Saturday, September 13, 2008

Among the Barons by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Among the Barons

Among the Barons
by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Trade Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Aladdin
First Released: 2004

Source: A friend gave the book to me

Back Cover Blurb:
Luke Garner, an illegal third child, spent his first twelve years in hiding. For the past four months Luke has lived among others, using the identity of Lee Grant, at the Hendricks School for Boys. But just as things are finally starting to go right, Lee's little brother Smits arrives at the school and Luke finds himself caught in a tangle of lies that gets more complex with every passing day.

Can Luke trust Smits to keep his secret? And can he trust Smits's menacing bodyguard, Oscar?

I suppose this would qualify as a science fiction middle-grade book. The premise is that, due to famine, the president has become a dictator and has passed a law that couples can only have two children. Luke is a third child and lived most of his life in hiding. Several books back, he was given the identity of a legal boy who died. Now this boy's parents regret giving use of their son's name to another, and Luke is in danger of being forced back into hiding.

The world-building was okay. The pacing was good, and Luke and Smits were interesting. (The other characters were very sketchy, but these two boys were the main characters.) There was no sex, cussing, or magic. Overall, I'd recommend this as "a good, clean fun" novel.

Excerpt: Chapter One
"Hey, L.! Mr. Hendricks wants to see you!"

Such a summons would have terrified Luke Garner only a few months earlier. When he'd first come to Hendricks School for Boys, the thought of having to talk to any grown-up, let alone the headmaster, would have turned him into a stammering, quaking fool desperately longing for a place to hide.

But that was back in April, and this was August. A lot had happened between April and August.

Now Luke just waved off the rising tide of "ohh's" from his friends in math class.

"What'd you do, L.? Have you been sneaking out to the woods again?" his friend John taunted him.

"Settle down, class," the teacher, Mr. Rees, said mildly. "You may be excused, Mr., uh, Mr..."

Luke didn't wait for Mr. Rees to try to remember his name. Names were slippery things at Hendricks School anyway. Luke, like all his friends, was registered under a different name from what he'd grown up with. So it was always hard to know what to call people.

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