Marvin's Reviews > The City of Ember

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
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Jul 12, 2011

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Read from September 09 to 10, 2011

I am sort of a late-comer with Young Adult novels. I blame it on my age. When I was a teenager in the 60s there was no real level between children and adult literature. Teen literature was a bit of a no man's land. I didn't realize there might actually be real literature in YA until I read the Harry Potter series. Since then, I've dabble a bit with the genre and discovered some gems: The Hunger Games series, Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, and Dan Wells' John Wayne Cleaver series. Of course there are plenty of duds too (Hello, Twilight!). Yet I am more willing to explore in this field than I was before.

The City of Ember was our book club pick precisely because some members wanted to add a YA read to our repertoire. I was looking forward to it due to the great press it has receive. If I read this in my teens I would have been Ga-Ga Ape Shit over this book and possibly the entire series. Jeanne DuPrau is a very good writer and does a beautiful job in bringing this fantasy city to life. Yet, as an adult and reviewer, I need to relate this to other books in the same genre. While DuPrau kept my attention, the resolution of this story became fairly obvious and, frankly, a little lame if you are familiar with other sci-fi tales. I don't want to give it away but I expected more. I also had some serious logic problems on why the obviously intelligent Builders would devise such a flawed method for delivering a two hundred year old message. Or how the inhabitants of the city never received or never devised portable lights. Fortunately the characters of Lina and Doon were enough to keep me interested and this is where the story gets its success; from the realness and energy of these two adolescents. Nonetheless, compared to books of similar YA genres like The Hunger Games, this novel comes out a little tame. Still, it is a good story and I would have no problems recommending it to a young teen audience.
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message 1: by Byron (new)

Byron More than any of the other reviews yours has intrigued me to read this work. Like you I'm a child of the 50's and 60's and didn't see any line between teen and adult SF. In retrospect, Heinlein's early work was almost entirely devoted to young readers. Have Spacesuit Will Travel was the first of RH's books - and the first SF book - I read as a pre-teen. Arguably, Stranger was his first adult novel. Just saying that I still enjoy this genre of clean, fun SF so you've made this one something for me to read sooner than later.

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