Analysis of Among the Hidden and Running Out of Time
Both novels, Among
the Hidden and Running Out of Time are examples of Contemporary Realistic Fiction,
but they both have a futuristic feel and a plot that is plausible even in our near future. It is interesting to note that
both protagonist in these stories are kept in the dark about their lives and they do not have control over their individual
circumstances because of their situations and until they learn the truth. According to Susan L. Rogers, in a School Library
Journal review, “the loss of free will is the fundamental theme” of both of these YA novels. Both of the protagonist,
Luke and Jessie, do not realize their true situation until the truth is forced upon them and then they must make life changing
Both the novels have good story lines that would
be interesting to students because they are unusual, and I found them to be credible and believable especially Among the Hidden. Even today we hear of countries that “encourage” families to only have two children
and the families are punished if they disobey the law. This story is plausible and not far removed from real life. In Running Out of Time the idea of a historic village that unknowingly helped researchers develop a group of people
that are resistant to diseases is a little less plausible, but possible. Even now we have diseases that are becoming more
and more resistant to known medicines.
The pace of these stories differs with Among the Hidden having a slow start. Haddix is developing the story and letting the reader feel the depressed
situation of Luke’s family, but it seems to last too long. Chris Donner, in a review for SF Site writes, “Haddix’s
story starts out a bit slow, with a few too many telegraphed emotional punches for my tastes. The characters were clear, but
a bit heavy and slow moving, weighed down with heavy pity that lasts for several chapters.” The story picks up when
Luke meets the other third child Jen and the climax comes at the end of the story at a frenzied pace. The novel, Running Out of Time, begins with a fast pace that is full of action and mystery and it continues through the book
until the very end when the pace slows and becomes anticlimactic and almost too realistic. The ending of Among the Hidden fits the situation of the novel and the author continues the tension felt by the characters.
I really wanted to know what would happen to Luke at the end of Among the Hidden,
but I also had a feeling of hope that he would survive.
Haddix uses contrast effectively in both novels,
but in Among the Hidden, the author uses contrast to show the reader the true characteristics
of Luke and Jen. The characters are both “shadow children”, but their
lives are completely different. Luke is from a farming family that must struggle to exist and Jen lives in the privileged
world of the “Barons”. Their differences are shown through the clothes they wear, the food they eat, the houses
they live in, and even the freedom they have. The first half of the book is just about Luke and his situation so the difference
between the two is especially surprising and unexpected. In Running Out of Time, the
author uses contrast to show how different Jessie’s world in the village is from the world outside of Clifton in the
year 1996. This contrast helps show the reader how confused and lost Jessie must have felt as she was trying to find help
for her family.
Both books were chosen as ALA Best Books for
Young Adults and I would highly recommend them to middle and high school students. I think they would also be a good choice
for reluctant readers at the high school level.
Chris. 1998. Review of Among the hidden. Science Fiction Site. Available from http://www.sfsite.com/09b/amo41.htm . Accessed 8 June 05.
Susan L. 1998. Review of Among the hidden. School Library Journal. Available from
Titlewave http://www.flr.follett.com . Accessed 8 June 05.