Monday, September 5, 2011

Found (Margaret Peterson Haddix)

(The Missing series, Book 1)
Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster
Fiction, YA Sci-Fi
***+ (Okay/Good)

DESCRIPTION: 13-year-old Jonah always knew he was adopted, but never thought to wonder about his birth parents until he received the letter. In a plain envelope, without a return address, it claimed he was one of the "Missing." He brushes it off as a bad prank - he is, after all, in seventh grade, and some of his classmates can be jerks - but then a second note arrives: "Beware! They're coming back to get you!" When his best friend Chip, who never knew he was adopted, receives the same letter, it suddenly isn't funny anymore.
While Chip becomes obsessed with digging for answers, joined by Jonah's younger sister Katherine (a sixth-grade pain who never lets go of whatever she's sunk her teeth into), Jonah himself nothing to do with it... not even when the trail leads them to the FBI, a government conspiracy, altered realities, and many more adopted children all living in the same area. Unlike Chip, he always had a happy home; he doesn't want to be part of what sounds more and more like a bad Hollywood thriller. But, even if Jonah won't search for the truth, that won't stop the terrible truth from finding him.

REVIEW: I found Haddix's Shadow Children books (the two I read, at least) reasonably entertaining, so when I found this book clearance-priced, I figured it'd be worth a try. Jonah started out a reasonable protagonist, but I soon tired of his willful ignorance; if the reader's window to the world deliberately keeps closing the blinds because it doesn't want to see what's outside, it doesn't make for a great reading experience. The plot advances in spite of, not because of, his actions; both Chip and Katherine make far more interesting characters, investing themselves fully in the mystery. Maybe it's because of this, but the clues to the conspiracy feel random and more than a little convenient to the plot. The last 80-odd pages compensate by moving almost too quickly, concluding by hurtling the reader off the edge of a cliffhanger. The ending, at least, pulled things together reasonably, with enough originality for the extra half-star in the ratings. Overall, Found read fast, and I've killed afternoons in far worse books.

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