Friday, March 4, 2016

Here’s a Dystopian Series for Readers Who Usually Don’t Like Dystopian Novels

A book review of the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

The Story: In a future where a ruthless government rules and it is illegal to have more than two children, one third child, a boy, lives a secret life on his family’s farm. When the government decides to build a new neighborhood next to the farm, he is forced to stay hidden in house. Then, one day, the sight of another third child draws him out of the house and into a rebellion that seeks to overthrow the government and legalize third children.

My Thoughts: I had avoided this series for awhile due to it appearing to be a generic, shallow dystopian series for young readers, but the first book, Among the Hidden, quickly proved me wrong. The plot is simple but effective, and the characters, setting, and moral questions it raises are all complex and fascinating.

The second book, Among the Impostors, is just as good as the first. When the third book, Among the Betrayed, switched to focusing entirely on a different protagonist, I worried that the series would lose its way, but as it turned out, the only letdown about the book is that the plot is weaker than the first two, a flaw which never surfaces again in the next four books.

Books four through six, Among the Barons, Among the Brave, and Among the Enemy, sometimes switch protagonists for a whole book again, and while this occasionally gets annoying due to wanting to know what other main characters are doing, the books in and of themselves are all as good as the first two in the series.

The last book, Among the Free, focuses once more on the protagonist who started the series and was featured in the most books. The ending is inspiring and filled with hope, making the journey through the dark dystopian world fully worth it. Some of the other main characters are unfortunately neglected, but aside from that, it’s a good ending to the series.

Dystopian novels can be perfect for exploring hard questions, and the Shadow Children series refreshingly examines them in a way that is respectful of faith and affirming of strong moral values, while not giving easy answers. In some cases, it doesn’t give an answer at all, simply asking readers to ponder it for themselves. Those who want thought-provoking dystopian novels that aren’t as dreary as many of their brethren will find much to like here.

Content Overview: The intensity of the dystopian setting might be too much for some younger readers, but it’s much milder than the Hunger Games trilogy, with not much violence and only one instance of profanity.


  1. These sound like something I'd like to read at some point. :) Now I need to actually start reading all the books that I've added to my to-read list because of your blog...ha-ha!