Family Reads: Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

Born out of a desire to get a family of book lovers to connect more over what they’re reading, Family Reads is an occasional feature where my mom, dad or sister and I read and discuss a book.

Dad and Jenna read Every Hidden Thing

Why we chose Kenneth Oppel’s Every Hidden Thing

I had planned to attend Oppel’s talk, reading and signing at McNally Robinson at the end of September. As a Canadian growing up in the late 90s/early 00s, I devoured the Silverwing books. Recently I’ve enjoyed The Boundless and The Nest. Dad had accompanied me to a few other author events at McNally (Chris Hadfield and Will Ferguson come to mind), so I invited him along. Dad thought it would be neat to read the book after hearing Oppel give a presentation about it. I felt iffy about Every Hidden Thing (which has been described as Romeo and Juliet meets Indian Jones), but I decided to give it a go because I was curious to see what Oppel would do with dinosaurs and YA fiction.

Our Discussion

We used Every Hidden Thing as a jumping off point to discuss young adult literature. First, we tried to determine whether Dad had ever read YA literature. He recalls reading The Hardy Boys, The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia, which don’t quite make the cut.  I asked if he may have read The Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, or The Outsiders (all of which were not considered ‘YA lit’ back when they were first published but are today popularly read among teens). He couldn’t recall, but he noted that there was no Goodreads back in the seventies, so it’s hard for him to keep track 😛

I asked Dad what he liked about Every Hidden Thing, considering it was a ‘genre’ (more on that later) new to him. He appreciated the novel because he found it a light read – in general, not necessarily because it was YA. We agreed that the story moved at a good pace and had some surprises. The shifting perspectives occasionally tripped both of us up. We had to reread some paragraphs once we realized the narrator was not who we thought (this despite the change in fonts!). Overall, though, the two perspectives kept the narrative interesting without being too distracting.  I appreciated knowing ahead of time that Oppel was riffing off Romeo and Juliet, so I was prepared for the teen romance that’s central to the novel. (I am not a big fan of romance.) Dad liked the contrast between Sam and Rachel’s relationship and their fathers.

Dad and I agreed that the dinosaur fossil hunting was what really sold us on this book. Oppel gave a great presentation about his research process for Every Hidden Thing. You can read about how he wrote it in this article  from the CBC.

Finally, I asked Dad if he thought he might like to read more from the YA genre. He questioned whether YA is really a genre, and not just a marketing recommendation. We discussed some of the debate surrounding the use of a YA as a genre term rather than a general audience target. Dad says he would assume YA novels are an easier read than some of the adult fiction he reads, but he wouldn’t oppose reading a YA novel if it sounded interesting. He appreciated that he could read Every Hidden Thing in small pieces during his workweek and still be able to keep track of the characters and the plot.

I think most of my readers have grown up reading young adult literature. What books would you recommend for someone new to the ‘genre’? Have you read any novels about the discovery of dinosaurs?

October Month in Review

October Month in Review bannerI started last month’s post with a comment about how I updated less frequently than my ideal. Once again I’ve fallen short of my post goal, but this time around I was anticipating that. Between NerdCon, Comic-con, and an unexpected but appreciated increase in my work load, I didn’t make a lot of time for blogging. I dislike not having a regular schedule. I crave predictability, but my work schedule currently doesn’t have that feature. As blogging is an independent hobby, it’s the first to thing to go when I’m on a time crunch. Over the past couple years, I’ve been working out how to balance my spare time between reading and blogging about reading. Although I didn’t find the time for blogging in October, I did manage to squeeze in lots of reading, so without further ado, here are the books I read in October:

Books Finished

  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  • My Life with the Liars by Caela Carter
  • Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm
  • All Rise for the Honourable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
  • OCDaniel by Wesley King
  • The Witches of New York by Ami McKay
  • Slacker by Gordon Korman
  • When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin

Books Reviewed

Features

  • I’m a round one judge for the Cybils. Here’s my post introducing the awards and what my role is.
  • Part 3 of my New Zealand literary pilgrimage series explores a variety of filming locations around Queenstown.
  • I attempt to describe why NerdCon deserves another shot in my post “Why I Loved NerdCon: Stories“.
  • For the October KidLit Blog Hop, I wrote about the books I’d read so far for the Cybils.
  • The fall edition of Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon took place on October 22. Here’s my master post.

Shared on Twitter

Upcoming in November

  • Oct. 31 to Nov. 6 Witch Week (“an opportunity to celebrate our favorite fantasy books and authors”) @ The Emerald City Book Review.
  • Nov. 10 An Evening with Ami McKay @ McNally Robinson. I finished McKay’s new novel The Witches of New York during last month’s Read-a-thon. Highly recommended! I will have a review up tomorrow.
  • Nov. 29 – Publication of Scythe by Neal Shusterman, a YA ‘dystopia’ in which “the only way to die is to be randomly killed (“gleaned”) by professional reapers (“scythes”). I adore Shusterman. Scythe sounds like an excellent follow to the Unwind books.

Now that I’ve finally posted on my own blog, I’ve got a lot of commenting to do. I have 40-some blog posts saved in Pocket that I want to check out. Then we’ll see how far ahead I can get with scheduling some posts. This weekend is shaping up to be a ‘catch up’ weekend for me. How was your October? What are you looking forward to in November?

Jenna's signature