Monday, June 7, 2010

Review: City of Ember

City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Audience: MG
Published: (this edition) May 2004, Yearling
Format: Paperback, 270 pgs


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 thoughts:

I have to admit that I saw the movie first, not knowing it was based on a book until afterward. That being said, I'm fairly certain I would have enjoyed the book more if I had read it first.

Lina is an interesting character, but she lacks the depth I generally prefer to truly connect with characters. I was worried for her. I cared about her. But not nearly as much as I could/should have. The same applies to Doon. I wanted more from them altogether. It wasn't bad characterization, just lacking in intensity.

DuPrau makes up for it in plot, though, and leads the reader on one journey after another as the two kids try to find a way out of Ember before the lights go out. The world building was good, I could have gone for a bit more, but I got a sense for Ember and the complete and utter darkness surrounding the city. There was great suspense and a desire to figure out each part of the bigger mystery as well. I had a hard time putting this one down; I wanted to know what happened. How would this turn out? And let's not forget, I'd already seen the movie.

While there were some aspects of the plot I enjoyed more in the movie, I realize that they were beefed up in order to reach a bigger audience and keep them on the edge of their seats. If this looks interesting to you, I ask that you please read the book first, I'd prefer it not get spoiled for anyone else. Although I didn't enjoy this as much as I would have liked, I have hope for the other books in the series and will definitely pick them up sometime.

Also, I love this cover. It's shiny, it's simple, and the name of the city is the filament of the light bulb (even though it's hard to see). Fantastic. : )

Semi-related note - I'm still trying to figure out what all information I want to include in reviews and the best way to format them, so if there's something you want to see that you haven't been seeing or something you really want me to keep, let me know. These reviews are for you, so I want to make them the best I can.


Talli Roland said...

I haven't heard of this book! Great review.

Charity Bradford said...

I read the City of Sparks and felt a bit let down. Hopefully you will like it better than I did. I actually liked the Prophet of Yonwood? (Can't remember the exact name right now) better. It is the prequel to the series.

I feel lucky enough that generally I can enjoy any book for some aspect. For some reason this book reminded me of the Myst series. Did you ever play that game? The books were wonderful.


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