Warm and Cool Feedback:
+Strong character development
-Flawed logic (mistake in Haddix’s plot development and sequencing).
+Lacks plot devices
-poor development of settings
-Left with questions
Summary of Review: Haddix’s book four in the Shadow Children series delivers on some fronts, but falls short on others, making this read tiresome and trite. Most sadly, Haddix’s suspense ploy falls short due to her lack of correlation with Among the Hidden.
A sheer disappointment is verbiage attached to the descriptors of this book’s reading. Though it is not all “bad,” the book does have some gems lost in the crud in this text.
Luke’s character continues to develop through a web of lies. It is fun and sometimes hair pulling to read about how a 12 year old boy deals with being an illegal in a dystopian setting. Luke’s character growth is the best parts of this book, he evolves from a scared boy to someone who is daring. This character development –at least for me– is what stopped me from tossing this book to the trash bin. Now, I am too deep to quit, and can only hope that Among the Brave is better than this crud.
Despite Luke’s character development, there is some flawed logic in this text that ultimately takes away from the suspense. Haddix fails to connect what she has written in Among the Hidden to her fourth novel.
For most readers (I think), the largest suspense is Luke dealing with Lee’s identity and wondering if the Grants know he is a third child or not. However, Haddix has fabricated this suspense falsely, or made Luke forget what Mr Talbot said to him in this first novel, Among the Hidden:
The real Lee Grant was a Baron. He had died in a skiing accident just the night before. His parents wanted nothing to do with Luke– “too painful,” Jen’s father had explained– but they had agreed to donate their son’s name and identity card the way people had once donated hearts and kidneys.
It is difficult not to spoil Among the Barons’ main suspense, but a lot of the book is dedicated to Luke thinking about whether the family knows he is a third child! Yet, in Among the Hidden, Luke is fed all the information above, so he should know that the new baron family has willingly given their son’s ID to a third.
As a reader, I am surprised this faulty logic made it past copy editing and publication. Truly, this “fake” tension truly ruins the story for me as a reader. I wonder if publishers are more lenient on an author if he or she has published multiple books? Maybe less editing goes into author’s writing that has seen print multiple times?
If Haddix ever reads this blog, I recommend that she rework Among the Barons to fix this tragic plot hole. She could pen the story where it remains more loyal to Among the Hidden. Maybe start it off where Lee already knows he is accepted as a third child; please don’t give me pages and pages and pages of false suspense where I feel like you, as the author, fail to review your previous book’s message and knowledge that each character has. Can readers of this post sense my disappointment yet?
On a more positive note, it was refreshing to not see Mr Talbot act as a plot device for this novel. It was getting a bit predictable when Luke was thinking “I should contact Mr Talbot, he will have the answers,” in the previous books. It was nice to read a change in how the resolution of this novel progressed without a plot device.
As a writer and avid reader, I am also disappointed with Haddix’s settings. She mostly compares the location where Luke is to a maze of corridors. I think this novel could do with a bit more show and not tell, especially with the settings. For the most part, as the reader, I felt like I was being blown through different settings, without any real imagery in my head. Among the Betrayed did a much better job of setting development and painting pictures in my head as a reader.
Without knowing Haddix’s true intent makes it somewhat difficult to write about my last quarrel with this book, but I will take a stab anyway: this book leaves a reader with lots of unanswered questions, both in plot progression, and in believablity Do allow me to elaborate.
At the end, I am not sure how Luke ends up at a certain location, especially after a huge event occurs. I am not sure how a certain character suddenly changes from a rebel to obedient during the last few pages of the book. It all is a whirl. Too fast, not enough development and time spent writing transitions between events. I have lost faith in some of the character’s motives in this book as a result.
Overall, Among the Baron is Haddix’s worst book yet. Among the Brave has a lot to make up for it. If I read another piece of published trash like this, I might have to put down the series. I am sorry, you cannot have errors in your plot and suspense and still expect me to be happy that I paid 5 Canadian dollars for this book. Fix your mistakes before rushing something like this crud to print!
If you dare, give this book a read by clicking here. Maybe your reading will prop a different review? For me, this review is scathing, but “writely” so.
Do leave your commentary below. What did you think of Among the Barons? Am I committing a diatribe towards a book that is not justified? Leave it below, readers!