Saturday, September 17, 2016

EVERY HIDDEN THING BY KENNETH OPPEL - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel. Thanks so much to HarperCollins for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review, as always, all opinions are my own.


This book is pitched as Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones. Going in, I was a little skeptical on how that would turn out, I mean, R&J doesn't really have the most hopeful ending and my knowledge of Indiana Jones is just whatever snippets of the movies I happened to watch as I walked past the living room if someone in my house just happened to be watching it. However, I will say, after finishing this book, I think these are accurate descriptions (although, spoiler alert: no one dies in this star crossed romance ;))

So I've marked this book as historical fiction, although I'm not sure how fitting it really is. It was a little bit hard to grasp the time of the novel, truthfully I thought it was present day, until we got to the part where the female main character wasn't allowed to go to university, and then things started clicking. They were taking a train cross-country, and instead of driving a car, they were in horse and buggy. It wasn't until they started naming some of the dinos they found that I really saw how far back in time they were; brontosaurus was just being discovered, as well as a gigantic "rex" (I'll let you figure that one out). Once I got the groove of the timeline, everything made more sense.

The story is told in three parts, with alternating perspectives from the two main characters, Rachel Cartland and Samuel Bolt. Both of their fathers are sworn enemies, for reasons no one has bothered to tell Rachel and Sam. Cartland despises Bolt for his lack of formal schooling in the subject of palaeontology, and Bolt resents Cartland for always finding a way to humiliate him, always in front of an audience. The tension between the fathers is palpable, at one point they have an all-out brawl on the stage of a convention, when Cartland suggests that Bolt has the fossil's anatomy backwards.

It is at this convention that Rachel and Sam meet, ripping their fighting fathers way from each other. Sam is immediately smitten, but Rachel is more reserved. Both leave assuming they will never see each other again, especially if their fathers have anything to do with it. However, when they both get wind of a monstrous fossil in the North, they end up taking the same train, and journeying to the badlands together. What starts out as a spy mission for their fathers turns into a friendship, and then perhaps something more. I didn't find it too insta-lovey, but it definitely had a rushed feel towards the end. But most of that was situational. If they were courting in the 'real' world, and not out in the badlands, things would have been different. As well, if their fathers liked each other more, they wouldn't have to hid their meetings, adding a extra bit of exhilaration to the relationship.

The writing of this book was spot-on, I was enthralled in the adventure. There was a real sense of urgency to complete the mission, or at least find what they were looking for, because the Sioux Natives were coming to stop them. Cartland did some unspeakable things to their ancestor's graves and, understandably, they were not pleased. The pacing was wonderful, slow when it needed to be, and heart-racing when things were tense.

There were a couple awkward moments, physically, between Rachel and Sam. I thought they were a little out of place, and I feel because this book does feel like it would carter to middle grade as well as YA, so I'm not sure why that was thrown in there but...

For those of you reading this wondering if it is going to be too science-y or too dinosaur-y, don't worry, it's not. I'm not super into the whole dino thing, but I still really enjoyed this one. There was some Native folklore in there too, which added to the experience.

I also liked the ending. I don't want to spoil anything, but something happens to Sam, and I was concerned things were going to take a R&J turn. I was definitely surprised when things didn't and it wasn't cliche. I liked how he acknowledged the possibility, especially with what happened in R&J, but didn't follow that same path. The ending of R&J is probably the most annoying thing about the play, and I'm glad Oppel recognized it and didn't fall down that trap.

I am only giving this book 4/5 stars because I found that the romance, while plausible, felt a little forced sometimes, especially after the falling out with the fathers. I thought it was a bit rushed, things maybe would have progressed there later on in life, but not right away.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and highly recommend it, whether you like dinos or not!