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KIRKUS REVIEWS  BOTHERATION Part Two: Waves of Dinosaurs
Vito DiBarone
Archway Publishing (318 pp.)

A school trip to Utah to dig for dinosaur bones may instead unearth a sinister plan in DiBarone’s YA sequel.

Californian Matty Weber and his friends are all set for a “dig seminar” at Utah’s Dinosaur National Monument near Vernal, Utah. It’s hardly surprising that people recognize the bright, perpetually curious 17-year-old; he was only 10 when he presented a paper on how to calculate the age of dinosaur fossils more easily. However, he finds that some people he meets are a bit suspicious.

One paleontologist, for example, initially lies about her name and age and claims that some bones at the monument site are fake. Famed scientist and paleontology PhD Steven David Whittle, who’s heading a tour involving several groups of children, seems to express keen interest in Matty’s past work. Soon Matty—along with his best friend, Gabriel Mason, and Matty’s romantic interest, Samantha Carter—finds himself enmeshed in a convoluted mystery.

Matty eventually ends up in a situation in which he has trouble distinguishing between reality and potential hallucinations, as some people seemingly vanish and others reappear. To find the truth, he must make his way through a maze of tunnels and decide who’s been deceiving him. DiBarone’s follow-up to The Missing Link (2022) runs on a deliberately hazy narrative. Matty is just as confused as readers will be, repeatedly questioning what he’s seeing or hearing. This generates a suspenseful mystery, and the introduction of smart computers nudges the story into the techno-thriller genre.

Matty’s own actions ensure things don’t spin entirely out of control, as he compiles helpful lists of the snowballing events and calms himself by mentally reciting mathematical equations. Samantha’s 10-year-old brother, Freddie, whom Matty (mostly) keeps an eye on, helps alleviate the narrative tension; he’s endearingly mischievous, as when he assertively orders Jack Daniel’s whiskey at a restaurant (“Make it a double”). Some puzzle pieces fall into place in the final act, but numerous questions linger, and the ending may leave some readers dizzy. A third series installment is in the works.

An intriguing, if relentlessly baffling, teen-oriented mystery.

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