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The City of Ember (The First Book of Ember) Paperback – May 25, 2004


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Frequently Bought Together

The City of Ember (The First Book of Ember) + The People of Sparks: The Second Book of Ember (Books of Ember) + The Prophet of Yonwood (Ember, Book 3)
Price for all three: $17.03

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Series: Books of Ember (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; 1st edition (May 25, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375822747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375822742
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (967 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It is always night in the city of Ember. But there is no moon, no stars. The only light during the regular twelve hours of "day" comes from floodlamps that cast a yellowish glow over the streets of the city. Beyond are the pitch-black Unknown Regions, which no one has ever explored because an understanding of fire and electricity has been lost, and with it the idea of a Moveable Light. "Besides," they tell each other, "there is nowhere but here" Among the many other things the people of Ember have forgotten is their past and a direction for their future. For 250 years they have lived pleasantly, because there has been plenty of everything in the vast storerooms. But now there are more and more empty shelves--and more and more times when the lights flicker and go out, leaving them in terrifying blackness for long minutes. What will happen when the generator finally fails?

Twelve-year-old Doon Harrow and Lina Mayfleet seem to be the only people who are worried. They have just been assigned their life jobs--Lina as a messenger, which leads her to knowledge of some unsettling secrets, and Doon as a Pipeworker, repairing the plumbing in the tunnels under the city where a river roars through the darkness. But when Lina finds a very old paper with enigmatic "Instructions for Egress," they use the advantages of their jobs to begin to puzzle out the frightening and dangerous way to the city of light of which Lina has dreamed. As they set out on their mission, the haunting setting and breathless action of this stunning first novel will have teens clamoring for a sequel. (Ages 10 to 14) --Patty Campbell --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-7. Ember, a 241-year-old, ruined domed city surrounded by a dark unknown, was built to ensure that humans would continue to exist on Earth, and the instructions for getting out have been lost and forgotten. On Assignment Day, 12-year-olds leave school and receive their lifetime job assignments. Lina Mayfleet becomes a messenger, and her friend Doon Harrow ends up in the Pipeworks beneath the city, where the failing electric generator has been ineffectually patched together. Both Lina and Doon are convinced that their survival means finding a way out of the city, and after Lina discovers pieces of the instructions, she and Doon work together to interpret the fragmented document. Life in this postholocaust city is well limned--the frequent blackouts, the food shortage, the public panic, the search for answers, and the actions of the powerful, who are taking selfish advantage of the situation. Readers will relate to Lina and Doon's resourcefulness and courage in the face of ominous odds. Sally Estes
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Jeanne DuPrau is the author of The New York Timesbestseller The City of Ember and its companion The People of Sparks. She lives in Menlo Park, California, and drives a hybrid car that runs on a combination of gas and electricity.

Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book to anyone of any age.
E. E. Mickelson
Also the way the book was written, I felt like I was inside the story and living it along with the characters.
ChristineMM
Read this book and find out what Doon and Lina do about their jobs, and what happens to the City of Ember...
Michelle Nixon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

187 of 202 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Appleseed VINE VOICE on August 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
Plot descriptions have already been done, so I'll offer my commentary.

The (barely) three page prologue sets a splendid dramatic tension for the story. We know that something is afoot, that there is more to Ember than Ember, and that empowers us, to a certain extent - like when you're watching a movie and you know something that the characters don't.

We see the development of this through the eyes of two twelve year olds, both very different children. Doon has a temper and is rather sullen, and Lina is a bundle of hope and joy. But their depth goes beyond that. These are three-dimensional characters, a rarity in children's books.

Also rare is the sturdy, clear writing. It never felt rushed, always felt poised. The only thing that wasn't handled with perfection was humor. I should have laughed when Doon threw a shoe heel and it hit his father in the ear, but I didn't. But that's OK. Eoin Colfer can be funny, and Ms. DuPrau can simply be a better writer.

I found a few plot points strained: 1) Lina being the great-great-great whatever of one of the mayor's mentioned in the prologue; 2) Her own grandmother's mad search for something that now, in her dotage, she remembers is of the utmost importance; and 3) Poppy getting her hands on the thing that is important and rendering it nearly indecipherable.

But those are minor points. They exist to move the story from one point to another, and the story isn't really about the discovery of the Instructions for Egress, it's about the city of Ember itself, how its inhabitants have adjusted to living in a city where there is no light after nine (because the only light the city has is electricity and it knows nothing of the Sun), deciphering the Instructions for Egress, and the action of egress itself.
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89 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Johannes on September 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The city of Ember is in trouble, but the complacent citizens seem to ignore the food shortages and frequent blackouts. The Builders, when they created the city some 241 years ago, made provisions for its citizens in the form of a note called "The Instructions." Unfortunately, The Instructions were not handed down through the generations as they were supposed to be, and suddenly 12-year old Lina, a city Messenger, has discovered them. After trying to tell her friends and even the Mayor about the discovery of the partially destroyed Instructions, Lina turns to a one-time school friend, Doon, a worker in the underground Pipeworks, whom she believes will understand their importance. But what can two children do with such important information, and who would even believe them?
The City of Ember is a clever novel which tells the unique story of two unintentional heroes who fight the status quo in order to bring hope to their city. The descriptions of the world of Ember are fascinating, leaving the reader to appreciate the incredible imagination of first-time novelist Jeanne DuPrau. The narrator thoughtfully informs us of the setting-the unusual and self-contained world of Ember-slowly throughout the novel, and not all at once in the first chapter. It's only in chapter 8 that we even realize that there are no animals in Ember and the words "heaven" and "boat" have no known meaning. The characters are outstandingly original yet touchingly familiar in their pre-pubescent views of the adult world. The deaths of Lina's parents and then custodial grandmother create a sympathy for her that causes us to, all the more, wish for her triumph.
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Vampyress on March 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I read this book straight through in one sitting, because I simply couldn't put it down. It was quite simply one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read - I place it in the ranks of Pullman's His Dark Materials.
Its deceptively simple writing style builds a vivid world around you as you read, and hurtles you headlong into the story - and promptly embeds the characters inextricably in your heart. The main character, Lina, is as beguiling as they come - spirited, determined, and far, far too nosy. Her friend Doon is adorably scowly and moody, her grandmother delightfully batty, and the mayor of the town so vividly painted that by the time he'd finished his third sentence he stood fully formed in my mind. Although characters aren't this book's only strength...
The plot played out almost like a song, lyrical and swaying, full of the stuff of life. I was filled with humor, curiosity, terror and joy in rapid succession, only to start the cycle again at the next turn of the page - and by the end of the book I must confess I was a bit misty eyed. And, without spoiling anything, I'll say that the last couple of paragraphs filled me with bubbling anticipation, and now I think I'll explode if I don't find out what happens soon!
Come on, Duprau, give us the next book!
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm working as hard as I possibly can to become the number one expert in post-apocalyptic children's books. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it. In the course of my futuristic/distopia-laden reading list, I found that I would be amiss if I didn't read Jeanne DuPrau's 2003 popular puppy, "City of Ember". Drawing on elements from books as widely divergent as Lois Lowry's, "The Giver" to Neal Shusterman's less well-known, "Downsiders", the book contains an interesting look into the life of a community that has forgotten for 200 some years that it's living in a bunker.

As every good schoolchild in Ember knows, their city, "is the only light in the dark world. Beyond Ember, the darkness goes on forever in all directions". In a town lit solely by electric lights, the people of Ember know relatively little about the city's history. They know that it was created two hundred some years ago by the Builders and was provided with everything the people might need. But only recently has this small civilization become imperiled by its inability to be self-sufficent. Power outages result in the lights going out periodically with total terrifying darkness sweeping the land. Food and other supplies seem to be running scarce and Ember is becoming victim to hoarders and thieves. Young Lina and Doon seem to be the only people in town who want to find a way out of Ember, if it's at all possible. When Lina's grandmother unwittingly unearths ancient instructions for leaving the city, it's up to the two children to go where no one else in Ember has ever gone. Over the river and into the light.

In many ways, "The City of Ember" reminded me of "Noah's Castle" by John Rowe Townsend.
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