“The City of Ember”

September 29, 2008

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

With the movie version coming soon, I decided to read “The City of Ember.” It’s a quick, easy read, but very engaging. Science fiction and fantasy fans will like it, but I think anyone looking for an adventure might enjoy it.

Though the novel doesn’t directly state the fact, the reader soon understands that Ember is a city underground, provided for by the “Builders” over two hundred and forty years ago. Ember’s problems are many. The Builders—hoping to create a society that will escape the fate of the world above ground (whatever that is—I thought of a nuclear holocaust), stored provisions to last at least two hundred years. They also provided directions for the residents to leave Ember and come back above ground. But these directions have been mislaid and no one in Ember knows that there is an outside world. There is only their city—artificially lighted through electricity generated with the help of the river. Outside of the city everything is pitch dark and nothing exists. As the electrical infrastructure deteriorates and the food stores run low, everyone is frightened but they don’t know how to solve their problems.

Two teens, Lina and Doon search for clues. Both have been assigned their jobs the same year. These assignments are random and Doon gets ‘Messenger’ whereas Lina gets ‘Pipeworks.’ They agree to exchange and it is through their jobs that they gain some knowledge of the problems the city is facing. They make important discoveries and see a way out of Ember into a brighter future. However, in another matter, they are accused of lying and causing the city’s residents to panic. Knowing that no one will believe what they have discovered and with the mayor’s security force on their trail, they must decide whether to save themselves.

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