Arminzerella's Reviews > The People of Sparks

The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau
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Jan 12, 09

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bookshelves: juvenile-fiction, moral-dilemmas, future, science-fiction, borrowed-from-the-library
Read in January, 2009

** spoiler alert ** Lina and Doon’s note reaches the Emberites and they gradually emerge from the City of Ember in the same way that Lina and Doon made their escape at the end of The City of Ember. The Emberites begin walking toward something on the horizon and eventually arrive in Sparks, a small town and farming community. Although there are over 400 refugees and many fewer citizens of Sparks, the leaders of Sparks attempt to assist the Emberites by feeding and housing them – taking some in to their own homes and families. It is decided that the Emberites will work for their room and board and as they work they will learn what they need to know to build their own settlement. They are given 6 months to acclimate and then they will have to leave Sparks. The arrangement seems agreeable at first, but gradually both Emberites and people of Sparks become unhappy. It’s taking the Emberites a long time to adjust and the people of Sparks see them as lazy and stupid – instead of making allowances or correcting their ignorance, they just treat them badly. As tensions grow between the peoples, one of the Emberites – Tick – attempts to make war. He is almost successful, too, except that one of the leaders of Sparks accidentally sets the town on fire when they try to retaliate. Lina leads the Emberites into the fire to help salvage the town and it brings everyone together.

This was a decent continuation of The City of Ember – the moral dilemma was rather interesting (what would you do if your city was suddenly overrun by refugees and there was nowhere else for them to go? Would you feed them and risk your own people’s health and safety, or send them out knowing they were ill-prepared and that you’d be sending them to their deaths?), but there were a few irritations. I was frustrated (in that people can’t see Snuffalufagus way) that there was seemingly no way for the Emberites to prove to the people of Sparks that they’d come from underground. And once they’d all formed opinions of one another, people had a hard time seeing beyond those first impressions. All of their problems stemmed from poor communication between the two peoples, and they’d end up on opposite sides of their respective plazas yelling at one another. Once again, it was the kids who were able to make them see/act differently. It was a bit convenient that once again Lina and Doon were the heroes of the day. It could easily have taken a different turn. Maybe through working together (instead of in these slave teams that DuPrau set up) the peoples could have started to understand one another better – valued one another’s different knowledge and skill sets. But they didn’t. I wish there had been more admirable characters – there were so many people (Emberites and people of Sparks) that I just didn’t like, both adults and children. That, more than anything, made this a more difficult read.
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