Among the Hidden
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Analysis: Plot Analysis
Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.
Exposition (Initial Situation)
There Goes the Neighborhood
When the novel opens, Luke Garner—who we quickly learn is an illegal third child—spends most of his days hanging at home with his mom, protected by the woods that surround his house. It might not sound like paradise, but it's a lot better than what happens next: he finds out that the woods behind their farm are being torn down to build houses for the superrich Barons. And this tells us that (1) the Government basically has supreme control over everyone's lives, and (2) Luke's secret hiding spot is about to become a lot less secret. Now we're all set up for a nice, juicy conflict.
The Girl With the Plan
After spending a lot of time essentially locked in an attic, Luke discovers that one of the new houses has a secret—a secret third child, just like him. He bucks up his courage and sneaks over to meet her, and she promptly turns Luke's life around. In their first encounter, Jen Talbot drops a little information about her plan to rally the third children and overthrow the Population Law, which … honestly doesn't like a great plan, since they're going to be going head to head with police. Murderous police. Still, the rally becomes a frequent conversation topic among the new friends, and the tension grows as the day draws closer.
The Sounds of Silence
Make that anti climax. Jen has talked up the rally so much and for so long that when Luke doesn't hear anything about it on the news, he begins to worry. Big time worry. Staking out the Talbot's house doesn't produce any answers either.
To the Death
Luke sneaks over to Jen's house where he unexpectedly meets with Mr. Talbot. And this is where he learns that the rally wasn't exactly successful. In fact, it was a spectacular failure: a failure that resulted in the death of all those kids. Yep, it seems like everything is getting ready to unravel …
And then the Population Police show up.
Goodbye Luke, Hello Lee
Mr. Talbot turns out to be surprisingly helpful and tells Luke that his only option is getting a fake I.D. That, or death—but either way, "Luke" will be no more. It only takes him a minute to make the decision, and Luke Garner becomes Lee Grant.
Resolution? Maybe. But it sounds a lot more like the set up for book #2.