Among the Betrayed
Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster Books, 2002
This is the third book in the Shadow Children Sequence; the first book is Among the Hidden. If you have not read the earlier books, you should probably read them first. While this book might be enjoyed without reading the earlier books, it is essentially a convoluted subplot to the longer series, and makes more sense in context. If you continue to read, be warned, this review contains minor spoilers for the first two books.
This is the story of Nina Idi, who we met briefly in the last book of the series, Among the Impostors. She was one of the visitors from the girl's boarding school, specifically the one that was declaimed as an impostor third. The Population Police have arrested her as a traitor, as they believe that she was trying to mislead them to collect the bounty on children that she was falsely claiming to be thirds. This is not true, and Nina is a bit confused as to what is going on. But mostly, she is just miserable, being kept for weeks in a small, unlit cell, being beaten and starved, and surely soon to be executed.
She is faced with the choice of remaining in her cell until she is executed, turning traitor to the thirds, or, perhaps, attempting to escape. She seriously considers each of these, and this dilemma plagues her for much of the book. While in the Population Police's dungeon, she meets three new children (Alia, Percy, and Matthias), gutter rats who lived on the streets of the city, and apparently had found a method of falsifying ID cards. They will no doubt appear in later books -- at least, I certainly hope they do, as they are interesting characters ripe for development.
This story does not fit together as well as the stories in the first two books, although I have to suspect that some odd plot holes are perhaps foreshadowing things to come in later books. While the story seems to be trending towards the ridiculous at times, it turns out that most of the events do make sense in the end -- which makes me think that the author has a plan to close up even those bits that don't make sense, eventually. Anyway, if the story seems unlikely to you, keep reading, it gets better.
Overall, this is my least favorite of the books in this series so far, but it is a nice read, and an interesting introduction to four new and interesting characters. I highly recommend reading it as a part of the series, and not as a stand-alone book; I wouldn't really recommend it at all if I hadn't read the backstory, and if I hadn't enjoyed the series up to this point so much.
The next book in the series is Among the Barons.