The archaeological aspect was fantastic.
The whole "rival family" issue (because this is, more or less, a R&J retelling. Less, I guess. But it echoes the storyline, so there's that) was on point.
It was interesting. It was engaging.
The race to find the Rex? Yes, please.
And a Wild West setting on top of all that? This should've been the recipe for awesomeness.

See? This should've been amazing. This should've gotten a full five, because I actually wanted to give it five. I was ready for that. Oh, how disappointing.


The characters. Oh, the characters. Flat. Cardboard cutouts. Samuel is only slightly better. And when I say slightly, I mean that I couldn't care less about him, but I still read on. So, you could say I'm perhaps..neutral about him.
Now, Rachel is a completely different story. She is paper-thin. Monotone. Irritating. Don't get me started on Rachel.

Really, it's amazing how fast this went from starting out strongly to just..falling flat.


Oh boy. Let me start off with my personal favorite: insta-love, just add water. Oh no. No, no, no.
It's love at first sight, guys. Love at first sight. I'm dead serious when I say this: give me a love triangle instead. Anything. Anything but insta-love.

But see, there are now those arguing: but R&J is insta-love and Every Hidden Thing is based partly on it!

To which I respond: you're absolutely right. But that is precisely what I hate in R&J. And this is supposed to be true love, no? Well, then. No insta-love, please.

Moving on.

Be warned: The writing could get a bit weird. The descriptions, at times, felt almost..nonsensical. That's never a good sign.

But still, some people overlook this. You could enjoy the writing just fine, so this may be a case of me being over-critical. But that's what makes me a thorough reviewer, no?

- - -

Alright then. For those wondering why I gave it a 2.5?
Easy: 0.5 star for potential. 1 for setting. 1 for originality. (Rounded up for originality)
2 stars lost for characters and writing.

But, this isn't completely new to me. I'd liken this to my experience with The Wrath and the Dawn, in terms of my dislike for the characters and their romance but my love for the world-building.

But TWatD still has many readers who like it, no?
So will this, I'm sure. I have a feeling this will be popular, but it's simply not for me.
Profile Image for Christaaay .
379 reviews182 followers
November 21, 2016
“We’d set out from Crowe at first light, and the grassland seemed endless. But after another few minutes, a crack appeared in the prairie. As we trotted closer, with every second the crack widened and deepened into a vast canyon that spread to the horizon.

A sunken world within our own. Water and glaciers and time had scooped it out, leaving behind a windy river and tall weathered buttes and mazes of ravines. The steep slopes showed all their ancient layers—tawny, black, gray, red—like the diagrams in Father’s geology books.”

Many reviewers have heard this novel described as Indiana Jones meets Romeo and Juliet, and that’s exactly what it is.

Premise : Professor Cartland and Professor Bolt feud like the Capulets and the Montagues. But these two American professors war over something brand new on the 19th century western frontier: dinosaur bones. Particularly the bones of what young Samuel Bolt likes to call the “rex.” When Samuel Bolt and Rachel Cartland, the teenaged offspring of the rival professors, fall in love, the race to find the rex gets even more complicated. YA Crossover Historical/Western Romance thing. Published October 11, 2016 by Simon and Schuster.

Thoughts : I knew from reading Airborne that I could easily love Kenneth Oppel's work. His enthusiasm for the details is contagious and his prose is flawless. His novel Airborne lacks narrative drive and the character development that would have made it a spectacular read, for me; but I was still amazed by the details of the airships and all the research that went into portraying the luxury airliners. So when I saw Every Hidden Thing, I was immensely curious to see how Oppel had developed his writing.

Samuel Bolt and Rachel Cartland narrate the book. Samuel is a budding paleontologist hampered by his father’s reputation as a passionate but unschooled and impoverished “professor.” He knows they must travel to the Badlands to find the dinosaur of dinosaurs, which he dubs “tyrannosaurus rex,” in order to secure their fortunes and reputations.

Then he meets Rachel.

Rachel Cartland is a serious student of paleontology who dreams, above all, of getting a college degree and rising high in the field. She’s a tough girl who recognizes the possibilities that women should and don’t have, in the late 19th century. When she makes a risky but successful move, out in the field, her father reacts badly, and she thinks,

“This was not the reaction I’d been hoping for. If I’d been a boy would he have praised me for my devotion, my initiative?”

But she never feels sorry for herself. She just pushes on to the next opportunity. She works hard to get to the Badlands with her father, and when they find one of the rex teeth, she becomes as determined as Samuel to find the prize.

Some reviewers are complaining that Rachel seems cold and unfeeling. On the contrary, I find Rachel the most compelling protagonist of the entire cast. YA often tries and miserably fails to portray the plain, but unusually bright teenage girl. Oppel pulls it off with a brainy first person narration, paired with the life experiences that would realistically go along with her characteristics. I think he imagined Rachel with fantastic precision.

The relationship between Rachel and Samuel brings them both to life, just as the rivalry brings their fathers to life. Rachel doesn’t drive the plot, the way Samuel does, but she does drive Samuel onward. Sam wants nothing so much as to be loved, and Rachel’s admiration and liking inspire him to man up, instead of letting his father run his life. I love their relationship so, so much, although it does get a little more, er, adult, than I would normally green light for a YA novel. It’s just done so well, though!

A few reviewers complained about the romance being “awkward,” and I’m pretty sure I know why. This book breaks all the YA romance stereotypes and I LOVE that about it. But not everyone will. It feels like a historical fiction romance…because that’s what it is. This is not an airbrushed romance because there is nothing discreet about an archaeological dig in the 19th century badlands. In addition, real relationships are hard and require communication; unlike this novel, the typical YA romance fails to accurately convey that reality.

I also love how Oppel brings a personal quality to every subject he examines. Samuel and his father are Quakers, and Oppel manages to share the heart of the Quaker faith while also showing the very fallible representatives humanity can be of faith. The book also takes our travelers straight into the territories of two Native American Plains tribes: Lakota Sioux and Pawnee. Oppel carefully portrays the multitude of confused perspectives on Natives during this time period, then personalizes the Natives and their problems.

Samuel on his pre-badlands experience with Natives:

“I didn’t know much about Indians. The only one I’d ever seen, at a circus back home, turned out to be a man in face paint who was actually speaking Latvian.”

But later on, Samuel interacts with the Natives and gives their plight a lot of thought. After he and his crew narrowly survive an attack by an unspecified group of Natives, he offers the perspective,

“We’d fight, too…if it were the other way around. Wouldn’t we?”

The Booklist review complains that the ending of the book “smacks of cultural appropriation,” but I love how the ending brings the Sioux mythology to life.

Other Stuff : I did have two major complaints: (1) The beginning of this book really should tell readers when the book is set. The author’s note at the back helps, but teen readers may not check there and may not realize that the book is set during the late 19th century. (2) The plot involves a few major coincidences, related to finding the rex bones. Thankfully, the book really isn’t about the plot—it’s a very character-driven work.

Overall :

Plot: 3 Stars
Setting: 5 Stars
Characters: 5 Stars
Writing: 5 Stars

The average of these scores is 4.5 stars, but I don’t care. I’m rounding up to five stars because this book deserves every single one. Not only does Oppel perfectly develop the characters and the dry hope of the American dream out West, he examines religious life and Natives with the same amount of care, all in the context of a gripping drama.

Recommendation : I’m going to recommend ages 16+ on this one, mostly because of the schmexy scenes (yes, there are multiple). But really…I loved this book. Highly recommended to fans of historical fiction and crossover YA. I already got a copy for my library!
Profile Image for Celena.
31 reviews
July 10, 2023
this was really interesting... i've had this book on my tbr list for a while now and i finally got around to reading it. I've liked kenneth oppel's other books so i had pretty high expectations for this one but for some reason it was kinda strange to me
i don't really see oppel as a romance writer so this was very new to me however i gasped multiple times when the romance was romancing
i've also noticed that oppel tends to write his protagonists as almost always the same kinda plain guy who is a little insecure and has no rizz (that's the best I can explain it)
one little nitpick though, the final third of the book gave me whiplash, it felt like he was scrambling to finish the book with a satisfying conclusion
i don't wanna be too harsh on this because i genuinely had fun reading this !!! but maybe i'm just not a romance book girly and thats ok
Profile Image for Adriyanna Zimmermann.
114 reviews110 followers
September 14, 2016
This was a 4-4.5 for me.

EVERY HIDDEN THING by Kenneth Oppel is an entertaining, dinosaur-digging, adventure novel with a hint of Romeo and Juliet. I absolutely loved this and I suspect that after its publication, there'll be a big increase in kids wanting to be palaeontologists. Set during the 19th century and inspired in part by "The Bone Wars", this book follows two teenagers who are determined to find this infamous dinosaur with the power to change lives.

Fairly early on the reader is able to figure out what dinosaur Samuel and Rachel are on the hunt for, but this doesn't deter from the novel. I was still completely enthralled, I think even knowing the dinosaur made it more entertaining. It's all about the journey, the thrill of the chase. This dinosaur can change someone's career, so there's also that element of "what if they don't find it".

This book is in first person point of view (POV) and alternates between Rachel Cartland and Samuel Bolt. These two teenagers are quite similar; both of their mothers are dead and their fathers loathe each other, always trying to beat the other when it comes to their field of science: palaeontology. Rachel's father believes one should have a university degree and the fact that Samuel's father has published more papers than him and doesn't have a degree really grinds his gears. This is where the "Romeo and Juliet" theme comes in. Sometimes the POV would switch within chapters so the author uses a different font style to make the difference clear to the reader. I found the transition wasn't always smooth and even with the difference in font style, I would still miss the switch.

I loved the romance between Rachel and Samuel and felt it was so realistic! Neither of the two really hate each other but their parents' rivalry does find ways in. The two have an instant attraction to each other, but there's also anger, doubt, jealousy, etc. Oppel is fantastic with this.

This book is set during the 19th century and the author never names a specific time (if he did I missed it), which I felt was both a positive and negative. I like being able to imagine everything, down to the exact time. This being fiction, I think not naming it helps with that. There are some things in this novel that have to be changed to fit the story.


This being the 19th century, the field of palaeontology is largely made up of white men. Rachel herself has a hard time being taken seriously, as a white woman. The majority of characters are white; the only POC are secondary/minor characters. The rep didn't seem terrible, but I'm not the sort of reviewer who can confirm this. I do think it could have been better. The dinosaur Rachel and Samuel are searching for, was found about a decade or two before by a Sioux man. I think the two characters should have said if they found this dinosaur that man should be credited. I have no idea if anything like that happened in real life, but I feel it would have been the right choice. Someone might say maybe it happens after the novel ended. If I didn't see it happen on the page, I as the reader cannot assume anything.


*Review may still be edited/added to.

I received an advance readers copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lily (Night Owl Book Cafe).
559 reviews466 followers
February 7, 2017
Every Hidden Thing is described as a story of Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones. It's a story about two paleontologists and their kids in search of the Black Beauty or "rex" one of the biggest dinosauria to be discovered at its time in North America. It is also loosely based on a historical event called "Bone Wars"

I don't know where to begin. I hate, HATE writing bad reviews so I am going to make this as positive as I can.

Samuel and Rachel are the children of two feuding paleontologists. Both of their father's get a hint from the same source about a possible massive carnivorous dinosaur, awaiting to be discovered in the west in the area called the Badlands. A lot becomes at stake as the two families compete as to who is to find the dinosaur. Samuel and Rachel find unlikely in each other as their father's behaviors drive them to form a force in hopes of recovering the bones themselves.

What did I like about this book?

The story-line was interesting. I like that Oppel went out of his way and did a bit of research into both the Native American culture and the Bone Wars before including it in his book. It added substance to the book and made it slightly more believable.
The writing in itself was pretty good and consistent. Nothing in particularly dragged and I managed to get through the book fairly quickly.
The book was about discovering dinosaurs and working in the field, which I found fascinating especially given the time period and the territory wars between Native American's and the white man.


So why the two and a half stars? POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

I disliked the characters tremendously. I absolutely hated the fathers and the two main characters alike. The adults in this book had been just very childlike, and although I don't doubt that maybe there was some truth to it based on history, the behavior at times were downright disgusting. Honestly, I disliked all the characters so much I am surprised I finished this.
Rachel's father was especially horrendous in his actions, especially when he sawed off the dead Native American's head and then at one part of the book ironically insisted that he was not a savage. Their actions sometimes made me sick.

"We  could give him a good trashing," said Daniel Simpson.

I looked at him in revulsion; at the same moment my father sternly said. "That won't be necessary. We're not savages. What you can do is fetch the heads. They're in the storage wagon."

The book is from the point of view of Rachel and Samuel and I just couldn't get behind these two characters. Rachel was in no way someone I could relate to and Samuel I just generally disliked. There was instant love on Samuel's behalf, and Rachel was about as emotional as a dry wall. There was no substance to her character outside of her passion for going to a university.
The romance was horrible. Samuel fell in love with Rachel quickly and could not understand why she did not reciprocate his feelings. He acted as if he was doing her a favore at being in love with her and basically called her emotionless and plain looking to her face. Once again, I found myself struggling to finish this book at that point. I found the behavior disgusting and childish and I was starting to wonder if Samuel was younger then he was suppose to be because he sure as hell acted like he was.
To top it off the two decide to ditch their father and their childlike behavior and join forces by running off and getting married. What? Why? How does this make any sense? The romance felt forced to begin with and all the sudden these two are getting married? Of course after they get married Samuel's behavior towards Rachel turns absolutely crappy when he starts to realize they got married too young and he might not be able to support her. So he gets pissy and moody and treats her like crap. She knew how he was before she got married to him so it absolutely makes NO sense that she decided to go through with it anyway. And oh god, he gets super pissed off because she doesn't want to have his babies... what? what? what did I just read?!
Also, there were super awkward sex scenes, farts and armpit hair. Need I say more?

I got a little more passionate and irritated as the review went on, I apologize for that. It could have been better, it had the potential to be fantastic, but it fell flat. I came into this book ready to love it, expectations were high. When I think of Indiana Jones the first thing that comes to mind is archeology, adventure, action, danger and passion. Indiana Jones this book was not.This review was originally posted on Night Owl Book Cafe
February 28, 2017
Every Hidden Thing is written by Kenneth Oppel. I have read some of his books in the past and really enjoyed them but this one was not anything like his other and was quite disappointing. I think that the difference is that he tried to write this book for an older audience than his other books. The actual plot of this book is very good and his word choice and writing style that he used was effective and suited the book well. It is about a boy and a girl who are from two rival fossil hunting families in the wild west. Each family goes on an expedition in the badlands to find an amazing dinosaur, which ends up being the first T Rex. They end up in the same spot and there is a lot of competition. At the same time, the boy and girl start to fall for each other. It is kind of a Romeo and Juliet mixed with Indian Jones. I liked the adventure side of it but the author put a LOT of over the top romance in it and it ruined the book. When I bought this book, I did not realize exactly what it was supposed to be and was really looking for more of an adventure book. I ended having a hard time finishing it. I would definitely not suggest this book as the good story ends up being covered up by the romance. Even if you are into that kind of stuff, I do not think you would like it as his descriptions of everything are very weird and almost gross. It was definitely not what I was expecting and was big a disappointment.
Profile Image for Kelesea.
950 reviews16 followers
November 27, 2016
Title: Every Hidden Thing

Author: Kenneth Oppel

Age Group: Teen/Young Adult

Genre: Adeventure/Romance

Series: N/A, standalone

Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I'd like to start this review on a slightly personal note: I'm sorry I've been inactive lately! My husband and I just moved into our brand new house, and these past couple of weeks have been a hectic flurry of packing, unpacking, cleaning, and getting our affairs in order. You guys have been on my mind through it all, and I've missed all of you terribly, so I'm playing catchup now! Okay, on to the actual review.

Kenneth Oppel already won my heart with his teen Frankenstein series, so I'm not going to lie: I'm just the tiniest bit biased. But bear with me, I promise that this review is worth it. Do you love historical fiction? How about adventures, complete with exciting twists and treasures? Forbidden romance so real and bittersweet that your knees get weak? Beautiful prose? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you need to go to your local library or bookstore and get this book. Make sure you clear your schedule, because once you start this novel, you won't be able to put it down.

Rachel Cartland and Samuel Bolt are the two children of prominent, successful academics who have devoted their lives, at the turn of the eighteenth century, to unearthing bones of beasts long gone from our world: dinosaurs. The two teens race against each other to find dinosaur bones before their rival, and in the process, somehow, manage to fall in love. Forced to choose between what their fathers want for them and each other, the two realize that despite everything, first love might be worth risking it all...

I loved this book. Truly, I loved it. It was just so good. The premise and concept were wholly original, and I also really loved the way that Oppel blended genres like a pro: historical fiction, romance, action and adventure, to create something totally new. While this and the prose was wonderful, it was honestly the way the book went back and forth between Sam and Rachel that really made me love this book. The pacing, too, was breakneck; I couldn't put it down, and when I did, it was constantly on my mind. It was absolutely lovely, and the only real flaw was that there isn't more! This book is easily one of my favorites of the whole year! The bottom line: A fantastic, completely original book from one of my favorite authors, Every Hidden Thing is one of my favorite books of the year! Next on deck: Possession by Elana Johnson!

Profile Image for Cheryl.
9,813 reviews418 followers
January 21, 2018
Why can historical fiction almost never have humor? At least this isn't relentlessly depressing, and even has a few moments of joy. And about 4/5 through there is one slapstick scene. But that's it, and that's more than most.

I did like the young lovers - unlike another reviewer, I found their infatuation & friendship entirely believable. I also did feel like I got to know them as individuals, not just as 19th-century versions of Juliet and Romeo. And yet I just didn't feel like I wanted a love story... but then it got more interesting.... I do think the cover would be better if it were semi-symmetrical, if Samuel were facing Rachel across the breadth of it.

But I thought the fathers' behaviors a bit over-the-top. The author's note mentions research, so maybe they're accurate; nonetheless they didn't feel real to me. The bits about the Sioux/Lakota and the Pawnee felt real, and, as best as I can tell, researched & respectful.

This is worth sticking with. At first I thought I might DNF (I do that more readily than most, though), then I thought it three-star read, and finally I settled on four.

Oppel sure does write a wide variety of books. I'm going to continue to *consider* everything, even though some I will skip or DNF. So far my favorite has been The Nest and the next Half Brother.
Profile Image for Rachel.
344 reviews11 followers
October 19, 2016
... I'm not really sure what the point is?

There are three things that make a book worth something - worth reader investment: character, plot, and theme. Perfect books have all three, but a lot of the time novels can get by so long as at least one is executed well.

This book doesn't have any of the above.

The characters aren't flawless, but they also never arc their way to anywhere interesting. They don't arc their way anywhere at all - aside from falling in love, there is no change. The plot only holds so much water, and it drags. It's just a dinosaur hunt, which should be exciting but isn't, here. Theme is nonexistent. There is no point to this book.

I suppose that seems harsh. It's not really a bad book, but I also can't really even call it average because average implies there were some redeeming qualities. I guess Rachel is refreshingly awkward and quiet and pragmatic? Sometimes?
Profile Image for Laura AP.
696 reviews
December 16, 2016
I loooooooved this book.
The POVs were both great, and I loved how Rachel and Sam interacted. I also love how the author wove in legend and paleonthology together in the book, and there wasn't a single moment where I was bored. When I got to the ending I was almost jumping out of my seat, because I couldn't wait until they found the actual skeleton.
Basically, my love of dinosaurs and paleonthology was very complete with this novel.
Profile Image for Rachel.
Author 5 books224 followers
August 19, 2016
Fast paced adventure. Strong characters, especially a strong female character. Fantastic historical setting, includes Native Americans with what seems like honest depictions. Note some content (including sexuality and violence).
Profile Image for Lara.
920 reviews
December 16, 2017
Amazing, as Kenneth Oppel always is 😍

"But out here in the ruins of the world, there were no buildings or rooms to separate or contain us. No bookish laws and rules to manacle us. It seemed ridiculous out here, all that stuff made of brick and timbers and paper and people's stale breath. Out here the rock had no rules and the hills had no laws and the vast sky was everywhere and watching, but didn't care one bit."
Profile Image for Evangeline.
410 reviews14 followers
July 3, 2018

BECAUSE THIS BOOK WAS ALMOST PERFECT. IT WAS SO CLOSE. They were in the desert, digging up dinosaurs while having a rivalry and falling in love, and I didn't hate the romance. *gasp*

BUT THEN: they had to go and have sexytimes. Which was just annoying. I lost all interest in the romance. It went from cute to blech.

But again, I loved the first 3/4ths with all my heart. The last 1/4th? ugh.
Profile Image for Marianne.
1,303 reviews30 followers
April 5, 2022
Interesting nerd romance set in an au of the 19th century bone wars. Dads of protags are terrible and sometimes abusive, moms of protags are long dead, protags are prickly and learn to be less horrible to indigenous ppl than their dad's are shown to be through reflection on error in a realistic thus very uncomfortable way. .. and yet somehow the whole still has the frothy happy nerd romance HEA vibe? I knew I liked Kenneth Oppel's writing but dang I'm still impressed.

CN: abusive parenting, violence, grave desecration, corpse desecration, abduction and torture, rank imperialism, snakes
Profile Image for Stephanie.
357 reviews19 followers
August 7, 2017
3.5? Maybe 4? It was a fairly quick read, and I did enjoy it, but there was something just not working for me (especially toward the end) and I just cannot put my finger on it. However, all the dino talk was A+++ and it warmed my fossilized, Jurassic-Park-loving heart.
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