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The City of Ember: The First Book of Ember Hardcover – May 13, 2003
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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
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
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!
Most recent customer reviews
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This book takes place in the future the year is 241 and in the City of Ember everything is old and dark, soon the lights are going to go completely...Read more