Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Review: City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

GoodReads Description:
The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she's sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever! This stunning debut novel offers refreshingly clear writing and fascinating, original characters.

My Review:
Why I picked up the book: It was a recommendation from a friend at work. I don't know why it took us a year and a half of working together before we realized that we both adore reading, but a few weeks ago we kind of went book crazy and spent quite a few hours bugging our co-workers by obsessing over The Hunger Games and other books. Now we spend at least a few minutes (more like hours) every day talking about books we've read and giving recommendations. I love it! So that’s why I picked up City of Ember. To be honest, I doubt I would have even touched it without the recommendation. The author is relatively unknown to me, the book was published about 10 years ago, it is technically categorized as a middle-grade read, and the cover isn't very eye-catching. However, here is a true case of "don't judge a book by its cover."

The Plot: Imagine for a minute. Your town of about 500 people is the only thing you know. Once you leave the boundaries of your city, it becomes pitch black with no sun or stars to guide you, only the constant fear of tumbling over an unseen cliff or walking into an unknown trap. But now, the power that keeps the city alive and thriving is dying, and food supplies are running out. No one remembers how electricity works or that there is a sun and a way to make your own food somewhere out there. Now all there is to do is to frantically try to repair a machine that you don't know how to work or to find a way out before the lights go out and darkness is all you know. City of Ember is a Dystopian novel from before the word "Dystopian" was really a genre. The book explores issues such as greed, lack of history, brainwashing, and power. There is an underlying thread of unease throughout the whole book that just leaves you feeling tense and worried but excited to see what happens next.

The Characters: Lina and Doone were the two main characters. They were smart for their age, and more adult than I would have expected for 12 year olds. Though they are rather naïve about the greed of the adults in the City of Ember. What I kind of liked about them was that even though they are of the opposite sex there was no romance between the two. I guess that since they are like, twelve, this makes sense...but hey, kids are getting all riled up early these days... The 4 year old I babysit for has a boyfriend and her six-year old sister had her first kiss last week. Kids I swear...I guess I was late to the party when I had my first kiss at band camp at 12...I'm convinced it's something in their Lucky Charms these days that are causing infants to turn boy-crazy...lol wow..sorry I'm kind of off on a tangent...anyway, I enjoyed that Lina and Doone could work together as friends without it turning romantic. They work well together mentally and as a team they are cute and fun. As characters, they did fall a little flat and came off extremely naïve but that is to be expected when they were unintentionally brainwashed by a long succession of people who were also brainwashed.
Problems/Dislikes: The writing style was just a hair childish...kind of like Justin Beiber...technically of age, but still reminds you of an 8 year old. The plot was easily constructed and you could tell where the story was going even before it went there. The secondary characters were VERY flat. They were literally just names who fullfilled certain roles like villain, guardian, sibling, etc. with no real depth.

Rating: I enjoyed this book a lot, especially for a middle grade read. It wasn't OMG I NEED TO READ THE REST OF THE SERIES NOW! But then again, few series are. I think it's a nice book for kids transitioning into Dystopian novels. I give it 7 1/2 out of 10 lanterns :D

Thanks for stopping by,


  1. I love Dystopia! I *think* I have this saved on my TBR but if not I'll be adding it. Glad you liked it :)

  2. i read City of Ember (and the 2 following books) a couple years ago and very much enjoyed them. the movie as also pretty good.

  3. I tend to enjoy dystopian novels, might still try this one out-thank you for pointing out the title!

  4. My sister tried this book out and she felt the same way. She liked it well enough (I don't think she even realized it was a dystopian back then, but she didn't know what that even meant), but it didn't leave a lasting impression on her like THe Hunger Games did or like Delirium is doing now. Great review!

  5. I loved this book mostly because it wasnt like every other and it was also a movie. I could never read the rest of the series though because it wasn't that good for me.

  6. I did not know that this series existed until I saw the movie, which I loved. I'm ashamed to say I have not started reading them yet.

  7. I used to read books from back when more often, but I haven't really in a while. I think I should start. Maybe not with this one, but this is a great reminder of all of the books that I have not read from then. I needed that reminder. So thank you!