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The City of Ember (Books of Ember) Paperback – August 26, 2008
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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 City of Ember is now a major motion picture (releasing in October 2008) starring Bill Murray, Tim Robbins, Martin Landau, and many more. Enjoy these images from the film, and click the thumbnails to see a larger image in a new browser window.
"DuPrau’s first foray into fiction creates a realistic post-apocalyptic world. Reminiscent of Robert O'Brien's Z for Zachariah, DuPrau’s book leaves Doon and Lina on the verge of the undiscovered country and readers wanting more."
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
"Thanks to full-blooded characters every bit as compelling as the plot, Lina and Doon’s search parallels the universal adolescent quest for answers. An electric debut!"
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews
"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 likeable protagonists are not only courageous but also believably flawed by human pride. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers clamoring for the next installment."
Starred Review, Voice of Youth Advocates
"While Ember is colorless and dark, the book itself is rich with description. DuPrau uses the puzzle, suspenseful action, and lots of evil characters to entice readers into the story. They will find the teen characters believable and gutsy. Part mystery, part adventure story."
The Horn Book Magazine
"The device of a hidden letter, complete with missing words, is used with such disarming forthrightness that readers will be eagerly deciphering it right alongside Doon and Lina."
An ALA Notable Children’s Book
A Kirkus Reviews Editors’ Choice
A New York Public Library 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing Selection
From the Hardcover edition.
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Lina and Doon are 12 year olds who have just been assigned their life jobs. Lina is to work in the Pipeworks, under Ember, tending to the leaking pipes along the river. Doon is to be a messenger. Neither is happy with their jobs, and they switch. Doon wants to take a look at the ancient generator which powers their city. The generator is failing, leaving Ember with more and more blackouts. Additionally, almost everything is worn out and food is becoming scares. When Lina discovers a paper (chewed up by her baby sister), she thinks she may have discovered information on how to leave Ember.
I'm assuming this is a YA book, but it's so nice to find one where the characters aren't sarcastic and annoying. As someone who usually avoids the YA genre, this was a wonderful read. I loved the premise and the execution didn't disappoint. I feel like I was down in Ember, I could see it so clearly in my head.
The book was one of the few that rekindled my love of reading. I really enjoyed the setting and the characters. Following the teens on their discovery was interesting, as was learning how the citizens coped with day-to-day needs and difficulties. To add to the problems, the city was well past its prime and on the verge of breakdown. And of course making the bad guys of the story be self-centered out-of-touch politicians was quite believable. Lena is a very interesting character...she is very head strong, doesn't take no for an answer, and won't leave any stone unturned as she looks for the truth. She faces off again those in power several times and ultimately becomes a leader in the search for freedom.
This is a good novel for preteens on up to adults.
City of Ember is followed by The People of Sparks, The Prophet of Yonwood, and the Diamond of Darkhold.