When their mom goes missing, three siblings chase her to a parallel world to reunite their family in this first of a new series by Haddix (Children of Jubilee, 2018, etc.).
Sixth-grader Chess Greystone and his younger siblings, Emma and Finn, discover their widowed mom in shock when they arrive home from school one day. A startling news broadcast has reported the kidnapping of three children who, against all odds, share their exact same first names, middle names, and birthdays. If that weren’t unsettling enough, the next day their mom insists she must leave on a sudden business trip. The Greystone siblings realize something is horribly wrong when they find their mom’s phone and laptops left behind at their house. With the help of new friend Natalie Mayhew, in whose mother’s care they find themselves, they follow a trail of clues and secret codes to an alternate world that connects their mom’s sudden disappearance to their missing doppelgängers. Maintaining suspense from the beginning to the cliffhanger ending, Haddix builds momentum with short chapters that shift among the three third-person perspectives of the Greystone children. Along with an exciting science-fiction mystery, the story touches on real-world topics such as divorce, grief, abusive relationships, government corruption, and transitioning from elementary to middle school. Apart from background characters, the cast is predominantly white, with the possible exception of Natalie, whose mother is cued Latinx.
A high-stakes adventure full of teamwork with a multifaceted mystery and complex themes. (Science fiction. 8-12)