The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

December 15, 2009
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Ever wonder what it would be like if you lived in fear that all the lights in your world would go out? Well, Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow lived with this fear daily. These children, about our age, lived in a city called Ember. It was the only human settlement and existed in total darkness except for the great floodlamps that gave light to the city. Nowadays, the lights are flickering and the food is going scarce. Jeanne DuPrau made me feel like I was a part of the city of Ember and going through the crisis with them.

The story begins 200 years prior when Ember was first being constructed. “The Builders” know that the city will not last forever so they left instructions in a special box. But from mayor to mayor and year to year, the instructions got lost. No one had a clue what was in the box so no one was especially concerned.

When we first meet Lina and Doon they are at their graduation ceremony. As tradition in Ember, the graduating students draw a slip of paper from a hat to decide the job they will be doing for the rest of their lives. Lina desperately wants to be a messenger; she loves to run. Doon wants to solve the problem with the pipeworks. Lina draws “Pipeworks Laborer” and Doon draws “Messenger”. Naturally, they switch.

During the first week on their jobs, both kids learn secrets to Ember that they never would have found out otherwise. Doon finds the Generator, the power source that runs the city. His goal was to fix it but he can hardly understand how it works. Lina has to deliver coded messages between the mayor and an odd man called Looper. She feels it is her duty to figure out the messages. The narrator of this book stresses how they both have a passion for finding out how to fix Ember.

Lina’s home life is very different from her job where she gets to be free and run around the city. She has to take care of her old, loony grandmother and Poppy, her little sister. I feel that Lina doesn’t mind this life. One day, her grandmother is tearing the whole house apart looking for what she calls “the box”. Remember, by this time in Ember, everyone has forgotten about the instructions. Also in that day, Lina finds Poppy teething on a scrap of paper with some kinds of letters on it. She thinks it is something important.

Doon and Lina are slowly learning the past and what is happening around them in Ember. Doon finds a secret door in the pipeworks. Lina keeps finding little pieces of paper that fit together like a puzzle. You can feel the sense of excitement in this part of the book when all the answers are at the tips of the kid’s fingers.

The puzzle Lina finally solves is the instructions. She and Doon make plans to escape the city. But they both have things holding them back from doing so. When tragedy strikes and Lina’s grandmother dies, she has no more reasons for pushing back the escape. I had an overwhelming sense of sadness in this part. I could just imagine having to go to a neighbor’s house and sleeping in a foreign room because your only guardian left has passed away.

The instructions tell the children that the escape route is in the pipeworks. When following the directions, they uncover the terrible secret to the coded messages between the mayor and Looper that threatens their life among Ember. They have no choice but to flee the city anyhow. Doon risked his life to save both Lina and Poppy numerous times during the journey. But it paid off in the end.

Doon, Lina, and Poppy went on the adventure that changed so many people’s lives forever. I won’t spoil the ending, but you will never expect it! I cannot wait to read the rest of the series to see how the people of Ember respond to this amazing discovery. The City of Ember characters became my best friends; I felt like I knew them very well. This book is a very fantasy book because there is no possible way that someone could live underground neither an entire city. This book is now one of my favorites!





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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

Sweedie said...
Jan. 17, 2010 at 6:34 pm
The author did a wonderful job of making the books' main characters ones that I would find interesting! The book obviously held her interest, and that piqued my curiousity as well! Good job!
 
Gramps said...
Jan. 12, 2010 at 5:25 pm
Excellent review, makes me want to read the book.
 
auntie Ellen said...
Jan. 12, 2010 at 9:49 am
Wonderful review, makes me want to read it and the series. Will try to obtain for my own granddaughter.
 
just me said...
Jan. 12, 2010 at 9:16 am
Great review!
 
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