Book Review: Among the Hidden

January 30, 2010

“I am a third child!  I want to be treated like everyone else!”

When I did my independent study at Iowa State University, the professor book talked Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Among the Hidden, so when I saw it at the library book sale, I snatched it up.  It’s not hard to make the premise interesting because it is.  Luke is a third child, living in a world where it is illegal to have more than two children.  He’s not supposed to exist, and so he hides in his family’s home, unable to go to school or play outside or…anything.  And then one day, he sees the face of what could only be another third child in one of his neighbor’s windows.

amongthehidden1What I Liked

– The premise.  This is dystopian fiction, so Haddix is able to call attention to the silent and nameless and faceless.  These children aren’t alloted food or privileges because they shouldn’t exist.  Why?  Because they’re a drain on the country’s resources and have no real purpose (according to the government) except to drain those resources.

– Jen.  Jen is awesome and amazing and I love her.  LOVE.  In fact, I honestly wish the narrative had been about her instead of Luke.  Or at least that we got to spend more time with her.  You know, like the whole book.

– Among Jen’s awesome?  She starts a movement to protect and guarantee the rights of third children.

– As with other dystopian novels I’ve read, this one is very strongly anti-censorship.

– There is also a great discussion of propoganda.  The ultimate message?  Extremes are not good.  Period.  Balanced information is key to making informed decisions.

– The book moves fast.  It does drag a little in the beginning, but as soon as Luke sees Jen, it picks up and never really slows down until the end.  That’s not to say it’s all go, go, go, but the readability factor is very high.

What I Didn’t Like

– As usual, there are, apparently, no minorities in the future/dystopia (unless you count the third children).  Unlike The Giver, no mention is made of what could have possibly happened to all of these people or why there is an absence of them.  (It’s like Minority Report in that way.)  You could read the book as minorites, the poor, etc. being third children, but, you know.  It’d be nice to get a mention in there somewhere.

– Jen is way more interesting than Luke, and, yet, he is the POV character.  When Jen isn’t around, her absence is obvious.  (Did I mention that I love her?)

In conclusion:  All in all, a good read.

I wasn’t going to count this for the YA reading challenge because it’s really a middle grade novel.  But it is an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, so on the list it goes.

YA Challenge:  2/75

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