The City of Ember, Review

8 Jul

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Plot: In the year 241, twelve-year-old Lina trades jobs on Assignment Day to be a Messenger to run to new places in her decaying but beloved city, perhaps even to glimpse Unknown Regions. This is about two young heroes who attempt to solve an ancient mystery in time to prevent their underground city from being swallowed by darkness. The City of Ember was built over 200 years ago, deep below the earth, where the destruction of a mass-scale disaster couldn’t reach it. Equipped with a massive generator and vast supplies, the people of Ember have thrived happily for generations — but the city wasn’t meant to be lived in forever. The generator is breaking down and the supplies are running out, but two centuries in isolation have robbed the Emberites of their knowledge — nobody knows how the electric lights work anymore, and nobody understands that there’s something beyond the city besides darkness. Nobody, that is, besides Lina  and Doon , two twelve-year-olds who still have the hope that everyone else has lost to ignorance and apathy — not to mention a sheet of instructions left by the Builders themselves explaining how to leave the city. But the 200-year-old paper is falling apart, and pieces are missing. So with the lights threatening to flicker out for the last time and leave Ember in darkness forever, Lina and Doon set out on an adventure through the streets, sewers, and dark caverns of Ember to put the pieces back together. To solve the mystery, they’ll have to get inside the Builders’ heads, and avoid the grasp of corrupt Mayor Cole, who wants to keep Ember the way it is — no matter what the cost.

Lina and Doon were childhood friends who grew apart, but the mission of putting together a secret message found in a box but chewed up by Lina’s little sister reminds them of why they became friends years ago.  The City of Ember has prescribed times of light and dark, at 9PM all the lights go out and at 6AM they come back on.  All citizens receive a job assignment when they are 12 by picking them from a hat.  Some work at the pipe works, some work with electricity, some go to the green house, others are messengers and some work in the store room and so on.  Lina longs to be a messenger, but gets a job below ground as a pipe worker; by trading with Doon they both start to get a new view of the city.  The shortages that are coming about in the storehouses, the flickering of the lights, the sicknesses and failed crops in the greenhouse start suspicions that the city is failing.  Then Lina finds a message in a box, a message her grandmother is looking for but unable to find with her failing memory. Unfortunately Poppy, her two year old sister, finds it first and mangles it up.  Lina can’t get anyone but Doon to take the message seriously.

The children work together to find a way to solve the riddle and save the city while dealing with some society members who have been hoarding supplies and want to keep the status quo.

Would you recommend this book? Yes.

4 stars

–Jill

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