Review: Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

Posted October 13, 2016 by Lily B in Reviews / 33 Comments

Review:  Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth OppelEvery Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel
Series: Stand-alone
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on October 11th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The hunt for a dinosaur skeleton buried in the Badlands, bitter rivalries, and a forbidden romance come together in this beautifully written new novel that’s Romeo and Juliet meets Indiana Jones.
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. 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?

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.

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33 responses to “Review: Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

  1. I’ve never heard of this one before but got intrigued by the blurb. Sorry to hear it didn’t work for you! I think I’ll have the same issues as you too so I’ll probably just steer clear.

  2. Your reasons for not liking this story would make me not like it if I read it. If the characters don’t work for you then the tory is somewhat doomed.

  3. Sorry you didn’t enjoy this one! I hadn’t heard of it yet, and the blurb sounded intriguing, but I don’t think I’ll be picking this up. Unlikeable characters and instalove does not sound like something I’d enjoy. Thanks for the review!

  4. Oh no! That’s definitely too bad this book didn’t work out for you. Because it sounded like it had a lot of potential ): I hate it when the romance is crappy! Hope your next read is better!

  5. Your first paragraph made it sounds pretty interesting, so I am sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy the book :(. The dinosaurs and the plot line do sound good, but I can definitely see why you didn’t enjoy this one. It’s hard to enjoy a book when you can’t stand the characters and don’t feel the romance. And then the whole marriage plot line sounds weird too. Great review and I hope your next read will be better!

  6. Well, I can say it was honest in it’s depiction of what people did to the Native Americans at that time and how they didn’t see themselves as savage. However, I don’t think I could stomach it either and I do think I’d probably stop there. Sorry this one isn’t for you, but brilly review and it tells me it isn’t for me either.

  7. Yeah, not liking the characters in the book would definitely affect your reading enjoyment of it. The badlands and dinosaur combinations sound really interesting but the characters and romance definitely detract from the experience! Lovely review!

  8. I’m never really a fan of historical stories and as I can see the stars above, I don’t think I’ll go for it any time soon. But overall, this is an awesome review Lily 🙂

  9. I can see why this didn’t work out for you. I could maybe tolerate characters I don’t necessarily like, but combine that with a bad romance and the book is basically dead for me. I hope what you’re reading right now is wayyy better.

  10. I’m sorry that you weren’t able to enjoy this book Lily, it really did seem like it had a lot of potential, but when I can’t get behind the main characters, then the book can be a real struggle for me, so I can understand some of the issues that you had! Thank you for the honest review! 🙂

  11. I hate writing negative reviews, too, but sometimes it has to be done. This doesn’t sound like anything I’d enjoy. I’m not one for Romeo and Juliet type stories to begin with, but this sounds awful with unlikeable characters. Sex scenes with farts and arm pit hair? Umm, what? Sorry hear this was a dud. Hope the next book is awesome! Great honest review! 🙂

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