The City of Ember (Book of Ember #1) by Jeanne DuPrau (2004)
Juvenile Fiction | Dystopian
“Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness…
But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?”
pooled ink Review:
This is a book I knew and heard much about as a kid. I really wanted to read it but, well, somehow I never did. I remember tucking away the title inside of me for years always planning on getting this book one day…and then somehow I grew up and now I’m “too old” for it. Thank goodness I have good book reading buddies because one has continually sung high praises for this book that she did indeed read ages ago and lent it to me to finally, finally read. I’m inconsolably regretful that I waited so long but I am not sorry I read it now for I am not “too old.”
DuPrau has written a most fantastic tale about a once thriving city churning beneath the earth and how Lina and Doon, albeit just twelve years of age, race to solve the mystery of their world and discover a way to save the city of Ember.
Lina is a girl full of speed and spirit while Doon is of the very serious and determined sort. Together they find themselves as allies and friends when Ember begins to suffer blackouts, food shortages, and political corruption. Both of these kids are fun to read and play out a one-of-a-kind adventure that any youngster would love to join if only they could figure out a way to make dreams come true.
The story is filled with family, love, curiosity, mystery, thrill, adventure, and wonder. The creation of Ember itself is such a cleverly intriguing idea and I applaud DuPrau for writing it down for the rest of us to explore and enjoy. I must say, if I had to sum up my reading of this book in one word that word would be ‘fun.’ Although the target audience may be for middle graders or younger I still found it thrilling and charming enough to stay quite entertained and captivated trying to keep up with the enthusiastic endeavors of Lina and Doon.
I will say that I wish Doon would stop saying nothing bad will happen because he does this in different ways on several occasions and of course, things go wrong. The young boy has a lot to learn about the ways of the world but his heart and his actions align true in the nature of a twelve year old boy so filled with curiosity and purpose. That is one thing, as a reader nearly ten years Lina’s senior I found some of their choices rash, hopelessly optimistic, far too good-hearted, and just plain silly. But that being said I know for a fact that this is only because I have nearly ten years of life lessons and wisdom on these two kids and that if I was reading this book as a youngster like them then I’d have made several of the same choices and found each unexpected obstacle equally jarring.
That’s actually something to be admired in Lina and Doon. They haven’t lost their innocent goodness. They haven’t grown into a skeptical old crow like me and that makes them pleasant to read. I tend to read books in the YA grouping filled with the darkness of the world, so although The City of Ember is not exempt to lies, cheating, selfishness, terror, or cruelty it was shown through the eyes of innocents. So instead of seeing the darkness of Ember and sliding past without batting an eye or faltering in pace, it is viewed through the eyes of kids who learned right and wrong and have not yet lost their belief in those basic moral systems. They are a bit wide-eyed and innocent but they are not oblivious or dumb. They may look at things assuming goodness (innocent until proven guilty, something few people truly practice anymore) they do not shy away from hard truths, tough realities, nor the charge to do what is right and good no matter what.
If you’re ready for a rushing adventure through a city of ember filled with people who have never seen the true sky, then snatch a copy of DuPrau’s thrilling novel from the shelf of your nearest bookstore. You don’t want to miss out on the enchanting and epic tale of The City of Ember (the First Book of Ember). Be prepared for a cliffhanger at the end, though. You hardly find time to catch your breath before the pages run out and your left on the edge of something amazing.
Purchase here: The City of Ember
Similar Recommended Reads: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
Meet Jeanne DuPrau!
Jeanne DuPrau spends several hours of every day at her computer, thinking up sentences. She has this quote taped to her wall: “A writer is someone for whom writing is harder than it is for other people” (Thomas Mann).
This gives her courage, because she finds writing very hard. So many words to choose from! So many different things that could happen in a story at any moment! Writing is one tough decision after another.
But it’s also the most satisfying thing she knows how to do. So she keeps doing it. So far, she has written four novels, six books of non-fiction, and quite a few essays and stories.
Jeanne DuPrau doesn’t write every minute of every day. She also putters around in her garden. She lives in California, where it’s easy to grow everything from apples to zinnias.