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Book Review

Sabotaged by Margaret Peterson Haddix has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the third book in "The Missing" series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Thirteen-year-old Jonah is one of "the missing." He and several dozen other babies were stolen from their various places in history 13 years earlier. The men who kidnapped them were trying to get rich selling famous historical children. Only now have the kids begun receiving clues about their true identities. Jonah and his 11-year-old adoptive sister, Katherine, have helped others travel through history and fix the Damaged Time. In Sabotaged, time travel engineer JB helps Jonah and Katherine journey to the lost colony of Roanoke, North Carolina, in the 16th century. Their task is to return 13-year-old Andrea, a.k.a. colonist Virginia Dare, to her rightful place in history.

Almost immediately after beginning their journey through time, the kids find themselves in trouble. They've lost JB's device called an Elucidator that allows them to communicate and know the time and place in which they've arrived. They appear near a ruined city with no colonists in sight. Andrea reluctantly reveals that someone approached her before their time travel and asked her to make sure the Elucidator got lost. The mystery man promised to reunite her with her parents, who had died in a car crash a year earlier.

As the children try to get their bearings, they see two tracer boys. Tracers are the ghostly representations of what people would have been doing if time travelers hadn't interfered. The tracers are dressed like Indians, though they don't have Native American features or complexions. The tracers can't see Jonah and the girls. When the time travelers save a drowning man, they discover there is a tracer of the man as well. The tracer boys are looking after the tracer man, so it's clear they must have saved him in their original time. In order for time to return to normal, people and their tracers must become one. The time travelers attempt to get the man to reunite with his tracer, but the half-conscious man can only partially reconnect. The kids stay near the tracers in hopes of discovering their next course of action. When the man begins to mutter a few words, Andrea realizes he is her 16th-century grandfather, John White. He often painted scenes of exploratory trips, since cameras had not been invented.

The kids start finding notes left for them by someone named Second. The time travelers follow the tracers by boat to Croatoan Island, where they believe they may find the lost colonists, or at least Andrea's tracer. Jonah falls into the water when two modern boys — who clearly belong with the Indian tracers — land in their boat out of nowhere. The boys, Brendan and Antonio, reunite with their tracers on Croatoan Island. They immediately understand they were adopted by an Indian tribe, which explains their non-Native American appearances. Having joined with their tracers, the boys also remember that disease ravaged the island, killing many animals and people.

As the boys try to get off the island quickly, Jonah discovers Andrea's tracer. He realizes in the real historical account, Virginia Dare was never reunited with her grandfather. Andrea joins her tracer and convinces the tracer to go and see her grandfather before the Indians take him from the island. Suddenly, the modern day Second appears. He is really one of JB's techies, who has nicknamed himself Second Chance. He has orchestrated time changes to allow Andrea the happiness of reuniting with her grandfather. Second refuses to acknowledge that his plan could negatively change the course of history for others.

Although JB also appears and is ready to send all the kids back through time, Andrea, Brendan and Antonio decide to return to their own time period. Second creates a time ripple, which includes a nearly airtight plan for locking JB, Andrea, Brendan and Antonio in the year 1600. JB is briefly able to communicate with Jonah and Katherine. He tells them he and the others will only survive if Jonah and Katherine can right some wrongs that occur in 1611.

Christian Beliefs

John White cries out to God a few times in his delirium and mentions someone killing someone else over a Communion cup.

Other Belief Systems

As members of an Indian tribe, Brendan and Antonio's tracers talk about the Great Spirit and refer to germs as evil spirits.

Authority Roles

John White, though unconscious for most of the story, is a painter who searches for his missing loved ones. JB makes the children's safety his priority over keeping history in tact.





Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

History: The author includes a lengthy endnote about the true historical significance of the story's time, place and characters, such as John White and Virginia Dare.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 12


Margaret Peterson Haddix






Record Label



Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, a trademark of Simon & Schuster Inc.


On Video

Year Published





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