Among the Hidden: Shadow Children, Book 1

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Among the Hidden: Shadow Children, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
A forbidden child hides from Population Police.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 30 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 94 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Human rights and overpopulation are reoccurring themes throughout the novel.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters fight against repressive and inhuman laws honorably.


A major child character is killed, offstage and not described.


A reference to brothers who "talk dirty."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that some kids may be disturbed by the death of a major character. Otherwise there's not much to be concerned about here.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7, 8, 10, and 12-year-old Written bymomof4anddog August 22, 2013

Great book but not appropriate for all kids.

Although I find this book a good read, my concern is that it raises the question to children.. what does population control mean? The book makes reference to a... Continue reading
Adult Written byCosette V. February 2, 2017

Review for Parents with Precocious Readers

I like to write reviews with more detail to help those like myself who have young readers who read above reading level and may or may not be ready for various b... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAmoungTheHidden September 15, 2009

Perfect! Absolutley and Positivly Perfect!

This is the best book I have EVER read!
Kid, 11 years old August 4, 2009

Aweosme Book!

Amazing! I love the book even though I'm a third child! ;) It's a great story and I think that the courage that some of the characters have is a great... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the not-so-distant future, overpopulation has led to draconian laws limiting families to no more than two children, and Population Police ruthlessly enforce the law. Thus Luke, his family's third child, has lived his entire life in hiding, and now that a new development is being built on the edge of his family's land, he can't even go into the yard anymore, nor can he go into rooms with windows, as the neighbors grow suspicious if the shades are pulled all the time.

This miserable, isolated existence is interrupted when he discovers another shadow child living in a nearby house, and risks his and his family's lives to meet her. But this other shadow, Jen, child of an official with the Population Police, is less passive about her situation -- she is organizing a protest march to try to free the shadow children.

Is it any good?

What makes this stand out among others in the dystopian genre (at least for children) is that it doesn't shy away from the bleakness or hopelessness of Luke's situation. It also doesn't avoid the logical consequences of the situation the author has set up. The first third of the book chronicles Luke's living situation, as his loving but terrified family increasingly constrict his world until he lives almost entirely alone in a windowless attic room, and readers can feel the arid claustrophobia of his life. But she does it in a way that is fascinating and suspenseful.

Along the way the author raises many issues -- none of them are simple -- which makes this a good choice for reading groups and book discussion groups. It's never clear, for instance, how real the overpopulation crisis really is, and both sides put out exaggerated propaganda that makes it hard to find the truth. There are no easy answers or pat endings here.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about overpopulation and human rights.

  • What can be done about overpopulation?

  • What do you think should be done when the rights of the individual and society are in conflict?

Book details

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