The City of Ember

The City of Ember

by Jeanne DuPrau

An alternate cover edition can be found here.Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival.

Will the people of Ember listen to them?

  • Series: Book of Ember
  • Language: English
  • Category: Young Adult
  • Rating: 3.86
  • Pages: 270
  • Publish Date: 2003 by Yearling Books
  • Isbn10: 0375822747
  • Isbn13: 9780375822742

What People Think about "The City of Ember"

Maybe 18 months ago, I came out of my office to find my 5 year old son laying in the hallway reading a book. He wasn't just flipping through a picture book, either. A book with all words and no pictures. * * * About a week ago, I went on a car trip with Oot, and we listened to this book together. Good book.

The City of Ember is a young adult novel that is a fantastic allegory for spiritual awakening, though I have no idea if it was intended as such. The story is of a girl who lives in an underground and completely self-contained city created by the Builders. What we think of as the whole universe is but shadow, and further, that to enter that kingdom of heaven you must be like a child. I write these questions myself in shadow not in the condition of childishness, and with all of this, as Quakers say, a notion, i.e. not something that I have experienced, but rather something I think.

DuPrau makes a typical first-time novelist mistake throughout this book: she doesnt trust her reader to infer. The books strongest element was the setting, Ember.

Which, dont get me wrong, is totally fine; inspiration comes in every shape and form, and if a great book/movie inspired HG author Suzanne Collins to write a great series, then more power to her and more fun to us readers. The two main characters, Lina and Doon, are very real, very relatable and very likable; the story is very satisfactory, if somewhat a little slow-paced at times; the writing is very easy-reading and will never make you scratch your head in confusion; finally, the ending is great and will make you want to pick up book 2 right away.

My 12 year old son just knew I would love this book. Lina Mayfleet, twelve years old, sat "winding a strand of her long, dark hair around her finger, winding and unwinding it again and again." Doon Harrow, also twelve, "sat with his shoulder's hunched, his eyes aqueezed shut in concentration, and his hands clasped tightly together." So I'm busy marking up my paperback copy for examples to share with my own students when it becomes more than a coincidence - that I'm noticing the similarities between Ember, the city, and the Community in Lois Lowry's The Giver.

Doon and Lina had never thought of being twelve years old and getting jobs. Luckily, Lina just so happened to be a super fast runner and that's why she thought messenger would be a perfect job for her.

The biggest problem is that the entire city, society, economy, and all, feels like it was only created to give the main characters something to do with their time. A couple of people manage to catch a stick on fire and wander into the darkness outside the city with it, only to go mad when the stick inevitably burns out - and NO ONE tries any experiments with any other type of flammable substance to see which might last longer, how it might be fueled, or even think about carrying, what, maybe a back-up stick? This is why I say that the city is basically a straw-man argument - the only reason for it existing the way it does, for the people acting the way they do, is if you have pre-determined that you want to have a couple of twelve-year-old heroes who are the only ones clever enough, brave enough, and determined enough to accomplish anything at all.

Jeanne DuPrau doesn't write every minute of every day. Jeanne and Ethan get along well, though their interests are different. Ethan is not very fond of reading, for example, and Jeanne doesn't much like chasing squirrels.