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The City of Ember Paperback – September 25, 2012
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The city of Ember, the only light in a vast world of darkness, is dying, and two young teens might be the only ones who can find the way out of their darkening town—if they can escape the machinations of a corrupt mayor. DuPrau’s well-received dystopian and postapocalyptic middle-grade novel is ably adapted into graphic-novel form by Middaugh and Asker. Middaugh is not afraid to cut as needed, removing scenes and characters with the hand of a screenwriter. The result is a streamlined work that moves quickly while retaining the heart of the original story. Fans of the novel may notice the loss of some of the drama in the foreshortened scenes, but readers new and old will appreciate the muted colors of Asker’s artwork, which clearly shows the dinginess of Ember and the generic quality of people who have bred past specific races. The main characters are drawn young, but their maturity should help the graphic novel, like the book, cross over from elementary- to middle-school appeal. Grades 4-7. --Snow Wildsmith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Starred Review, School Library Journal, November 2012:
“Lina and Doon have spent their entire lives surrounded by darkness. Lina is an optimist and a dreamer who just knows there is something beyond the city of her birth. Doon is much more practical. He knows that if he can just get a good look underground, he can fix the city's constant blackout problem. A chance encounter on Assignment Day allows the two children to meet and exchange jobs, essentially giving the other what they've always wanted. They start to unearth an evil plot by the city's obese and greedy mayor to steal away precious resources from the people who live there. Using clues left behind by Lina's late grandmother, they travel beneath Ember's tunnels in a desperate attempt to find a way out. Based on DuPrau's novel (Random, 2003), the story brings the city of Ember to life using many muted yellows and earth tones. While the interior vantage points from Lina's and Doon's perspectives make Ember's public buildings and homes seem large, advanced exterior shots surrounded entirely in black give readers a sense of just how isolated Ember is. Lina's wonder and Doon's frustration are easily visible through Asker's skill in detailing facial expressions, helping to visually elevate a story literally besieged by shadows. Dystopian stories can be dark, and this one is literally so, but its ultimately hopeful message will resonate.”
Booklist, October 15, 2012:
"The city of Ember, the only light in a vast world of darkness, is dying and two young teens might be the only ones who can find the way out of their darkening town--if they can escape the machinations of a corrupt mayor. DuPrau's well-received dystopian and postapocalyptic middle-grade novel is ably adapted into graphic-novel form by Middaugh and Asker. The result is a streamlined work that moves quickly while retaining the heart of the original story. Readers new and old will appreciate the muted colors of Asker's artwork, which clearly shows the dinginess of Ember and the generic quality of people who have bred past specific races."
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2012:
"Effective use of light and shadow in the art give this graphic adaptation of the 2003 novel a properly spooky look. The tale is told in a visual, cinematic way with an admixture of quick reaction shots and wordless action sequences that allow readers to race along almost as fast as they can turn the pages. Asker's penumbral scenes underground and broad, grassy Eden above are strongly atmospheric and depict both settings and the clearly delineated cast (particularly the grossly corpulent Mayor) in tellingly crisp detail."
From the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
Until their 12th year, the children of the City of Ember go to school. But at the end of that year, they are assigned the jobs they will do for years after, perhaps to the end of their lives. Lina yearns to be a Messenger, running free in the streets, learning the secrets of the city. Doon wants desperately to be an electrician's assistant or a pipeworker, because he dreams of fixing the ancient, failing generators of the city.
When each receives the assignment the other wants, they switch jobs, and begin a conspiracy that will not end until they learn how to save the entire city. Along the way, they solve an ancient puzzle, defeat the greed and subterfuge of the Mayor and his minions, and discover a much wider world than either had ever dreamed existed.
When I read children's literature, I look for more than a tale well told. Juvenile science fiction is not hard to come by, especially today in the age of Harry Potter. But fiction that lauds heroism (particularly the kind of courage which every child will have an opportunity to demonstrate), extolls the value of friendship, and shows when adult precepts and rules are worthwhile, and how to tell when they are not - that is uncommon. (Those qualities form the foundation of the Harry Potter stories, too, and explain the widespread appeal of the boy wizard and his friends.)
The City of Ember has that same appeal. Doon and Lina are courageous; they do things children would do, yet also show judgement, persistence and intelligence. These are kids who love their parents, and still see that they must take extraordinary steps outside the regimented life they have led. In the end, they do save their city, and if they do not battle great evil, they do encounter and overcome the kind of petty nastiness that is far more common in the world.
On Kindle, the book loses none of its original charm, with the possible exception of the maps and notes. Where these extend across the page, they are difficult to enjoy, even in Zoom mode.
The book works best in tandem with its sequel, The People of Sparks: The Second Book of Ember (Books of Ember). Together, they are an interesting story - even for an adult. I recommend it highly for boys and girls who want something better than comic-book heroes and video-game battles, and for readers who are no longer children, but still yearn toward the hero we can each become.
It actually did. I was curious to see why the "Builders" would go to such extreme lengths to have a society live on the basis of a lie, hoping they would somehow make it to the world above. It seemed like a far-fetched idea at the beginning of the book, but as it continued I easily suspended belief.
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II. The Characters: Could I Relate to Them?
Absolutely. I absolutely loved Lina, Doon (can't figure out how his name is pronounced lol), her grandmother, and Poppy. I do feel the woman she ends up moving in with could've been fleshed out more (forgot her name), but overall the characters had "weight" to them.
This book, while for children, was a great read because the characters not only behaved as children, but took on adult responsibilities as Ember dictated. I loved seeing Lina as a responsible mother figure for her mother, but also child enough to buy the colored pencils.
Doon was such a lovable character. He honestly feels like the one person every child wants that believes their crazy/outlandish ideas and listens. I felt for him, related to his anger he felt and how he wanted to be taken seriously. I feel in so many ways I am like Doon and really loved his story.
Grandmother was an absolute joy, though her exit from the book did seem sudden and underdeveloped. I liked her madness; it seemed real and added a certain suspense to the novel.
Overall, this book is a very solid read.
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III. The Plot: Was It Well Paced?
Absolutely! I was frustrated because I didn't have much time to commit to this book initially, but I was finally able to sit down and get into it (on March 6, 2015) it finished it that day! This book has no lags, isn't necessarily action packed, but makes use of every sentence.
This book was refreshing and warm. I felt like the author wrote it with her heart, body and soul; if I had read this as a child, I am sure it would've been one of my favorites. I mean, I'm an adult and I love this book!
The alternative POV's are executed perfectly in this book. In some books, actually in many current YA books, can be tedious and gimmicky. The dual-narrative in this book is necessary to tell two different stories about two people who have the audacity to pay attention and hope for more.
This book is a new favorite of mine.
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IV. World Building: Did I "Get" It?
There were some plot holes, but I figure they will be answered in the second book. Overall, I understood the society of Ember and have a general idea of how it works. It would've been nice to get the reasoning for the jobs in Ember, along with the significance of kids starting work at age 12, but these weren't major issues of mine. I don't understand how Doon and Lina were able to see Ember from above, but the people of Ember couldn't see the sky far above them. Also, if they can drop a note into Ember, how is it rain or other things don't fall into the city?
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V. The Ending: Did It Make Sense?
It did. This is the kind of book that makes you want to read the next one. I wanted to know more about Lina's caregiver, but the story line didn't go that way; I can't wait to see what happens in book two!
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This is a very solid read that not only left me smiling, but has me anxious to read the next book in the series!
I highly recommend!
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