Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Summary: Chess, Emma, and Finn Greystone, ages 12, 10, and 8, live with their mom in Ohio. One day they hear on the news that three kids in Arizona have been kidnapped. As the story unfolds, they learn that these three children have exactly the same names as them. And exactly the same birthdays. Their mom seems especially disturbed by this bizarre coincidence, and the next day she abruptly announces that she is going on a business trip and isn’t sure when she’ll return. She arranges them to stay with a woman named Mrs. Morales and her daughter, Natalie, people who are pretty much strangers to the three children. When the kids discover their mom left her computer and phone at home, and that the phone has been programmed to send texts to Mrs. Morales about the trip, they begin to suspect that their mother has disappeared and may never return. As they delve further into the mystery, they discover some horrifying secrets about their family that could put all of them–as well as Natalie and her mom–in serious danger. A cliffhanger ending paves the way for book #2. 405 pages; grades 5-8.
Pros: Like the best books by Margaret Peterson Haddix, this one is a total page-turner, keeping the reader guessing as one bizarre clue after another is revealed. Kids not quite ready for The Hunger Games may enjoy the glimpses of a dystopian world toward the end of the book.
Cons: Developing realistic characters doesn’t seem to be Haddix’s greatest strength. I found preciously cute Finn especially annoying.