Among the Enemy
Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster Books, 2005
This is the sixth and penultimate book in the Shadow Children Sequence; the first book is Among the Hidden. If you have not read the earlier books, you should read them first. This book, and this review, will make very little sense otherwise. If you continue to read, be warned, this review contains spoilers for the earlier books.
This book is very much in the same spirit as the previous in the series, Among the Brave, and takes place only a few weeks after that book ends. This time it is Matthias going undercover, the same Matthias that first appeared in Among the Betrayed, as part of the inseparable trio of Matthias, Alia, and Percy. Except that now they finally do get separated, and Matthias ends up infiltrating the Population Police, alone.
In the middle of an ambush Matthias thoughtlessly saves a member of the Population Police, and in order to distance himself from the mysterious ambushers he must claim that he was on his way to join the ranks of the Population Police himself. The man he saved, who has the unlikely name of Tiddy, is very enthusiastic about this idea. He takes Matthias directly to PP headquarters and starts talking up his bravery and devotion to the cause. Matthias finds himself on a fast track to success as a public servant... which accelerates suddenly when Tiddy is assassinated, leaving Matthias in the role a friend-in-grief to Tiddy's friend and mentor, the Commander of the central office of the Population Police. Of course, Matthias is much more upset over loosing Alia and Percy. Be he obviously can't tell anyone this, or do anything but play along with the Commander.
And that's really what this story is about -- half an adventure story of covert infiltration, and half Matthias dealing with uncertainty and loss. This is very much in the same vein as Among the Brave; in fact, these two books are so similar that after reading them I immediately started to confuse the two. The Shadow Children books have very little difference in the voices and personalities of the various main characters; they might as well all be about Luke, as far as the characters go. This is not entirely a bad thing, as the children are likable and compelling characters. I also certainly did not mind at all reading another book closely mirroring Among the Brave, as it is one of the best in the series.
This book distinguishes itself within the series primarily by finally giving the Thirds their first significant victory. It is also a good rollicking read, which builds some necessary momentum, as the final book has a bit of a tone shift. It was wise of Haddix to get the readers pumped a bit. Overall, a great book.
Among the Brave // Among the Enemy // Among the Free