Among the Betrayed
Goodreads ratings
4.07 / 5

"Among the Betrayed" Summary

By Margaret Peterson Haddix

young adult | 160 pages | Published in 2002

"Everything that had happened to Nina was real. She had real handcuffs on her wrists, real scars on her back, real fear flooding her mind. "'They're going to kill me,' Nina whispered, and it was almost a relief to finally, finally give up hope." In a society that allows no more than two children per family under penalty of death, third children are forced into hiding, or to live with false identity papers. In Among the Impostors, Nina Idi was arrested for treason for supposedly trying to trick the Population Police into arresting other students she said were illegal third children. Now she faces torture or death -- unless she agrees to betray three other imprisoned third children. Her dilemma intensifies when she meets the prisoners -- who are only ten, nine, and six. As she did so brilliantly in the Publishers Weekly best-selling Among the Hidden and in Among the Impostors, Margaret Peterson Haddix once again brings readers to a world in which nothing is as it seems -- a world in which an imprisonment leads to an adventure of mind, body, and spirit.


Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

Nina Idi is faced with a difficult choice when she must decide whether to betray her friends or face the consequences herself.


"Among the Betrayed" by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a gripping young adult novel that delves into the themes of trust, betrayal, and survival. Set in a dystopian future, the story follows the life of a young girl named Nina Idi, who struggles to navigate a world where nothing is as it seems. As Nina grapples with the consequences of her choices, she is forced to confront the harsh realities of a society where trust is a rare commodity and betrayal lurks at every corner.

Brief Synopsis

The novel is set in a future totalitarian society where the government exerts control over every aspect of citizens' lives. In this oppressive world, a shadowy organization known as the Population Police enforces strict laws to ensure the survival of the society. The story follows Nina Idi, a young girl who is marked as an illegal third child and is forced to live in hiding to escape the wrath of the Population Police.

Plot Overview and Setting

The story is set in a bleak and oppressive future society where an organization called the Population Police wields absolute power. The government strictly enforces a two-child policy, and any third children discovered are considered illegal and are subject to severe punishment. The setting is characterized by fear, surveillance, and a pervasive sense of mistrust. The narrative unfolds against the backdrop of a society where betrayal is a constant threat, and survival is a daily struggle for those living on the fringes of the law.

Main Characters

The main characters in "Among the Betrayed" include:

Nina IdiA courageous and resourceful illegal third child who is forced to live in hiding to evade the Population Police.
Mrs. TalbotA stern and enigmatic woman who oversees the detention house where Nina is imprisoned.
JasonA fellow prisoner in the detention house who forms a tenuous alliance with Nina.

Summary of Different Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1-3:

Nina, an illegal third child, is caught by the Population Police and is taken to a detention house. She meets Mrs. Talbot, the woman in charge, and Jason, another prisoner. Nina struggles to trust anyone in this oppressive environment.

Chapter 4-6:

Nina learns about the harsh realities of the detention house, where prisoners are pitted against each other in a struggle for survival. She forms a tentative alliance with Jason but remains wary of trusting anyone completely.

Chapter 7-9:

Nina uncovers a shocking betrayal within the detention house, which forces her to reassess her instincts and judgments. As the tension escalates, Nina must navigate the treacherous dynamics of the detention house to ensure her survival.

Chapter 10-12:

Nina's resilience is tested as she confronts the brutal consequences of betrayal and deception. She grapples with the moral complexities of trust and loyalty in a world where survival often comes at a steep price.

Chapter 13-15:

Nina devises a daring escape plan, driven by her unwavering determination to reclaim her freedom. As she executes her plan, she confronts unexpected challenges and risks everything to secure a chance at a better future.

Main Events

The main events in "Among the Betrayed" revolve around Nina's imprisonment in the detention house, her interactions with Mrs. Talbot and Jason, and her desperate attempt to escape. The story unfolds against the backdrop of a society where betrayal and mistrust are pervasive, and the stakes are perilously high for those who dare to defy the oppressive regime of the Population Police.

Themes and Insights


  1. Betrayal and Trust: The novel explores the corrosive impact of betrayal and the fragile nature of trust in a society rife with deception and suspicion.
  2. Survival and Resilience: Nina's journey underscores the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity, as she navigates the treacherous landscape of the detention house and confronts the harsh realities of her world.
  3. Oppression and Defiance: The story examines the oppressive nature of the totalitarian regime and the indomitable spirit of those who dare to defy its suffocating control.


  • The novel offers a poignant commentary on the consequences of unchecked power and the erosion of individual freedoms in the pursuit of societal order.
  • It underscores the enduring human capacity for hope and resilience, even in the bleakest of circumstances.

Reader's Takeaway

"Among the Betrayed" offers readers a thought-provoking exploration of trust, betrayal, and survival in a dystopian society. The novel's compelling narrative and complex characters invite readers to reflect on the enduring themes of resilience, defiance, and the redemptive power of trust in the face of overwhelming adversity.


In "Among the Betrayed," Margaret Peterson Haddix crafts a compelling narrative that immerses readers in a world where trust is a rare commodity and betrayal lurks at every turn. Through the experiences of Nina Idi, the novel invites readers to contemplate the profound implications of living in a society where survival demands unwavering resilience and the courage to defy oppressive forces. As Nina navigates the treacherous dynamics of the detention house and confronts the moral complexities of trust and betrayal, readers are drawn into a mesmerizing tale of courage, resilience, and the enduring power of hope in the face of overwhelming adversity.

Among the Betrayed FAQ

  1. What is 'Among the Betrayed' about?

    Among the Betrayed is a young adult novel that follows the story of Nina Idi, a girl who is imprisoned for being a third child in a society where families are only allowed to have two children. The book explores themes of betrayal, survival, and the struggle for freedom.

  2. Is 'Among the Betrayed' part of a series?

    Yes, 'Among the Betrayed' is the third book in the 'Shadow Children' series by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The series consists of seven books in total, each focusing on different characters and their experiences in a dystopian society.

  3. What age group is 'Among the Betrayed' suitable for?

    The 'Among the Betrayed' is generally suitable for readers in the young adult (YA) age group, typically ranging from 12 to 18 years old. However, it may also be enjoyed by older readers who appreciate dystopian fiction and themes of resilience and rebellion.

  4. Are there any trigger warnings for 'Among the Betrayed'?

    Readers should be aware that 'Among the Betrayed' contains themes of imprisonment, betrayal, and societal oppression. There are also instances of violence and emotional turmoil. It may not be suitable for readers who are sensitive to these themes.

  5. What makes 'Among the Betrayed' unique compared to other books in the series?

    In 'Among the Betrayed', the focus is on Nina Idi's personal struggle and her resilience in the face of betrayal and imprisonment. The book delves into the psychological impact of her experiences, adding a unique depth to the series.