Among the Brave

by Margaret Peterson Haddix
ISBN: 0689857942

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A Review of: Among the Brave
by M. Wayne Cunningham

Beat time,
Imagine a world with food so scarce the Population Police, led by the despotic Aldous Krakenaur, are systematically scouring fake IDs and annihilating all third-borns to limit families to two children. That's the frightening world of Margaret Peterson Haddix's fifth volume in her hugely successful Shadow Children series. Here 13-year-old Trey, a Latin and French spouting kid with "cowardice" as his middle name conspires with Mark Garner, the reckless, hell-raising brother of Trey's friend Luke (a hero from an earlier volume), to solve a murder, rescue kidnap victims, overturn Krakenaur and escape the clutches of the murderous population enforcers.
To achieve their objectives Trey and Mark undertake a mission impossible-to break into a mansion that has been turned into a prison. As they do so, Mark is impaled on electrified razor wire and carted off to a cage in the cellar, leaving a badly shaken Trey to muster his courage and press on. Since the Population Police are enlisting recruits in exchange for food, Trey bluffs his way into signing up and gaining access to the cellar where Mark is imprisoned. With the help of a couple of mysterious strangers and a couple of lucky, credibility-testing breaks, he and Mark escape. Next they find their friends who had been kidnapped earlier and manage to free them as well despite a couple of hair-raising glitches that could have just as easily ended with their re-capture. And even as the third-borns ponder the dangers of their escape, they resolve to re-enter the Population Police headquarters to commit acts of sabotage on behalf of other third-borns still at large and those yet to be born.
Among the Brave should prove to be as sure-fire a winner for reluctant readers as the earlier award-winning volumes in the series. As usual Haddix has taken pains to ensure the story is action packed and free flowing, the characters memorable, and the prose clear, concise and readable. Trey, who acknowledges at the end, "I'm braver than I used to be, I've done things that I never could have dreamed of before," is a very believable hero, who fought his fears as he forced himself to stare down police officers, elude an unruly mob, cozy up to a government official, and drive a truck without a single driving lesson in his life. And even though Haddix has tied up most of the threads in the book she has left enough of them dangling for yet another yarn in the series.

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