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?
Kenneth Oppel is the author of numerous books for young readers. His award-winning Silverwing trilogy has sold over a million copies worldwide and been adapted as an animated TV series and stage play. Airborn won a Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award and the Canadian Governor General’s Literary Award for children’s literature; its sequel, Skybreaker, was a New York Times bestseller and was named Children’s Novel of the Year by the London Times. He is also the author of Half Brother, This Dark Endeavor, Such Wicked Intent, and The Boundless. Born on Canada’s Vancouver Island, he has lived in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Canada; in England and Ireland; and now resides in Toronto with his wife and children. Visit him at KennethOppel.ca.
I was so psyched about this book it was what I was looking for! I loved Romeo and Juliet and I. DIE HARD love Indiana Jones! Im an 80's kid Indiana Jones is my JAM!!
But this book just didn't get me. The characters just didn't work out at all and the dialogue was confusing. The characters felt flat and just didn't move the story along at all. They were one sided and not complex. The Insta-love was horrible! I generally don't care about it but this one just made it really really bad! The plot was really interesting but the execution just didn't work for me.
"All opinions are 100% honest and my own."
1. THE ELASMOSAURUS
I WOULDN’T SAY MY FATHER was a violent man, but he wasn’t afraid to talk with his fists. And I was glad of it. Because if he hadn’t belted Professor Cartland that night in the Academy of Natural Sciences, I wouldn’t have had the chance to see Rachel’s eyes up close.
When I first saw her in the lobby, I didn’t even know her name. She was just an ordinary-looking girl, dowdily dressed with all the flair of a cabbage moth. Her nose and jaw were too big to make her face delicate. Fair hair, quite fine, reddish tinged, parted severely in the middle and pulled back from her face.
She stood out because there were only two girls in the entire lobby—and the other one was Anne Atkinson. I’d glimpsed Anne several times before. She was the oldest young person I’d ever seen. Bowed and strangled in bonnet and lace. Rickety as the aging uncle she steadied during monthly meetings.
And then there was Rachel. I wondered who she’d come with. She left the crowded lobby, where people were talking before the lecture, and wandered into one of the galleries. Behind the giant Irish elk and prehistoric turtle was Hadrosaurus foulkii.
It was still an impressive brute, no matter how many times I’d seen it. Just sixteen years ago Joseph Leidy had dug it up. The first dinosaur skeleton unearthed from American soil. Mounted on its rear legs, it stood fourteen feet tall. Twenty-six feet long, head to tail. Forelimbs gripping a fake tree added for support. You could go and stand right underneath the rib cage.
She was staring at it intently, a vertical line between her eyebrows.
“Never seen it before?” I asked.
She only half turned, just enough to glimpse me, and then directed her gaze back to the hadrosaur.
Just no. “You’re not from here?”
Since it went up several years back, the hadrosaur had become such a popular attraction that the academy had cut back its visiting hours and started charging admission. I figured everyone in Philadelphia had seen it by now.
“We’re visiting from New Haven.”
“Ah.” She didn’t seem at all interested in me. Most girls were. I wondered if I smelled like the pickle I’d eaten with dinner. More likely she was just shy. I wanted her to turn and look at me properly. “Those aren’t the real bones,” I said.
“I know. They’re just plaster casts.”
I studied her anew. “How’d you know that?”
“I read an article.”
I looked around to make sure Professor Leidy wasn’t nearby. Whispered anyway. “They never found the skull, so they had to invent one.”
“They based it on an iguana.”
She was getting more intriguing by the second. And then she looked at me straight on for the first time. Her gaze was frank. No flirtatious lift of an eyebrow, no smile. I got the feeling she’d be just as happy without me. Happier maybe. For a moment I couldn’t think of anything to say. Unusual for me.
“That’s a very pretty hairpin,” I lied.
“No, it’s not.” She gave a little sigh, like she was disappointed in me.
I’d never met a girl reluctant to talk about her hair ornaments. I chuckled. For a second I thought she might too.
I added, “I just thought it was . . . unique in its . . .”
“It’s just a regular hairpin,” she said, touching it.
The tip of her left thumb and index finger were both stained with ink.
She saw my gaze and answered before I asked. “I draw my father’s specimens for him.”
Tonight, everyone crammed into this building was a naturalist of some sort. Probably her father was just another gentleman dabbler.
“He’s a collector?”
“Yes. And he’s quite exacting in his drawings.”
“You must be very skilled.”
There was no one who didn’t like being complimented, but she showed no sign of pleasure, only tilted her head slightly and said, “It’s very challenging. I hope to get better with more practice.”
“My father’s speaking tonight.”
She looked genuinely surprised. “You’re Michael Bolt’s son?”
I nodded at the large display case against the wall. “That’s his Laelaps aquilunguis in there.”
My father might not have been the first to discover a dinosaur in America, but he was the second. What he found was only a partial skeleton, but I’d memorized every bone: mandible; clavicles; both humeri; femur; tibia; fibula; phalanges; lumbar, sacral, and caudal vertebrae. The pieces were enough to let him guess its size and weight and eating habits. And win him the right to name it. Eagle-clawed terrible leaper. A carnivore, with a curved claw to do its slashing and killing.
“There’s talk of making a cast and mounting it one day,” I said.
She walked over and looked solemnly at the bones. Completely absorbed. I worried she might’ve forgotten me altogether.
“You seem very interested in dinosaurs,” I remarked.
Still not looking at me. “I am. I know more about snakes, though.”
“I keep several,” she told me.
I was delighted. “We have a tortoise at home. Horatio. He roams around. We also have a Gila monster.”
She turned to face me. “Does he roam around too?”
“She. No, we keep her in a vivarium. She likes raw eggs and getting her head scratched. She’s venomous, of course.”
I usually got a dainty squeal when I said this, but she simply nodded, wanting more.
“We have a fernery in our back room with tree frogs and salamanders. Our housekeeper complains. She keeps finding them in the sink.”
This time she actually smiled. “I adore salamanders.”
“Did you know they can regrow lost limbs?”
“Yes,” she said, which was a bit disappointing, since this was the one good thing I knew about salamanders.
“I know a fair bit about them,” she said. “Of course, there are over four hundred species, so there’s a great deal to know.”
We talked about salamanders. She got fairly animated, and I think I did too, because I liked this kind of talk, and it was rare to have with anyone my age—and never with a young woman. I’d never been more aware of a girl’s scent—not just the pleasant floral of soap, but the smell of her hair and heat of her skin. To my horror, I felt myself stiffening between my legs, and I silently counted backward from ten. Which usually worked, but didn’t now, so I imagined Mrs. Shaw, my former history teacher, which always worked.
It did, but slowly. To distract myself—and her, in case she looked down—I asked how she’d gotten interested in the natural sciences.
“I spent a lot of time looking into puddles,” she said.
That made me laugh. And then she told me how she got her first magnifying glass early on. I liked the way she talked, very direct and honest. For such a plain girl she was extraordinarily interesting. She asked me what sparked my scientific interests.
I shrugged. “I guess I had a knack with bones. No shortage in my house.”
“Your building blocks and jigsaw puzzles,” she said with another small smile.
“My father taught me their names. By six I could put a foot together. At eight I did a whole squirrel. Sometimes at parties he’d drag me out in front of everyone, give me a bunch of bones, and time me. Once I put together a raccoon in three minutes. I can put pretty much anything together.”
She said nothing, then abruptly, “Well, I look forward to your father’s lecture.”
“Maybe we’ll have a chance to talk afterward.”
“Excuse me,” she said, walking away, and I wondered if I smelled like pickle after all.
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