Among the Impostors
by
Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster Books, 2001


This is the second book in the Shadow Children Sequence; the first book is Among the Hidden. If you have not read that book, you may not want to read this review, as it has spoilers for the first book. Also, these books should be read in order, so there isn't a lot of point in you reading this review. However, if you are wondering if this book is good reading for your child, I will mention that it is somewhat darker in tone than the first book in the series, although not drastically so. I still recommend it for 12-14 year olds, and am not surprised that many 10-year-olds enjoy it.

Impostors picks up right where Hidden left off. Luke is being dropped off at a boarding school, having just learned his new identity, and knowing next to nothing about the world or his place in it. He finds that the school is not just a lonely and confusing place, but is outright hostile, and nearly nightmarish in its seemingly incomprehensible rules. The boy assigned to show him around is a bully, and not only bullies him constantly, but also fails to give him a class schedule or any hint about school rules. Worse, having spent the last twelve years knowing only his own house and having only met six people (four of them immediate family), Luke discovers that he has some serious cognitive deficiencies; he cannot navigate the halls of the school - his mental map just isn't set up for a building with multiple wings and dozens of classrooms and dorm rooms. Worse, he is completely face blind; he honestly cannot recognize anyone. He is reduced to attending classes at random, hiding when he can, and avoiding everyone.

This sounds a bit silly, but this is a rather serious book. Luke is not happy, and the author does not attempt to soft-pedal his suffering and unhappiness. Fortunately, this is a transitional state, and things eventually start to look up. Luke does find some other thirds, and starts to make friends. A can not say anything else without giving away spoilers, so you'll have to read the book if you want to know more.

This book is more angsty and less social-political in tone than Impostors, but this is not a bad thing, and it fits quite well into the series. This book is even lighter on the science fiction than the first in the series, but that doesn't mean that it is bad science fiction; this is another 150 page installation in a long and engaging story, packaged for children who were only just discovering that it was fun to read epic stories. Impostors continues to support my earlier evaluation that this is an excellent series.

Unlike Hidden, Impostors does actually end with an resolution, (I suspect that 3-year gap between the first and second books may have taught the author the downside of cliffhangers) although not a final one, and it leaves the reader ready and eager for the third book in the series, Among the Betrayed.

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