Among the Enemy
(2005), a young adult science fiction novel by Margaret Peterson Haddix, is the sixth in Haddix's seven-book Shadow Children
series set in a non-specific dystopian society that only allows two children to each family; any additional children are called "shadow children" and are forbidden. Haddix is a New York Times
bestselling author and has written more than twenty-five books for children and young adults. Her work has won several awards, including the International Reading Association Children’s Book Award and the American Library Association Best Book Award.
In the dystopian world of the Shadow Children
series, overpopulation has strained the environment to the breaking point, resulting in extremely limited resources, such as food and water. In a bid to get the population under control, the government has enacted a strict two-child limit per family. This limit is brutally enforced by the Population Police, who utilize raids and spies to flush out families that may be hiding additional children. These illegal children, known as "shadow children," do not have the right to exist, according to the government. If found, they are sentenced to death.
In Among the Betrayed
, the third book in the series, ten-year-old Matthias, nine-year-old Percy, and six-year-old Alia are shadow children raised by a homeless priest. The priest has taught them how to survive as shadow children: how to live on the streets, how to find fake IDs to pose as legal children, etc. However, life is still dangerous for kids like them, and now they have been imprisoned.
Nina, a teenage girl and an illegal shadow child herself, is put into their cell. She is meant to convince the trio to confess to being shadow children in exchange for her own freedom. However, she befriends them, instead, and the four escape together. Using fake IDs, Matthias, Percy, and Alia enroll at Niedler School, a boarding school, while Nina goes undercover to join the Population Police, working against them from the inside.
In Among the Enemy
, Niedler School is raided in the middle of the night by the Population Police, and all the students are loaded into trucks. When he overhears that they are being taken to work camps and that "the little ones won't last long," Matthias finds a nail and uses it to puncture the truck's tire. The truck veers out of control and hits a tree, allowing Matthias, Percy, and Alia to escape. However, Alia is badly hurt in the crash, and Percy is shot as they flee.
Matthias hides his friends in an abandoned cabin in the woods and runs to fetch Mr. Talbot, the leader of a rebel group working against the Population Police. As they are returning to the cabin, the Population Police arrive, and a gunfight ensues between the two groups. During the commotion, Matthias, separated from the rebels, saves the life of Tiddy, one of the police officers.
Tiddy takes Matthias back to the police headquarters, and as a thank you for saving him, helps him enlist in the Population Police. Since Tiddy is a favorite of the commanding officer, Matthias finds himself the recipient of much favor; he pretends to enjoy the special treatment in order not to arouse suspicions. He continues to worry about Percy and Alia until Tiddy returns from a mission to that area and reports that he burned everything to the ground.
Believing his friends are dead, Matthias mourns them deeply, but because Tiddy is mysteriously poisoned to death at the same time, the other officers believe that Matthias is mourning Tiddy. Soon after, Matthias is reunited with Nina, who is still working undercover at the Population Police. He decides to join her mission of taking down the police from the inside. One day, Matthias accompanies the commander to a warehouse full of food and ID cards. He also overhears the commander discussing some of their plans to capture shadow children.
Matthias tries to sneak out to tell Nina what he knows, but he is caught by Mike, a Population Police officer. However, Mike does not turn in him in. Instead, he reveals that he is working as a double agent between the rebels and the police and has previously helped Nina on several occasions. Matthias, Mike, and Nina go to the warehouse and steal the goods, which are distributed to hungry families and other shadow children in hiding. Then they burn the warehouse.
Matthias goes to the rebel group, and there he finds that Percy and Alia are alive and well. They have been living with Mr. Talbot, who rescued them from the woods. Overjoyed, Matthias decides that he will not return to the Population Police, but will stay with his friends while he figures out what he wants to do with his life. The story continues in the final book in the series, Among the Free