Rome, A.D. 306. Emperor Constantine converts the Roman Empire to Christianity. Over the next two decades, his armies destroy pagan idols across Europe and the Middle East.
England, A.D. 1830. Paleontologist Mary Anning writes to Sir Richard Owen, describing a fossil that she discovered in the cliffs of Lyme-Regis. She writes that the fossil is a large wing made of black bone.
Montana, A.D. 2022. Sixteen-year-old Molly Wilder discovers a mysterious fossil while on a summer internship. The fossil has a large wing structure, horned skull, and black bones. Neither famed fossil-hunter Derek Farnsworth nor renowned paleontologist Dr. Sean Oliphant can place it in a recognized dinosaur family.
For 65 million years, the Badlands of Montana have held a secret hidden in their depths...
The Bone Wars was written by Erin S. Evan. It’s due to be published on April 11, 2023 and is 300 pages. Evan spent her childhood summers in Montana digging fossils. As an adult, she has worked in the field and in environmental and non-profit sectors. The Bones Wars is her first novel. Thanks to Inkshares for providing me with an advance reader copy for review.
Sixteen-year-old Molly Wilder is on the adventure of her dreams. She is on her way to Montana to be an intern at a paleontology dig. She knows her stuff, has a bit of experience, and earned her way by winning a contest. Little does she know that the internship may be the most boring part of her summer as she is about to discover a fossil like few have seen which will trigger a chain reaction that no one could predict. The fossil has a horned skull, black bones, and a huge wingspan. It’s not anything that the experienced paleontologist recognizes, and Molly is convinced, to the amusement of others, that it’s a dragon.
Molly and the others don’t know that similar fossils were found back in the 1830s. They were kept secret…..something that others might still be motivated to do with Molly’s discovery today……
This is a somewhat complex book told from multiple points of view and jumping through multiple timelines. It’s an intriguing story and the kickoff of a series. Evan clearly knows her stuff as it pertains to dinosaurs and paleontology though I did cringe at some of the handling of delicate historical artifacts. It’s a whirlwind of activity spanning from Montana to several international destinations. There are secrets revealed and secret organizations afoot. If you are into (really into) dinosaurs, you will like this book.
The book is clearly a young adult novel. One that may not cross over to large adult audiences like Harry Potter, but that could be successful with teens. Its characters are somewhat flat and stereotypical vs layered or developed though perhaps that’s left for future books in the series. The book kind of struggles to pick an audience. The writing from Molly’s point of view will likely appeal to the YA audience. I’m not sure the point of view of the middle-aged scientist will appeal to them quite as much.
It's a solid book, especially for a first novel. I will look forward to the next book in the series.
Do you like dinosaurs? Dragons? Secret Organizations? World Travel? Secrets and twists? Are you within the Young Adult target audience? Then you will likely enjoy The Bone wars.
I can't take it anymore....dnf @ 60% This was nothing but a torture for me, I really had a hard time reading this one. The writing was extremely bad, the plot was baseless and the characters were fucking annoying. It was a literal headache.
Erin Evan is a gifted story-teller, but an inexperienced novelist. In The Bone Wars she has written a good book. It could be better, and I am confident that her future books will be.
The Bone Wars is principally about four paleontologists, grad student Sarah Connell, her PhD advisor Sean Oliphant, her mentor Derek Farnsworth, and teenage intern Molly Wilder. The story is told in the first person by these four characters, but Molly is the central character.
The first thing I loved about The Bone Wars was its feeling of authenticity. Evan is herself a fossil-hunter. Even if no one told you this, you would recognize it. I was captivated by Molly's account of a long day spent lying on her side, working patiently to free a fossil femur from the rock in which it is embedded. If you have ever done research, you will recognize the peculiar combination of tedium and excitement that accompanies most research. I would have called it indescribable, had not Evan described it.
The second thing I loved about The Bone Wars was Molly. I recognized her. Molly is the kind of student every scientist wants to have on the team: intelligent, curious, full of fire and passion, eager to plunge ahead to whatever it takes to reveal truth. Molly will listen to you if you have something valuable to say, but she has no time for your BS.
The Bone Wars suffers from a couple minor faults. 1. Exposition. Readers of The Bone Wars can't help but feel that they are frequently on the receiving end of an infodump. 2. Dr Sean Oliphant. It feels like I have met Oliphant in dozens of other fictionalized descriptions of scientists. He feels like he was taken directly from the Catalog of Stock Fictional Scientist Stereotypes and plugged in here, and he is tiresome. Sean is not a person I would, given virtually any alternative, choose to spend time with. In fact, I think Evan more or less agrees, because toward the end of the book Oliphant's character develops some fire and heart. Unfortunately, the reader has had to endure Tiresome Sean for 80% of the book before he begins to become interesting.
I thank Inkshares and NetGalley for an Advance Reader Copy. This review expresses my honest opinions.
First of all, thank you NetGalley and Inkshares for providing an arc of the book. This book was released on 11th April 2023.
The narrative begins with Molly, our precocious protagonist, signing up for a summer dig in Montana to learn more about dinosaurs and, ideally, impress Sarah, her employer, who is a graduate student. A brief walk into a cave to escape a storm results in the discovery of what may be a new species. This finding swiftly develops into a worldwide quest that ends in Japan. Intriguing discoveries are discovered along the journey, and there’s just enough risk to keep things interesting.
I liked how this narrative blended well-known mythological animals with contemporary life, subtly pointing to us that while what we now know about the planet and its ecosystem is probably real, there is probably much more that we don’t know. Additionally, it demonstrates that there is more to individuals than meets the eye and that people are not always as they appear. The author does a great job of fusing myth and reality. I like all the historical information and facts about paleontology that were woven throughout the novel; they made the fictional portions flow well.
Even if you may love dinosaurs and want to learn more about them and the field of paleontology, this book is not strongly advised for those who do not. I have always been a fan of dinosaurs, so I was pleased to learn some archaeology and dinosaur information in the first section of this book. I’ve always been fascinated with dinosaurs, so I was glad to discover some information about them and archaeology in the first section of this book. However, I wish the intriguing details and engaging narration persisted throughout the entire book. In conclusion, I’d suggest reading The Bone Wars if you’re a fan of dinosaurs, want to learn more about them, and want a good mystery. Since dinosaurs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, I doubt you’ll like this book as much. I did think the unexpected ending wasn’t all that satisfactory, and I found it difficult to relate to the characters.
"the bone wars" could be effectively summarized as a wishy-washy conspiracy theory
its been a while since i have landed myself into such a hot mess. all the stars for the first part (about 75-ish pages) and the first part only. though some of the trivia was pretty cool. but trust me even as a nerd i couldn't interest myself in all the information the author was blatantly throwing my way like yay for paleontology and dinosaurs but there's a lot of random stuff in here (that too in the same book where it is highlighted some of the characters don't know GOT and Hercule Poirot).
PS - i really really wanted to like this and im kinda sad i didn't.
i was provided an arc of this book via netgalley in exchange for a honest review. thank you to the publisher, the author and netgalley. all thoughts are my own.
the summery for this book was incredibly fascinating. unfortunately, i didn't enjoy the execution. before i get into what didn't work for me, i would probably recommend this to someone who has an intense interest in dinosaurs and paleontology. i still have my other problems, but maybe it'd work better there.
i like both of those topics, but not to the extent needed for this to work for me.
the first quarter of the book was really rough. the author has actual experience in digs and a degree in geology, and you can tell. but unfortunately it felt too... dry, to be frank. the beginning felt too technical. it gets more normal once you get past that point, but there was something really off about how the writing felt in the introduction.
my other big issue was the characters. i already knew i'd have some doubts about molly because she's only sixteen, but i spent a huge part wondering what set her apart so much that she'd earn an internship at a dig so young, and i don't think i was ever convinced. and when we moved past that to other situations, she was also a lot of the times the only one putting stuff together which - just not realistic. the group was made up from top-of-their-field scientists, but it was the 16 year old teenager connecting the dots. the characterizations also felt a bit all over the place with... all of them, to be honest. and lastly, there was one character who barely got any page-time (despite being present for all of it, but they were never the focus) before suddenly becoming extremely important and doing something crucial for the plot. it just didn't have much impact.
there were other smaller stuff that bothered me (there were one too many times where the characters just stumbled across the stuff rather than figure things out themselves; little depth in certain topics; the actual roles being stated which was a bit... baffling), but the plot idea is good. i think that's what was mainly frustrating with this read. i very very much like the idea behind it.
i just didn't enjoy half of the characters, and the other half felt very shaky in their characterizations. this could have been good, and i wanted to like it so badly, but unfortunately it didn't work for me.
Big oof. I had to binge this just because it was so annoying. If I had tried to take my time, I knew I would never have actually finished.
This book is trying to be some kind of YA Jurassic Park Da Vinci Code adventure. It succeeds in kind of being The 39 Clues, but without the fun gimmicks.
It has all the emotional depth of The 39 Clues as well; the only aspect that makes it more YA than Young Reader is that no kid would be willing to sit through so many regurgitated Wikipedia pages on fossils. The character work also reminds me of The 39 Clues, in that every person is given only one (1) personality trait and just runs with it as hard as possible.
There's dinosaur bones and evil secret societies and good secret societies, traveling all over Europe to desecrate museums in search of secret codes, a decent amount of repetitive yelling at each other, Molly knowing way more than every adult about every single imaginable topic, etc. The motivations and interactions get a little deeper near the end, but by that point I couldn't bring myself to care.
I wish I liked this as much as I thought I would, but I DNFed it at 40%.
The story felt shallow and slow, and the characters didn’t have much depth.
I loved dinosaurs for a long time, and I was happy to learn some facts about them and archaeology in the first chunk of this book; I wish the interesting aspects and storytelling continued throughout the novel.
I do wish this author the best, the plot is great, the writing just needs to do it justice.
Many thanks to NetGalley for a copy of The Bone Wars in exchange for an honest review.
Overall the story here has good “bones”, haha, but the delivery of it was a bit of a struggle to get through, especially at first, as the intro chapters have a lot of info dumping about dinosaurs, which I felt got in the way of the story getting started. If I hadn’t promised a review on this, I would have stopped reading out of the gate.
Things did eventually pick up and I loved the dragon hints and drops from Molly, even though her character and the things that seemingly just happened to her were far fetched.
While I loved the idea behind this one, it felt like there was a lot of telling vs. showing. I struggled with the shifting point of views from all of the characters in each chapter, which were told in first person, because it was hard to remember who was who. The voices were similar for each. And even though told in first person, I felt like I never really got to know any of the characters. Things were surface level.
More than likely won’t be continuing with the series here, but glad I gave this one a shot beyond the instant urge to put it down! There’s potential and hopefully the books get better as the series progresses.
Thanks to Net Galley for the Advanced Reader Copy. I was surprised that the book didn't recieve more higher starred reviews, I do agree with many of the lower star reviews, but honestly despite some of the flaws (flat characters, unclear narrator and convenient plot twists) I still found this quite enjoyable. maybe because I have been reading some very heavy reading at the same time. I think many people will enjoy this book. Let me start by saying, I really enjoyed this book! It was a quick easy read, with lots of action/adventure/speed. I appreciated that the author didn't dwell on too many overly long descriptive scenes to "set the mood" Essentially, the story starts with our protagonist, a precocious teen, Molly joining a summer dig in Montana, expecting to learn more about dinosaurs and hopefully impress her boss- a grad student, Sarah. A quick trip into a cave to avoid a storm leads to the discovery of a possible new species, which quickly escalates into a search across several countries, ending in Japan. Along the way, interesting discoveries are made, with just a hint of danger to keep it exciting. I enjoyed how this story mixes beloved mythical creatures with the modern world, emphasizing quietly that what we know is true, but there is likely more that we don't know about our world and environment. In addition, it shows that people indeed are not always as they present, and that there is more than just what is seen on the surface. A few things that made this- less enjoyable for me- there is frequent switching of narrators without a very clear identification as to who is now narrating. I enjoyed the different points of view and thought processes but didn't like having to often go back and re-read to figure out who was now narrating. Beyond this, the characters, even the one who ends up being the rouge character are compelling as individuals, and even though not a lot of writing is spent in character development, and the characters are a little bit "flat" and not super well fleshed out, I still found them believable. The book seems poised for a part 2, so I am hopeful that this is in the works!
No! Why did this book end so quickly. On a serious, THIS-BEST-PART-IS-GOING-TO-BE-FANTASTIC note!! 😭
For some reason, when I applied for this ARC I thought it was some sort of thriller. To my surprise, it turned out to be a Young Adult novel encompassing some mystery and a little fantasy.
The book starts out being narrated by a 16 year old girl who knew from the age of four, that she loved to dig. This, of course, led to her interest in paleontology - the study of fossils. With already two years of field work under her belt, she applied for an internship which she won and was sent to Glasgow, Kentucky, to work with paleontologist in the field, who had, too, won this award. They start digging and the paleontologist, Sarah, shows her Tyrannosaurus vertebrae she found along with a fantastic tooth that belonged to an unknown species It was different to any other fossil tooth ever found.
The girl then stumbles across a large fossilized skeleton in a cave, something even bigger than the biggest land walking apex predator on earth. When a government agency swoops in on confiscates all evidence.
Sarah and her team set off to figured out what it is that they are trying to hide by destroying this new species. And the journey leads them down a magnificent path.
This book had so many twists and turns, it was constantly interesting and taught me so much history of real paleontology - a field I have always loved myself. I love how the author was so dedicated to creating a full back story that included real great historical legends in the scientific world.
I also loved the author's style of writing. It flowed beautifully and I could not put the book down.
This book was FANTASTIC and I cannot wait for the sequel!!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Dragons existed, and we have scientists and fossil hunters dealing with crazy people who want to keep that fact hidden away.
It took me some time to get into this because it's not a genre I'd normally read, and well, there is something off about how it's written. The characters are really badly put together, and I can't stand any of them; I was okay with the order killing them. For example, Molly herself is insane as a character; a weird testament to how you need crazy job experience just for an internship; but also she's 16 and should really not be traveling with weird strangers like this. She also knew more than all the adults in the room all the time, which made this read like a YA book instead of an adult fiction book. All the other cliches, like the villain's reasons, also took this a notch down; and I didn't understand Sara's reasoning at all.
However, the idea behind the book isn't bad. It draws on the fact that almost every culture in the world has a dragon myth', and so there has to be something to that idea. The author also includes some great facts and figures one can look up and really immerse themselves in the world, but most things are explained to keep the reader going and not having to take a break to look up a bunch of things. This is the sort of book that would make a great movie, that I would 100% watch, but I wouldn't recommend as a read. But this does seem to be a debut novel, which is why I'll give a sequel a shot because the plot isn't actually bad and I'd like to see if the ending the author has in mind is any good.
Thank you NetGalley for a chance to read and review this!
I was provided with an ARC of The Bone Wars by Erin Evan via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the publisher, the author, and NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book!
First and foremost, I LOVED this book. If you are a fan of dinosaurs, fun facts, and adventure this book is for you!
The book follows a girl named Molly who finds herself heading to the Hell Creek Formation to dig up fossils for a summer after winning an internship. If that isn’t cool enough, she makes a groundbreaking discovery that sends her, and the other paleontologists she is working with, on an epic adventure far from their dusty dig site in Montana.
The author does a fantastic job of melding fact with myth. I loved all of the paleontology facts and history throughout the book and it really helped to work the fictional elements in nicely.
Throughout the book the point of view switches between Molly and the other paleontologists she is traveling with. The change in view helped get a more well-rounded picture of events; however, it would have been nice to get a bit more perspective from the opposing force working against them as the story went on.
Overall, 10/10 will read again. I really hope the author is working on a second book in the series. I can’t wait to read it and see what comes next!
I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
The Bone Wars both had some good moments and some downsides, in my opinion. While this may be a great book if you love dinosaurs and would love to learn more about them and the world of paleontology, it’s not a highly recommended read if you don’t.
Sixteen-year-old Molly Wilder is excited to start her summer internship in Montana, digging up fossils. By accident, Molly discovers a fossil that has a large wing structure, horned skull, and black bones. Nothing that has ever been seen before in dinosaurs. As such, neither her supervisor, Sarah, fossil hunter Derek Farnsworth, nor Dr. Sean Oliphant can place it.
But Molly knows what it is: a dragon.
Just how revolutionary this discovery is, becomes apparent when the BLM drops by and takes away all of their work. But are they really the BLM? And what are they trying to prevent to keep from the world? Are certain fossils truly worth killing for?
The story itself starts out a bit slow. It takes some time before Molly finds the fossil. But after that, the pace does pick up.
I did enjoy the hunt for clues, the mystery, and the puzzle. I’m always in for figuring out riddles.
The biggest let-down, for me, was the ending. The twist was just not quite believable. While I can see where the author had tried to set it up, it doesn’t come across strongly enough. The motivations just fell short, in my opinion.
In addition, the story was written in 1st person, from different character POVs. However, it was very difficult to distinguish between these POVs. It often took me half the page or more to figure out who the “I” was in this chapter.
The voices just weren’t quite distinctive enough, which leads to some confusion at the beginning of each chapter.
Molly is, as far as I could tell, the main character. I didn’t count, but I think most chapters were from her POV.
As it happens, I also had the most trouble identifying with her POV. While this might be because I’m an adult, not a teenager, I think it has more to do with her inconsistencies. She acts like a teenager, so that felt natural, but then she’s also often smarter, somehow, than the adults. And she’s not very respectful toward the adults most of the time, either. I found this difficult to believe, especially since she’s such a fan of Dr. Oliphant at first. And yet, she has no trouble talking back to him.
Additionally, she often, very conveniently, had a certain skill that was necessary. E.g., she was a fan of a certain author, knew a certain language, read a particular book… and so on. While I suppose this is possible, it felt more convenient because of the order the author chose to reveal this information. I think if Molly’s skills were set up a bit sooner instead of given at the moment of necessity or after, it would’ve felt more believable.
As for the other characters, I’m afraid I have to say I couldn’t quite identify with them either. I think the one who had the most personality was Dr. Oliphant. Likely because he has the largest ego of the group. So, he was the easiest to identify (although he wasn’t particularly a likable character).
So, as far as characters go, the book was somewhat of a let-down, for me.
The worldbuilding was a real strength of the book. I admit the amount of detail was a bit much, for me, because I’m not that into dinosaurs. But, if you are, then I’m sure you’ll appreciate the information given in the book.
It was clear that there was a huge amount of research that went into it, and I love how the author tried to weave in the fantastical with reality. It made the story more believable that way.
And, even better, if you want to know more about the things you read in the book, the author gives plenty of resources at the end of the book.
To conclude this book review of The Bone Wars, I’d recommend the book if you really love dinosaurs, would love to learn more about them and enjoy some mystery. Honestly, if dinosaurs aren’t really your thing, I don’t think you’ll enjoy this book as much. I did feel it had a not-so-satisfying twist ending, and I couldn’t quite connect with the characters.
this book is kind of a hot mess. I would describe it as half info-dumping and half Indiana Jones style fantastical adventure/mystery. The characters were often annoying and written in a young way that made it hard to believe these were adults at the forefront of their fields. I also had a hard time suspending my disbelief for most of Molly’s surprise knowledge and connections; whiz-kid know it all teen characters just never do it for me.
A lot of the mystery elements were also told to the reader, and often repetitively, instead of just letting us figure it out.
The surprise twist was somehow both predictable and inexplicable. The explanation really didn’t do anything to make it make more sense, and I think that definitely cheapened the story and the character.
I’m a big dinosaur fan, but this sometimes read like a textbook. I have story notes from years and years ago about grad students that dig up dragons and it was interesting to read someone else’s take on that concept. The bits with the Order and S.V. were definitely a lot and I’m not sure how I feel about the sort-of cliffhanger ending.
I think Sean and Derek’s relationship was definitely the most interesting, although I felt myself strongly wishing there was some layer of scorned lover to make it that much stronger. Derek and Sarah’s relationship kind of felt like it came out of left field in its depth at the end.
Overall, I hope there’s some changes before the final version, but I’d probably pick up a used copy, and I’d probably give any potential sequel a chance.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for an advance review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Out April 11, 2023.
Ah, I’m having a hard time with this one. I really wanted to love this Indiana Jones/Da Vinci Code romp with dinosaurs and dragons. But (and I say this knowing how dumb this sounds when you include the fact that there are mythological creatures in this story) it was so unbelievable.
We have a main character who (at 16 years old) has gotten a grant to work at a dig site in Montana. She immediately discovers the fossil of a dragon and starts a huge adventure with a grad student, professor of archaeology and a commercial fossil and dinosaur hunter.
Somehow our main character, Molly, outsmarts all of these more seasoned intellectuals and constantly has to explain certain myths and latin to them. She’s all, I can translate latin because of “a couple of high school credits and my top notch brain.” Not to mention the fact that she just travels on international flights with a bunch of strangers? Bizarre.
We get 4 POV in this book but it might as well all be one, because their voices are so similar even though they are MUCH different characters. I found it difficult to remember who was speaking.
Ultimately, I wouldn’t recommend this. I will say, the research was well done and I enjoyed the parts that were included about Richard Owen and Mary Anning. It just wasn’t enough to mitigate the writing. It was a slog to get through and doesn’t offer us anything new in the genre.
Sixteen-year-old Molly has been fascinated by Palaeontology since she was four so, when she wins a chance to take part in a real dig, she is thrilled. The dig is going fine, no surprises, when Molly.gets a chance to tr out the new drone. However, when a wind rises and blows it out of sight, she scrambles to find it. However, as she tries to climb a hill marked with loose dirt and sand, she slips and is unable to prevent her fall to the bottom. When she finally stops, she finds herself in front of a cave . Her curiosit overcomes her sense of caution and she decides to explore. What she finds there is like nothing she or, perhaps anybody, has seen before, a discovery that could completely turn the world of Paleonology upside down.
Blend the science of Paleontology with cryptozoology, throw in petty academic jealousies, a coming-of-age story, and a group of fanatical anti-science conspiracists and you have The Bone Wars by Erin Evan. For the most part, I quite enjoyed the book but I love fiction that references real science especially Paleontology and I liked the mystery.
I did, however, have some problems with the novel. It tended to drag in places and, when it did, it seemed to have trouble getting back on track. & as much as I liked the character of Molly, she seemed too often to be more aware of the science than the actual scientists.The book was alos told in first voice, switching between the various characters which tended to be confusing until t got to know the characters as the story progressed. Still, overall, I enjoyed the story despite these faults enough to want to know where it goes next.
Thanks to Netgalley and Inkshares for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review
Excellent debut for Erin Evan. Fast paced novel (like a Dan Brown book) that has an educational element (had no idea dinosaurs were around by that large of a magnitude compared to human existence), and a fun cast of characters (Farnsworth is my dude).
This will be a great movie someday and I look forward to reading book 2 someday!
Thanks to NetGalley for provding the arc for an honest review! Unfortunately I did not enjoy this book as i expected to, the synopsis had me interested but sadly I don't think the writing style was for me. I'm sure anyone really interested in paleontology or academia will appreciate this more but sadly I did not dig it.
I just didn't enjoy most of the characters and the plot was quite slow. Really interesting concept but wasn't a fan of the story itself.
the whole time i was reading this book, as dissatisfied as i was sometimes with the pacing, the language and the characterisation, i thought to myself how much 12 year old me would devour this book and would rate it 6 stars out of 5. 12 year old me didn't care for any of the literary devices that a decade on from that i care about now. all she cared about was secret societies and intrigue and having a protagonist that she could relate to even when it was completely implausible that a young girl would be involved in a conspiracy like that.
i think that is the book's strength. i think it is something that almost teenagers who are a little bit precocious will love to read, because while it has this overarching conspiracy and a brilliant touch of supernatural magicness, it infodumps real facts about dinosaurs the whole way through as well.
the only thing that i think doesn't work for younger readers is the POV changes. it changes a lot between the main characters, and does so inconsistently, but never really establishes distinct voices between sean and derek, with the two of them blending into one voice in some parts. i think this book would have worked a little better if it was just from molly's POV, because she is the character who young readers are going to relate too, not the 40 year old should-have-been-alcoholics-but-this-is-a-childrens-novel characters.
(p.s. was anyone else getting an exes vibe from sean and derek???? no???? just me???? oh well)
I got an advanced copy of this book through NetGalley.
The Bone Wars by Erin S. Evan is for anyone who ever sat and poured over books about dinosaurs, who dug into sand or dirt hoping to find a fossil, who thought archaeology was the coolest subject. It is a love story to those people in the form of a suspenseful adventure. Plus, there might be dragons.
The unfortunate thing is that I think The Bone Wars will not appeal to anyone who has no interest in dinosaurs or paleontology. For one, it tends to read like a textbook at times. Ms. Evan fills much of the novel with dinosaur or paleontology minutiae. I know she does so to ensure readers understand what paleontologists do and how they work, but it detracts from the story. There is a difference between ensuring readers understand enough to appreciate what is happening versus over-educating your readers to the detriment of the story, a line Ms. Evan crosses once too often.
Another nitpicky issue I have with The Bone Wars is the book synopsis from the publisher. It makes it seems like we will be bouncing back and forth across timelines and that there is a connection between the three. Except there are no three timelines. There aren't even two timelines. Everything happens in the present; the only thing we see of the past is through letters beginning each chapter. The book's synopsis makes it seem like a more complicated story than it is, and the fact that it is not is disappointing.
Then there is the issue I have with a sixteen-year-old leading three experts in their field around the globe in a bone hunt. Even if the sixteen-year-old is a prodigy, the parent in me struggles with this idea and its execution. Molly is not a prodigy. She is simply a girl obsessed with becoming a paleontologist who happens to be with the right people at the wrong time.
Despite all that, I thought The Bone Wars was nerdy goodness. I was one of those kids who wanted to be a paleontologist, and my son's obsession with dinosaurs made other kids' obsessions pale in comparison. I also think dinosaurs and dinosaur bones bring out the kid in all of us as we marvel at these giant creatures who were alive millions of years ago. So, I enjoyed running around with Molly, Derek, Sean, and others. I had fun picturing each dinosaur mentioned and thoroughly appreciated the idea posited that dragons did exist once upon a time. I don't think I enjoyed it enough to continue the series, but it was a fun, nerdy reading experience.
I want to say that I enjoyed many parts of this book. Despite all its shortcomings, there were great bits in The Bone Wars and I’m glad I read it.
This is a young adult novel about sixteen year-old Molly’s adventures with a team of paleontologists. Passionate about dinosaurs and mythical creatures, she discovers a fossil that doesn’t look like a dinosaur and might be the remains of a dragon. Enters a mysterious group of people who steal the fossil ; Molly and the team of paleontologists then embark on a world tour / fossil hunt, in order to discover what that strange creature was and to possibly prove the existence of dragons.
While this was ultimately very different than what I expected based on the blurb, it had many things that I loved. It’s written by someone who loves dinosaurs and paleontology, and it shows! The Bone Wars is full of passion for these, the characters are representative of the various people you could encounter in this work field, it’s full of information and facts. Really, if you love dinosaurs, paleontology and geomythology, this is a book for you. It is about people who love science, it explores many scientific ideas and concepts about the living and the evolution of our planet. At its core are questions like what defines a creature, what makes a fossil a dinosaur and not something else. There are also bits about the history of paleontology and fossil hunters, which was interesting. While the first half is more focused on geology and working on excavation sites, the second one is a journey with mysteries, ancient artifacts and secret organizations. I loved the paleontological mystery and treasure hunting vibe! The novel also contains great scenes of characters discussing scientific processes and just being nerds, which I absolutely loved.
Sadly, I also had many issues with the book. The first major one was the various changes of point of view. Multiple POVs is something I love, but I need to be able to differentiate between them and above all, to identify who is narrating. It wasn’t the case here, the switches were confusing and I sometimes had to stop and over-analyze sentences to understand who the narrator was. I think the name of the person should be added to the chapters titles.
The Bone Wars also required so much suspension of disbelief. It’s something I can excuse if done sporadically, and when there are other things that make me love the book, but nothing here was believable. A teenager traveling overseas without parental approval, this same teenager constantly knowing more than world famous specialists about literally everything. Like, at this point I wish dragons being real were the less believable thing, but it wasn’t. This really prevented me from getting invested in the story. I’d also say that it reads more as a middle grade novel than YA ; very one-dimensional and simplistic characters, awkward middle-aged people joking about everything millennial which leads to the teenager being the smartest person in the room on a bunch of topics. The villains were also complete stereotypes, with cliché scenes of betrayal and revelations that weren’t surprising or well-written at all and looked like they were pulled from an Indiana Jones movie. Also, if you don’t care much about paleontology, geology or the history of these academic fields, this will probably bore you to death, because it is detailed and provides lots of information that was not always necessary.
As I wrote earlier, this wasn’t what I expected based on the summary. I thought I would get a more complex story, told in different timelines. While the novel does include a few letters from the nineteenth century, it all takes place in the present time. There were great ideas in there, and with this ending I guess we can expect a sequel. I probably wouldn’t recommend this book unless you are really into dinosaurs and paleontology. This felt like watching a kids show where every adult is a full-on stereotype, mixed with an 80s movie and its glaringly obvious villains ; overall enjoyable but not very satisfying and definitely forgettable.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and Inkshares for this eARC.
content warnings: underage drinking, description of a corpse, violence motivated by religious (christian) extremism, guns, kidnapping, non-consensual drug use, debilitating disease.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Y'all know that I hate DNF'ing ARCs. HATE IT. I feel this overwhelming sense of guilt anytime I don't finish a book if the publisher was kind enough to provide it for free. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get through this.
"The Bone Wars" is basically like if Jurassic Park met The DaVinci Code but for teenagers. I have no idea why Evan chose to write this story as YA, I think it would've made a million times more sense for this to be an adult novel. But whatever.
There are info dumps, and an MC who is a skilled paleontologist at the age of 16 somehow? Also, the writing just isn't that strong. On the first page along we have both of these nonsensical quotes:
"'Look up, Molly!' she'd say. 'You're missing the world.' Yet my eyes never left the ground." For context, this snippet is referencing how the MC's mom wasn't supportive of her dino-digging dreams. But like....why? I've not encountered many parents who would have an issue with their child becoming a respected scientist but....okay.
"The town felt slow, even from a thousand feet in the air." I don't even know what this means.
I don't know...the idea behind this is super cool but it feels like the execution was wildly off.
Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy of The Bone Wars. I did like this book. I enjoyed the premise that science has covered up the existence of dragons. I found the things that the 16 year old was able to do and the fact that adults let her to be a little too far fetched. I did like the book enough to finish it. And I liked learning about the females, like Mary Anning, who played an impressive role in modern paleontology.
This one is a slightly odd mix of almost-science-fiction, historical-conspiracy thriller, and hard-core paleontology, with a substantial flavor of Michael Crichton, The Da Vinci Code, and Indiana Jones threaded through it. There are four main characters: There’s Molly Wilder, California high school junior and dinosaur geek, with considerable volunteer field experience already under her belt. Now she’s won a summer internship at as very hot dig in Montana crammed with dinosaur fossils. There’s Sarah Connell, doctoral candidate and Molly’s crew boss on the dig. There’s Derek Farnsborough, a freelance paleontologist who sells the fossils he discovers on the open market -- which is perfectly legal, but his activities make him no friends in the academic community. He also has ambitions to build a museum in Montana. And there’s Prof. Sean Oliphant. Sarah’s academic supervisor and overseer of the dig, and a general p.i.a.. He and Derek have been at odds for a long time, naturally.
Molly has only bee on the site a couple of days when she stumbles over a mind-blowing find -- the almost perfectly preserved remains in the back of a shallow hillside cave of the very large dinosaur that seems to be a relative of T Rex, only bigger and with wings. The teeth and the clawed feet ought not to appear on the same animal, and the whole thing is black. It’s perfectly obvious to Molly what this thing is: It’s dragon. Ir at least it’s the creature the world’s dragon myths are based on. So they use very high-tech, ground-penetrating radar to record the details of the find and a cutting-edge 3-D printing to produce a smaller model, and it’s all very exciting.
But then government agents burst in, take everything in Farnsworth'ss warehouse, including the model, steal the original find, and destroy everything else on the site -- a huge amount of work, gone forever. They claim to be Bureau of Land Management and say the dig is on protected public land, but it doesn’t take long to disprove that. Of course, it’s now too late. But while the four of them are trying to figure what’s going on and what to do about it,they begin receiving surreptitious messages and clues by email, and the next thing you know, they’re off to London and the British Museum. And there they uncover more secrets and mysterious notes about the ancient Order of St. George, which appears to be behind the raid in Montana. And so the fast-paced adventure gets under way as the quartet take on the Bad Guys. And it’s not bad. The interplay among the characters is mostly well handled and the action scenes are semi-cinematic.
But there are problems. First, the action frequently pauses while the characters explain the history of paleontology to each other for the benefit of the reader. This sort of data-dump is a common failing among first-time novelists. Second, there are occasional bizarre infelicities of expression, like “A smile graced my lips,” that stopped me in my tracks. Also, I’ve never heard of anyone going into a pub in the British countryside and ordering “a set of fish and chips.” All of these things would have been red-penciled by any developmental editor.
Worse, though, is that each chapter is seen through the eyes of a different character (though not always as the narrator), but no indication is given of which person that is -- and it’s often difficult to figure out, except by slow elimination of each the others. Often, yore halfway through a chapter before you’ve figured out who’s talking. Not a good thing. The author should have put the speaker’s name in italics beneath each chapter title.
Finally, it’s just hard to believe that Molly, at sixteen, n matter how dedicated she might be to her studies, could be as deeply knowledgeable about the field -- and a great many other things in various subjects -- as she appears to be. (Oliphant even makes a sarcastic comment about her “Jeopardy-level knowledge.”) She knows details of the personal and professional lives of a large number 19th-century scientists, just offhand, that a college graduate in paleontology would expect to have to look up. And this only the first volume of a projected trilogy.
Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I don't hate this book and I will absolutely read the rest of the series. I may not be not sleeping at night waiting for the day it releases, but I enjoyed it enough to want to know what happens.
There are many many pros to this book, and a few cons but overall it was a decent book. I will go over both at the same time within different categories.
Characters and Character Building
PROS: -I really could relate to Molly (my BFF is named Molly and is obsessed with dinosaurs) and although annoying at times, Oliphant was realistic for a self obsessed person.
CONS: -The book didn't touch too much on Sarah until the end, even though she turns out to be a pretty important character. I am assuming more of her will appear later in the series.
- It seemed like Molly, although very smart, seemed to figure out everything. latin? She knows. Random riddle? she knows that too. It didn't seem too realistic that a 16 year old would figure out everything 98% before a bunch of very intelligent and well known paleo people.
- Fransworth mentioned he is only a few years older than Oliphant, yet the author makes him seem kinda air-headed - like he knows nothing about technology, or the latest trends, yet he is this amazing fossil dealer and is involved with black market stuff. I don't really understand that. Logically sounds like he should be pretty cunning per his background.
I read this book in just around 6 hours over two days. It's a very easy read and I didn't mind the style as much as some people didn't. It's very YA.
PROS: - The author has a background of paleontology herself, and she incorporated that a lot, and I absolutely loved it. It was pretty visual in the beginning, and her facts about dinosaurs were right on. I enjoyed learning a lot myself about certain dinosaurs. Some may find it fact heavy, but I thought it was great. Erin (author) also used real place locations and people which she explained in a break down in the end - and that was super cool.
CONS: - FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE LET US KNOW THE POV THE CHAPTER IS WRITTEN FROM. I love different POV writing, but I don't like having to figure it out myself over the first couple paragraphs. I often found myself saying "okay, well it's not Sarah because she was mentioned.. It wasn't this person because.."... It's small but heavily weighted on my enjoyment - especially since it seemed very random over the four main characters.
PROS: - this was such a great plot line for a neat story. it has great "bones" (heh get it) to be a great series. I do see some people getting amped up (both negative and positive) about the whole God/Evolution thing, but I didn't mind it.
CONS: - it seemed to "national treasure" for me. What I mean is that, the characters get a bunch of hints and they need to travel on what seems like with unlimited money, to different countries, ultimately just getting kidnapped by a company in the end which explains the situation. Why couldn't this company just reach out to them in the first place? I am assuming the author did this for many reasons including making it more believable for both reader and characters to go through this wild goose chase and making sure the are not with 'the order' but the execution didn't jive with me much.
- Some things also seemed... "how were they not discovered already - ish".. You are telling me no one explored that cave before Molly? No one thought to enter that dirt pile mound thing and discover a body?
- nothing really happened until the last 20 pages. it was a very slow build. I feel like this book is just an ultimate slow build to the rest of the series. I just wish it had a little more 'oomph'. I found myself really hoping *something* would happen eventually.
Again, in summary, I enjoyed the story for what it was, but I hope the author fixes the POV view with labeling the chapters, and making some more exciting things happen :)
Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of this book to be able to provide the below review.
I loved the cover and description of the book. However within the first chapter I was already feeling something was off. It didn't get much better as the book continued. I only finished it because I wanted to be sure about one character, which I was correct in my assumptions.
The Bone Wars does eventually set a fast pace. It is filled with discovery and action sequences meant to hook you in. However, at the beginning of the book we are also shown that there will be info dumps. In the first few chapters there is a lot of info thrown at you. Granted it is interesting as it is probably all true facts of Paleontology and Montana. Also this book is slated for teenagers so they will possibly be less judging about that. I just feel this could have been done in a smoother fashion.
Main characters are Molly, teenage grant recipient working with University of Wyoming students at a dig site. We see from her first and at first more so than the others. As a teenager the character does display the traits of thinking she is smarter and more entitled to things than someone her age probably would be. This is also the issue I had with the book. Molly is a teenager so her feeling smug at proving the adults attitudes about her false rings true. However how the adults of this book are portrayed does not. The two other perspectives we get are middle aged men. One a jaded privateer dino hunter and the other a world famous Paleontology professor. Both of whom start out by thinking Molly is "just a kid" and belittling her ideas.
The story line revolves around Molly making a history changing discovery at the Montana dig site. As soon as the skeleton replica is created the team knows that this is no dinosaur seen before. This is also when an evil organization comes in to steal everything. Thus begins a globe trotting race to discover what the bones were before the evidence can all be destroyed. Here is also were a break from reality really occurs. Molly is smart and thinks outside the box sure, but what responsible adults are going to take a normal 16 year old outside of the country. They didn't even inform her parent, that is technically called kidnapping regardless if she wanted to go. I know this is aimed for teenagers I do but this is just to much. Also that in a room of intelligent people Molly is the only one to put the pieces together every time, really.
The story played out as expected with the one character being the double agent. Her reasoning for it while touching also went against the characters beliefs at the same time. I suppose risking everything you love for an experimental cure sounds worth it. But knowing what she did and not wanting Molly involved then she should have worked harder to leave her stateside. The ending with the Japanese corporation was unexpected though. It does set up for the series to continue granted. However it is yet again an example of why is a teenager getting roped into this. If they wanted her mind I get but then they could have continued helping her with school and grants until she is older.
This book is resurrecting my childhood fascination with 🐉 &🦕🦖! Dinosaurs! Dragons! Palaeontology! Natural History! Rogue Fossil Hunters! Fossil Pirates! Secret Societies! — this book has everything–and I’m here for it.
I whipped through this book very quickly. It was an engaging and fun romp as the characters began their adventure in Montana, then flew to the UK, Germany, Italy, and ultimately Japan. It was a good choice for Evan to switch character perspectives so that the story was told from multiple points of view–it helped present a fuller picture, and better allowed for misdirection and/or misunderstandings between characters (and the reader) to play out.
<Draco was Latin for dragon, and Sauria was derived from the Greek word sours, for lizard or reptile. Dragon Lizard. Kind of superfluous, but the name repetition did evoke a visual of primordial terror.>>
I absolutely loved all of the global dragon mythology and folklore that was expertly weaved into the established timelines of palaeography’s study of natural history. Geomythology and Comparative Mythology are fascinating subjects on their own, let alone tied into palaeontology as has been done here. Additionally, I especially enjoyed Evan’s way of highlighting the oft over-looked, but equally significant, contributions of women.
Evan clearly portrayed some important aspects of academia: - How thoroughly academics and scientists require good solid evidence, rather than circumstantial fragments in order to solidly demonstrate any addition to or deviation from established theories or timelines. - The cut-throat competitive nature of academia–intellectual theft and plagiarism are common occurrences, unfortunately. - That inter-disciplinary and inter-global collaboration yields a far richer, a more diverse and inclusive, and a much more holistic picture, rather than a closed and single-minded pursuit of a theory, belief, or agenda which serves only a small minority of people.
I’m looking forward to continuing to read the Pirates of Montana series when the next book is released.
I’d like to thank NetGalley, Inkshares, and Erin S. Evan for providing access to an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.