With a description hailing it as “Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones,” Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel had me at “hello.” So to speak.
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?
I may not be a huge R&J fan, but I AM a super fan when it comes to Indiana Jones. I mean, I do own an authentic replica Indiana Jones hat, for crying out loud. And a talking Indy doll. and the Indy Mr. Potato Head. And various other assorted Indy paraphernalia.
Basically, I really, really, really love Indiana Jones.
So when I saw the blurb for Every Hidden Thing that said “Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones,” I was already sold. But let’s be honest, with a blurb like that, my expectations were high.
So it’s a good thing Kenneth Oppel is such a fantastic writer, because I was not disappointed.
I adored this romantic tale of intrigue set during the golden age of American archaeology. Rachel and Samuel are adorably endearing, as they each fumble their way through assorted social awkwardness and cobble together a relationship that is grounded in realistic challenges, but romanticized by the time period, and the adventure of their archaeological pursuits.
I tend to think that the best books are the ones that transport you – to another place, another time, another something, and Every Hidden Thing succeeds in this regard in aces and spades. Oppel’s writing takes you back in time and to the heart of America, when we were still learning about dinosaurs and discovering new fossils on a regular basis. (Eat your heart out, Alan Grant.) There’s something romantic and nostalgic about this world – maybe even just harkening back to the kid inside all of us that really geeked out about dinosaurs.
Much like the “Black Beauty” that Rachel, Samuel, and their fathers are racing to find, Every Hidden Thing is a true gem. Unearth it yourself, in stores today.
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