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This is the first book in a series about a future America where a totalitarian government has responded to a famine hysteria by forbidding anyone from having more than two children. The Population Police enforce the edict--Law 3903--but with the inefficiency we'd associate with statists. Luke Garner is the third son of farmers Edna and Harlan, barely scraping by because of bureaucratic food controls. He's been kept hidden for all of his twelve years, which was made easier by their rural circumstances. But now the government is putting in a new development and Luke faces the prospect of not even being allowed outside to help with chores or play with his older brothers. This exacerbates the general dissatisfaction's he's felt with the sort of life he's forced to lead.

But a surprise awaits Luke. When the new neighbors move in, he realizes that another family is hiding a third child. She turns out to be Jen Talbot, the daughter of a "Baron"--the well-to-do segment of society. Her father actually works for the government but broke the law anyway. Because of their status, she has a computer, fake ID, opportunities to travel into the city, etc. She reveals to him that there are many more "Shadow Children" and that she's organizing a march to demand full rights for their kind.

With the exception of Luke, and to a lesser extent Jen, the characters here are rather underwritten and the plot jumps around a bit rather than flowing from event to event. That does reduce the text to 150 action-packed pages, like the kid's books of our youth, but takes some getting used to in an era when J. K. Rowling and others are producing such weighty tomes and taking their sweet time telling children's stories. But what's missing in character and plot development is amply made up for by the ideas at work in the novel. One might prefer that Ms Haddix presented the case against the anti-human State and its Malthusian idiocy with greater clarity and force, kids won't be able to avoid considering the implications of the story. We've reached the odd point in our political history where the belief that children are a boon to society and a joy to a family is distinctly conservative, if not downright religious. This book celebrates those beliefs whether its intent is political/theological or not.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A-)

  

Websites:

Margaret Haddix Links:

    -AUTHOR SITE: Haddix Books
    -WIKIPEDIA: Margaret Peterson Haddix
    -WIKIPEDIA: Shadow Children sequence
    -GOOGLE BOOK: Among the Hidden
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Margaret Peterson Haddix (Scholastic)
    -AUTHOR PAGE: Margaret Peterson Haddix (Simon & Schuster)
    -WEB QUEST: Population Control Project: A WebQuest in conjunction with the novel Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Heidi Adreon, Summer 2001, Mahomet-Seymour Junior High)
    -BOOK LIST: Margaret Peterson Haddix's Summer Reading List (TeenReads)
    -INTERVIEW: Author Interview: Margaret Peterson Haddix on Found (The Missing: Book 1) (Cynthia Leitich Smith, 4/22/08, Cynsations)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: The Books That Rock the Cradle: Libertarian themes in children's fiction (Stuart Anderson, January 2006, Reason)
    -REVIEW: of Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Chris Donner, SF Site)
    -REVIEW: of Among the Hidden (Su Terry, Metapsychology)
    -REVIEW: of Among the Hidden (Bart's Bookshelf)
    -REVIEW: of Among the Impostors by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Miranda, Building Rainbows)
    -REVIEW: of Among the Betrayed by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Sergey, Building Rainbows)
    -REVIEW: of Among the Brave by Margaret Peterson Haddix (M. Wayne Cunningham, Books in Canada)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: Margaret Peterson Haddix (Sherry, Semicolon)
    -REVIEW: of Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Carly M., Scholastic: Ink Splot)
    -REVIEW: of Found (Ink Weaver)
    -REVIEW: of Found (Alexandra, Chicklish)
    -REVIEW: of Found (izabeth Bird, School Library Journal)
    -REVIEW: of Found (The Reading Zone)
    -REVIEW: of Found (Jamie Burke, Associated Content)
    -REVIEW: of Escape From Memory by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Teresa Knight, Suite 101)
    -REVIEW: of Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Teen Ink)

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