Thursday, April 13, 2017

6+7 Book Club Report for April

For April's meeting of the 6+7 Book Club, 14 of us discussed Among the Hidden, the first book in a seven-book series called "Shadow Children," by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

The story is about a future dystopia in which food is scarce and a totalitarian government has put into place a population law that allows families to have only two children. The protagonist of the first book is a third child who was conceived by a farmer and his wife shortly after the law was enacted; they really wanted more children and figured the law would be a passing thing, but it turned out not to be, so their third son, Luke, has been a complete secret from the world since birth.

As the story begins, the forest around Luke's family's farm is being chopped down to make way for a massive real estate development of luxury homes designed for the "barons" (the upper class elite), so Luke's few freedoms (working in the fields or hanging out in the barn or the yard) have been further curtailed to the point where he is a prisoner in his own home, hardly daring to poke his nose out of his attic bedroom. And then one day, while looking at the neighborhood through a conveniently placed vent in the attic, Luke sees a shadowy form moving around in the house next door when he knows for a fact that none of the four family members are home, and he discovers that he's not the only shadow child in the neighborhood.

The reaction to this book was distinctly mixed. There was one absolute fan, a majority in the middle of the pack, and three who disliked the book. The fans liked the premise, and thought the characters were approachable and sympathetic, while the others felt the book was too short, and felt more like a chapter in a larger work than a book that could stand on its own, even as a part of a series. A few people stated their intention to continue reading the series, but over all, it wasn't one of the club's favorites, and got a fairly low rating of 6.25 out of 10.

Next month's book, for our last meeting of the school year, is The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman; although I wouldn't dare to anticipate reactions, I'd say that a book whose opening line is "There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife" is bound to be popular!

Since we didn't need to spend time choosing a new book (we choose September's book at a special August meeting), we went around the circle and book-talked all the books we are reading. What an eclectic group of readers we have! Soon they will get the chance to book-talk at Book Café, during the teen summer reading program on June 6!

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, May 9.