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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
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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