Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Review: The City of Ember

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A Book Review of:

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau


Lina Mayfield and Doon Harrow have turned 12 and are finally ready to take on jobs as adults in the City of Ember.  Ember constantly fights darkness, its only source of light coming from the street and building lamps that come on during the day, and which are powered by a huge generator deep underground. But the lights in Ember flicker menacingly, the supplies seem to be running low, and the threat of permanent darkness looms over the citizens.  One day Lina comes across somethign that could provide some clue that could save them all, but she needs help figuring out how to crack the code and save her the people or her city.
DuPrau, J. (2004). The city of Ember. New York, NY: Yearling.

A powerful book that will make the reader step back and appreciate what we often take for granted in this world: the sun. In a world lit only by a river-powered generator that is starting to fail, and limited resources and supplies, the citizens of Ember live in perfect ignorance and perfect fear-- ignorance of how to survive with the generator, or even how it really operates-- and fear that when it does their entire world will go dark. This dystopian (think utopian-gone-wrong) society makes the reader stop and think about how powerful both knowledge and ignorance can truly be. Lina and Doon prove to be incredibly strong, and very believable characters-- full of tenacity and courage that gives them the gumption to look into solving the city's problems on their own, as the mayor seems to be as clueless as everyone else.  Full of adventure (and great role models), as well as a cryptic message that is fun to try to solve on your own, this book is a fast and delightful read. The paperback edition also has a chapter from the next book in the series, The People of Sparks, if you want a quick glance into the next story.

Professional Reviews:

"This promising debut is set in a dying underground city. Ember, which was founded and stocked with supplies centuries ago by “The Builders,” is now desperately short of food, clothes, and electricity to keep the town illuminated. Lina and Doon find long-hidden, undecipherable instructions that send them on a perilous mission to find what they believe must exist: an exit door from their disintegrating town. In the process, they uncover secret governmental corruption and a route to the world above. Well-paced, this contains a satisfying mystery, a breathtaking escape over rooftops in darkness, a harrowing journey into the unknown and cryptic messages for readers to decipher. The setting is well-realized with the constraints of life in the city intriguingly detailed. The likable protagonists are not only courageous but also believably flawed by human pride, their weaknesses often complementing each other in interesting ways. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers clamoring for the next installment. (Fiction. 9-13)"
[Review of the book The city of Ember, by J. DuPrau]. (2003, May 15). Kirkus' Reviews. Retrieved from http://www.kirkusreviews.com
"In her electric debut, DuPrau imagines a post-apocalyptic underground world where resources are running out. The city of Ember, "the only light in the dark world," began as a survival experiment created by the "Builders" who wanted their children to "grow up with no knowledge of a world outside, so that they feel no sorrow for what they have lost." An opening prologue describes the Builders' intentions—that Ember's citizens leave the city after 220 years. They tuck "The Instructions" to a way out within a locked box programmed to open at the right time. But the box has gone astray. The story opens on Assignment Day in the year 241, when 12-year-olds Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow draw lots for their jobs from the mayor's bag. Lina gets "pipeworks laborer," a job that Doon wants, while Doon draws "messenger," the job that Lina covets, and they trade. Through their perspectives, DuPrau reveals the fascinating details of this subterranean community: as Doon repairs leaks deep down among the Pipeworks, he also learns just how dire the situation is with their malfunctioning generator. Meanwhile, the messages Lina carries point to other sorts of subterfuge. Together, the pair become detectives in search of the truth—part of which may be buried in some strange words that were hidden in Lina's grandmother's closet. Thanks to full-blooded characters every bit as compelling as the plot, Lina and Doon's search parallels the universal adolescent quest for answers. Readers will sit on the edge of their seats as each new truth comes to light. Ages 10-13.

[Review of the book The city of Ember, by J. DuPrau]. (2003, March 10). Publisher's Weekly. Retrieved from  http://www.publishersweekly.com


Create a display of books for teens of dystopian societies and create a booklist.  It's a very popular trend in young adult literature and there are lots of books to choose from, including (but not limited to!):

The Giver by Lois Lowry
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Maze Runner by
Feed by M.T. Anderson
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

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