The Missing (1) Found by M Peterson Haddix (January 2009, Hodder Children's Books, ISBN: 9780340970669)
It wasn't there. Then it was.
Review: Found is the first in a projected seven book series. The second part, Sent, has just been published in the US and will be out in January 2010 in the UK.
The prologue begins with Sky Trails Air employee Angela DuPre who on her first day at work at the airport witnesses the arrival of an aeroplane - out of thin air. No crew, no pilot, no flight-plan but inside there are passengers...36 babies.
Thirteen years later we meet Jonah, an adoptee, his younger sister Katherine and his friend Chip who has just moved to the neighbourhood. The upheaval to Jonah's settled life begins with the arrival of an anonymous note stating: You are one of the missing. When Chip receives the same note, his parents inform him that he too was adopted. Jonah's enquiries about his birth-parents lead his family to the FBI and that's when things really get strange with files and people appearing and disappearing before Jonah and Katherine's eyes. The file contains details of "witnesses" and "survivors". Both Jonah and Chip's names are listed under the "survivors". The second note they receive is more chilling: Beware! They're coming back to get you.
Jonah, Chip and Katherine put all their effort into tracking down the names on both lists and trying to make sense of what is going on, who is after them and why?
Found begins extremely strongly, with the X-Files style opening. After that though I found the pace to be a little slow to start with. Not much was happening until around 100 pages in, but the underlying mystery is so intriguing it pulled me through this first part, and then the story gets into high gear.
Found is aimed at younger teens I feel and having two male leads should make this series appeal to boys, but for me, it's twelve-year-old Katherine who steals the show. She's clever, brave and keen and often has the answers before Jonah can think of them. As this is a series, Found has a cliff-hanger of an ending, though at least some of the mysteries have been cleared up.
I enjoyed Found and will look out for Send next year. I liked the science-fiction angle but now I know where the babies came from, I'm not sure if my interest will be sustained over seven books. It depends on where (and when) the author takes the characters and the story.
Cover: This came as a recommendation from Chicklish. I'm not sure how enticing the cover would have been for me in a bookshop. It appears to be aimed at male readers. (On the copy I have the Margaret is shortened to M). It accurately reflects a scene in the book.
Read more about the series on Margaret Peterson Haddix's website.