In the third installment of Haddix’s series about a futuristic society in which families are forbidden to have more than two children, Nina, a secondary character in Among the Impostors, is falsely accused of treason and imprisoned by the Population Police. Her interrogator gives her an ultimatum: either she can get three other child prisoners, illegal third-borns like Nina, to reveal who harbored them and where they got their fake identification cards, or she will be executed. Nina sees a chance to escape the prison (which seems rather convenient at the time) and, taking the prisoners with her, quickly discovers their street smarts. But when their food supply runs out, Nina seeks the boy she knew as Lee (the series’ original protagonist). Haddix expertly describes the impact of Nina’s upbringing in hiding (she doesn’t know how to swim; the sound of students laughing loudly reminds her of the first time she overheard children playing outside and could not join them). As with the last book, there are dense revelations at the end (including an explanation of Nina’s ease in escaping prison), and some of them may test readers’ willingness to suspend disbelief. Even so, the author delivers more than enough suspense to keep fans hooked and to intrigue new recruits as well. Ages 9-14.
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From School Library Journal
Grade 5-9-Haddix continues her science fiction dystopian tale about illegal third children in this sequel to Among the Hidden (1998) and Among the Imposters (2001, both S & S). Nina is imprisoned by the Population Police for being an illegal child. She is given the opportunity to save herself by spying on the other three children who are in the jail cell with her. Nina finds herself both drawn to them and fearful for her own life. When she has a chance to escape, she decides to take them with her and is surprised at their survival skills as they fend for themselves in the wild. Then, Nina is captured again. This time, though, she has an even harder decision to make-will she put her life in danger in order to save her friends? In a surprising ending, Nina finds that the children she rescued and the man from the Population Police who arrests her the second time are part of a group dedicated to saving third children like herself. While the book could stand alone, it is much more interesting and meaningful when read after the two previous volumes. As a character, Nina is well drawn and believable but it is the agonizing moral decisions that she must make that elevate the book beyond the average tale. Haddix is a superb storyteller and her view of a future world short of food that allows only two children per family is both scary and plausible.