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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Every Hidden Thing* by Kenneth Oppel- young adult book review
Every Hidden Thing
by Kenneth Oppel
Grades 9+ 368 pages Simon and Schuster October 2017 Paperback    

What “hidden thing” do the Bolts and the Cartlands find in the vast Badlands of the American West? It is the late 19th century, and the two dinosaur-hunting families have competed for years. However, things are different this time. Seventeen-year-old Samuel Bolt has just met beautiful Rachel Cartland. Despite the animosity between their fathers, the two young people are attracted to each other. “With absolute certainty, I knew I’d fall in love with her.” (p. 19) They soon discover that both fathers are on the trail of a king dinosaur called the Black Beauty, or the “rex.” When the two young lovers end up in the desolate and isolated Badlands, they are very happy. Love thrives in unlikely places!

This well-written novel will thrill both male and female readers with its fast-paced narrative about two young lovers facing difficult circumstances while hunting for elusive hidden dinosaur bones. Samuel and Rachel have both been raised without their mothers. Samuel manages to become a partner in his father’s quest for the massive dinosaur skeleton by tricking his father into letting him come along on the hunt. Rachel, who is hampered by the sexist expectations of her father that she will be content with marriage and a family, must resort to getting thrown out of her aunt’s home before her father agrees to take her with him on his search.

Oppel does not shy away from controversy. Shifting between Samuel and Rachel’s point of view, this forbidden love story has definite parallels to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and the Broadway play West Side Story. There is secret love, teenage marriage and sex in this book. Its connections to archeology and paleontology will remind readers of the Indiana Jones movies. There are bitter rivalries between the two widowed fathers who do morally questionable things to claim credit for hidden dinosaur skeletons. The local Pawnee and Sioux tribes of the American West play a major role in this novel. The novel begins with the discovery of the bones by a young warrior. The aboriginal characters in this novel are violent, ruthless and sympathetic; however, the actions of the so-called “educated” archaeologists are reprehensible and very controversial.

Kenneth Oppel is an award-winning writer for young readers. He was born on Vancouver Island in the Canadian province of British Columbia and currently lives in Toronto. His bestselling Silverwing trilogy was adapted into an animated series. He has won several awards including: the Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award, Canadian Governor General’s Literary Award for Children’s Literature for Airborn, and the Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year for Children Award for Half Brother. His recent books include This Dark Endeavour, Such Wicked Intent and The Boundless. Oppel’s newest book, Every Hidden Thing, is a rare combination of family feuds, science, adventure, history and romance. Readers of all ages will be enchanted!

Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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