Among the Free Hardcover – May 1 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 5-9–This final installment in the set focuses on illegal third-child Luke, who has been working undercover in the Population Police stables with the hope of somehow helping to topple the oppressive regime. After being handpicked for a special chore by government officials, Luke and several other boys are loaded into a van and driven through the gates of headquarters and out into the world. All of the country's citizens are being issued new identification cards and they are told to knock on every door and summon the terrified people to a mandatory assembly. But one woman's steely refusal to comply kick-starts a revolution in which Luke is destined to play a critical role. Haddix's storytelling hums along quickly, if somewhat predictably. She relies a bit too heavily on stock dialogue and caricatures; change the name of the evil empire in command, for instance, and lines like The Population Police will prevail could have been written for any number of government goons in practically any futuristic novel. That said, this is a light, easy read that delivers what it promises. Fans of the series won't be disappointed.–Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 5-8. Ordered to kill an old woman, Luke--an illegal third child hiding out as a member of the organization he seeks to overthrow--flees, sparking a revolt that carries him back to Population Police headquarters, where he discovers a plot that forces him to make a life-altering choice. As in previous books in the Shadow Children series, Haddix focuses on philosophical issues, creating a bleak futuristic world populated with sketchy characters trotted out largely to demonstrate various opinions or behaviors. Still, there's enough action to keep things from stalling amid Luke's internal struggles, and series fans will be happy that revolution has, after five volumes, finally begun. John Peters
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
Luke Garner is a shadow child, the third child in a family. In a world who's supplies are stretched to the limit, the government sets a law that families are only allowed to have two children, any third children discovered by the population police will be taken and or killed. Luke has been fighting a battle to over throw the population police from the inside out with the help of his friends, Nina, and Trey.
Will the shadow children be freed, or shot down like so many others before?
I'm sorry to say this final book did not impress me. Not like I wanted it to.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Among the Free could have been a good finish to the Shadow Children series. Sadly, the ending is so rushed and implausible, that it spoils the rest of the book. It seems as though the author wrote the first part of the book, and then ran out of time to conclude the book in a satisfying manner. Even the tone of the ending is different; the series is fairly dark, while the ending is the exact opposite. The result is a very strong beginning and middle and a fizzle-out, unsatisfying ending.
Another problem is that many of the main characters' stories are not resolved. If you are not familiar with the series, the third book is about Nina, another Third Child; the fifth book is about Trey, a friend of Luke's who is also a Third Child; and the sixth book is about Luke's brother. References are made to characters from the earlier books, but most of the characters do not come back. However, a lot of the story revolves around Luke having imaginary conversations with Jen, who died in the first book. The author should have spent more time on the characters who were still alive and relevant, rather than the characters who weren't.
The book isn't all bad. In fact, except for the end, it's fairly good. The story advances at a slower pace than some of the earlier books, but it's still interesting and has some surprising twists.
If you've read the first six books in the series and are dying to find out what happens, go out and read the seventh, but don't expect a masterpiece. Or, if you want, you could use your imagination to make up a better ending.
The story picks up with Luke still working for the Population Police while secretly trying to sabotage the organization. Forced to make a life or death decision, Luke panics and leaves the scene. Ms. Haddix then has Luke on the run, meeting people who are there one second and gone the next without lending anything valuable to the plot. I felt as though the author was at a loss at times as to what exactly she wanted Luke to be doing. When he finally does return to headquarters, he unwittingly stumbles upon yet another plot by the Population Police, but still he wavers on what to do. When he finally does make a decision, the action picks up but it suddenly seems so implausible based on his prior actions that Luke becomes a caricature of himself. The ending itself is very rushed and highly unbelievable, and it would have been nice to have more interaction with the other characters Haddix introduced during the series, as well as having Luke return to his family.
While the book does have its moments, overall this was quite a disappointing ending to a good series. I almost got the impression that Ms. Haddix just wanted the book to be done as the story was padded with scenes and people that just didn't matter. The action parts are what saves this rating from two stars. I hope the author decides to write one more book that covers the recovery process for these characters and does justice to a fine series overall.
A devoted reader,
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