Sometimes I like to take a break between books in a series to really be aware of each book as I read it. I regret that when I first read through the Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay, I made the mistake of not slowing down to fully enjoy the story’s unfolding. Because of it I kind of burnt out and didn’t love it as much as I did on a second, slower reading a year later. I did the same with the Harry Potter books and with Bone, for that matter. I just get so excited!
So when I started reading The City of Ember and realized how great is was, I took a break and did not read The People of Sparks right away. Currently reading Sparks, and sucked back into the action right away, I want to post a belated review of The City of Ember (I also love the idea of a belated review; there is so much that I have read and truly enjoyed that I still recommend to people. I also like the idea of writing a review even years after reading the book as a way to see how that book has affected me after such a period of time. If I’m still eager to review a title after a few years, it must have had an impact on me. What was that impact and what makes that books still a great read?)
So, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau:
I was a nut for the setting of Ember; a small city pitch black except for hundreds of spaced floodlamps, surrounded on all sides by Unknown Regions—nothingness. This tentative little city is made more vulnerable as the reader finds out that there are only so many lightbulbs left, that Ember will be engulfed by the Unknown Regions, and soon. But no one remembers what, if anything, came before the city of Ember. Where had they lived before the advent of electric light? What would save them from being buried alive in suffocating darkness?
12 year-old Doon and Lina may be the only two assessing the future of Ember as they gather rumours of stockroom depletion and count the blackouts, which seem to last longer each time. They begin the book assigned to their life jobs—Lina as a pipeworker and Doon, a Messenger. Finding each other, they swap life jobs; Doon has a great need to work in the deepest, blackest part of Ember repairing the plumbing for the city and Lina is a fast runner and won’t be trapped by the darkness. Both have an anxious need to solve the problem of Ember. And when they stumble upon a few clues they take a fantastic leap to find their salvation.
I read Ember in a state of gripping intrigue. And assuredly, there was this mystery throughout, the mystery of the city, that was so interesting for me. The intrigue was a slow burn rather than a crashbang adventure, but it completely held me captivated. I found the ending very satisfying. I have a softspot for the twin/shadow boy/girl protagonists, like Doon and Lina, and I totally enjoyed their struggle to be heard and to save their people. I also appreciate that they were just kids. They were motivated out of fear and a need to be recognized and looked up to, as much as being heroes in the book.
I really liked this one. My favourite teen books are in the scifi/dystopian genre and I was totally satisfied reading this. And I’m regaining that fascination reading The People of Sparks (so far!).
More truly awesome teen scifi that I enjoyed:
Genesis by Bernard Beckett
Unwind by Neal Shusterman (an interview)