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Among the Enemy

by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Series: The Shadow Children #6
240 pages, Suspense
Reviewed by Clodsley S.

A very good book with moral lessons.

Plot

After his friends are wounded in a train incident and a shootout, Matthias, an illegal "third-child" in a place where a couple can only have two children per family, sets out to save them, but ends up in the hands of the Population Police, a fierce force that "disposes of" third children. He finds that he's going to be trained to become a Population Police Officer himself.

Morality

Matthias pushes himself hard in order to save his friends, from walking miles and miles cross-country for help or even praying for guidance. He's always thinking of things Samuel, the Christian man who raised him and his friends when they were abandoned, had said to them, such as that fighting isn't the only way to solve conflict. He hates seeing homeless people on the street and wants the evil in the world to be gone.

Spiritual Content

Matthias prays frequently to God, though it might be instinct just because he was raised by a Christian man. After every time they try to think of something positive, one of them always ends with "and God loves us".

Violence

The most intense part is probably when Matthias' friend Percy is shot in the leg, and there's a lot of blood. Population Police officers shoot at a cabin where there are rebels hiding, and their bodies are piled up outside. There are splotches of blood on the floor of the cabin when Matthias goes in. Matthias is held at gunpoint at one point. A Population Police Officer writhes and thrashes violently on the floor after he's poisoned, and later dies. Towards the beginning, Matthias sticks a nail into the tire of a prison truck and it veers off the road and a tree falls on it. Many of the kids inside it are injured or dead. A guard is knocked out and a needle is stuck in his arm to keep him unconscious. Matthias is knocked out plenty of times as well, once waking up with a broken rib.

Drug and Alcohol Content

A Population Police officer is poisoned.

Sexual Content

Matthias and a serving girl in the Pop. Police Headquarters are caught meeting about their escape inside a closet, and one of the men who finds them makes remarks about them kissing and other love-related comments, but none of them are explicit. The Officers croon about the cafeteria girls in the mess hall, but again, none of them are explicit either.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

"My God" was used once.

Conclusion

This book was non-stop action. I couldn't stop reading it until the last page. The violence and the violent descriptions could've been toned down, but the good characters are morally sound and there are spiritual undertones throughout the book. In some parts I found parallels between this and the discrimination of the Jews in Europe around 1940. But in this case, it's population growth that's being discriminated against.

But one thing that disturbed me was that when the Population Police weren't killing the population, they were laughing. They cracked jokes. And they were actually enthusiastic about the future. It creeped me out, the way that evil can be so deceiving. There's truth in that in the real world. Something might look really good when you just glance at it, but once you dig deeper, there's something wrong.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 11-12

Review Rating:

Average rating: 3 stars
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