Amy's Reviews > The Prophet of Yonwood

The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau
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Dec 07, 08

bookshelves: books-on-tape, read-in-2008
Read in December, 2008

** spoiler alert ** I listened to this out of order in the series - my daughter read the second book and was ready for the third one, so we listened while we cleaned her room.
Luckily for me, this book happens to be a prequel, and is only slightly related to the storyline in the other two books.

The prophet of Yonwood, Althea Towers, is a lady who has a terrible vision of a horrible future. The vision is so horrible, she becomes very sick. Mrs. Beeson, the town busybody, attempts to find directions from god in the prophet's vision - don't eat hot chocolate, don't own dogs, don't sing. The country is on the brink of a massive international war. Mrs. Beeson is convinced that she needs to root out evil in the community, interpreting the prophet's vision for guidance. This will ensure god is on their side and help them survive the upcoming conflict. Mrs. Beeson uses the local law enforcement to root out those who fail to follow the words of the prophet, subverting the rule of law in the interests of fighting terrorism in the community.

Nickie, a young girl visiting from the city, at first wants to help Mrs. Beeson 'make the world a better place' and reports on the potential evil-doers around her. As Nickie comes to understand her neighbors better, she realizes they are different and unusual, but not evil. Unfortunately, her friends are already caught in Mrs. Beeson's expanding net of wrongdoers.

Eventually, this small town is returned to normal after Nickie talks to the prophet. Turns out that Mrs. Beeson took descriptions of the vision as a call to specific action. Once the prophet explained this, everyone went right back to following laws and lived happily until the next international crises, which was much worse and led to the establishment of Ember.

This book made me think of life in small towns, children growing up, the current fearmongering in the war on terror, and the rise of Hitler.
I kept thinking that the author was too heavy handed in her approach - it all seemed so obvious. But then I realized that what's obvious to an adult might not be obvious to a child - and Nickie is a child. She's also a relatively unsupervised but idealistic child, and so is susceptible to Mrs. Beeson's influence.

Some other aspects of the book did not feel quite right initially. The nation was on the verge of war - yet it was something that was happening far away, with only minimal connection to people's lives. Again, this might just be an attempt to show a child's perspective.

Also, the book seemed to portray modern America - and although cell phones were everywhere, computers were not. I felt like the importance of technology to everyday life, even in small towns in America, was ignored completely.
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