Among the Hidden packages a thought-provoking premise in a rapid-fire adventure story. Readers can be carried along by the sheer adrenaline of it all.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This futuristic novel focuses on a totalitarian regime and the Internet. PW noted, "The plot development is sometimes implausible and the characterizations a bit brittle, but the unsettling, thought-provoking premise should suffice to keep readers hooked." Ages 8-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
The ALAN Review - Betty Carter
Returning to the younger middle school audience she addressed in Running Out of Time, Haddix thrusts readers into a world of too many people, not enough food. The Population Police dictate two children per family. Luke is an illegal "third," forced to stay hidden in the shadows of his family farm. When rich government employees build a housing development on adjacent land, Luke's parents confine him to an attic room. Bored, he spends his days watching the neighborhood. He soon discovers an odd pattern in one house: the family leaves, but activity continues. Luke sneaks over and meets Jen, another "third." Luke, mirroring his disenfranchised family, fears the totalitarian government; Jen using all the resources of her privileged background, challenges it. Although the denouement is swift and tidy, the fully realized setting, honest characters, and fast paced plot combine for a suspenseful tale of two youngsters fighting for their very existence.
VOYA - Debbie Earl
Luke is the youngest of three brothers. When his parents married, they dreamed of having four children: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, to labor on the family farm. That was before the government enacted the Population Law, which allowed families only two children. Before the penalties became severe, Luke's mother found she was unexpectedly pregnant and decided to keep the baby. Now the family is trapped: the government has purchased the woodlands surrounding the farm and is cutting down trees to make room for houses. To keep from being seen, Luke is forced to hide in the attic where he becomes a pale, depressed recluse. Luke views the outside world through a small attic air vent, and one day detects another "shadow child" in a neighboring house. He breaks into the seemingly deserted home and meets Jen, who acts tough and fearless and introduces Luke to a chat room of hidden children on the Internet. When Luke and Jen discover a rally planned to protest the Population Law, Jen is determined to attend but Luke is afraid, and stays home. Luke breaks into Jen's house again and learns she was killed in the protest. Jen's father then offers Luke a fake ID, and this bleak allegorical tale ends with Luke leaving to attend school, then rejoin the outside world. This is an easily understood, younger reader's 1984 or Brave New World, presenting a chilling vision of a possibly not-too-distant future. Haddix's other books include Don't You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey (Simon & Schuster, 1996/VOYA December 1996). VOYA Codes: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects, Broad general YA appeal, Middle School-defined as grades 6 to 8 and Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9).
Children's Literature - Christopher Moning
If anyone should catch sight of 12-year-old Luke Garner, he's as good as dead. Luke is a Shadow child, the third child of the family in a futuristic society where the Population Law states that families are allowed no more than two offspring. When the government decides to take the woodlands around Luke's house to make way for a housing development, Luke wonders if he will ever be allowed to go outside again. One day, Luke sees someone stirring at a neighbor's supposedly empty house. He risks being caught and befriends Jen, another shadow child. Together, the illegal children discuss their yearning to be free. Jen introduces Luke to other third children, and they converse over the Internet. Luke is not as zealous as his wealthy friend is; Jen's courage costs her her life. Luke forges his own courage, and ultimately sets out to change the world, a little at a time. A fine imaginative and instructive cautionary tale.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Born third at a time when having more than two children per family is illegal and subject to seizure and punishment by the Population Police, Luke has spent all of his 12 years in hiding. His parents disobeyed once by having him and are determined not to do anything unlawful again. At first the woods around his family's farm are thick enough to conceal him when he plays and works outdoors, but when the government develops some of that land for housing, his world narrows to just the attic. Gazing through an air vent at new homes, he spies a child's face at a window after the family of four has already left for the day. Is it possible that he is not the only hidden child? Answering this question brings Luke greater danger than he has ever faced before, but also greater possibilities for some kind of life outside of the attic. This is a near future of shortages and deprivation where widespread famines have led to a totalitarian government that controls all aspects of its citizens' lives. When the boy secretly ventures outside the attic and meets the girl in the neighboring house, he learns that expressing divergent opinions openly can lead to tragedy. To what extent is he willing to defy the government in order to have a life worth living? As in Haddix's Running Out of Time (S & S, 1995), the loss of free will is the fundamental theme of an exciting and compelling story of one young person defying authority and the odds to make a difference. Readers will be captivated by Luke's predicament and his reactions to it.-Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA
In a chilling and intelligent novel, Haddix (Leaving Fishers, 1997, etc.) envisions a near future where a totalitarian US limits families to only two children. Luke, 12, the third boy in his farming family, has been hidden since birth, mostly in the attic, safe for the time being from the Population Police, who eradicate such "shadow children." Although he is protected, Luke is unhappy in his radical isolation, rereading a few books for entertainment and eating in a stairwell so he won't be seen through the windows. When Luke spies a child's face in the window of a newly constructed home, he realizes that he's found a comrade. Risking discovery, Luke sneaks over to the house and meets Jen, a spirited girl devoted to bringing the shadow children's plight center-stage, through a march on the White House. Luke is afraid to join her and later learns from Jen's father, a mole within the Population Police, that Jen and her compatriots were shot and killed, and that their murder was covered up. Jen's father also gets a fake identity card and a new life for Luke, who finally believes himself capable of acting to change the world. Haddix offers much for discussion here, by presenting a world not too different from America right now. The seizing of farmlands, untenable food regulations, and other scenarios that have come to fruition in these pages will give readers a new appreciation for their own world after a visit to Luke's. (Fiction. 9-13)