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Continuing the story of Luke Garner, a third child born under a futuristic government that only allows two children per family, this sequel to Among the Hidden picks up with Luke finally out of hiding and going to boarding school under an assumed identity. While Haddix is often able to capture the suspense of her earlier work, this installment gets mired in too many confusing details, and the conclusion is flimsy. As Luke's initial bewilderment at Hendricks School for Boys subsides, he begins to notice that some students behave strangely some appear to respond to several different names, and others are constantly holding themselves, rocking. When he discovers a bunch of other "exnays," or third children, meeting in the woods, he hopes that he's finally found a community where he belongs. But Luke is still frightened of being turned over to the Population Police should he trust these kids with his true identity? The descriptions of the school, windowless and built like a labyrinth, combined with accounts of obtuse school staff, give Haddix's story the appropriate nightmarish quality, and readers will understand Luke's constant feelings of anxiety. Other plot points are harder to follow, such as the confusing test the exnays put new kids through to see if they are third children. In the end, Mr. Hendricks, the school's founder, shows up to shed light on all the mysteries, but his explanations are less than believable, and questions left unanswered point too obviously to another sequel. Ages 9-14. (June) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Gr 5-7-Luke, a third child, hides quietly in his house, eluding the Population Police because he lives in a society in which families are only allowed two children. Now he has a chance to come out of the shadows by taking on an assumed identity and leaving home. This sequel to Among the Hidden (S & S, 1998) has Luke, now Lee, entering the Hendricks School for boys and a completely new existence where he feels lost and confused by his surroundings. He has gone from a furtive solitary existence to one in which he is never alone, from being desperate for company to being hazed by his classmates, particularly his roommate, "the Jackal." Lee learns to cope with the changes before him by escaping through the door to the outside. The story is artfully told with suspense and interesting twists. As Lee's confusion dissipates, readers begin to see what is going on. Lee is a fully realized character, developing courage and a true sense of self. Peripheral characters are not as fully developed, serving solely to further the story. Repeated references to Jen, another third child from the first book and martyr to all third children, may cause readers to wonder what they have missed. By the end of the story, the main character evolves into "L" and the author has created the possibility for another sequel. This compelling read can be enjoyed alone but it's sure to leave readers wanting to know the whole story.-Susan M. Moore, Louisville Free Public Library, KY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.