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The City of Ember

(Book of Ember #1)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  259,212 ratings  ·  11,524 reviews
An alternate cover edition can be found here.

Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness…

But whe
Paperback, 288 pages
Published 2003 by Random House Children's Books
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Elita 12 years old in the book, but in the movie Dune is much older than 12.

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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  259,212 ratings  ·  11,524 reviews

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Jun 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Maybe 18 months ago, I came out of my office to find my 5 year old son laying in the hallway reading a book.

He wasn't just flipping through a picture book, either. He was actually reading it. A book with all words and no pictures.

This was that book. He'd read it with his mom a over a month's worth of bedtimes. Then, of his own volition while walking through the hallway, he'd pulled it off the shelf, sat down, and started to read it again.

That's a recommendation beyond anything I can give it.

* *
Jan 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
The City of Ember is a young adult novel that is a fantastic allegory for spiritual awakening, though I have no idea if it was intended as such. The story is of a girl who lives in an underground and completely self-contained city created by the “Builders.” The population of the city knows of nothing outside the city, in fact, though they speak English many of the words in it like “sky” are not understood in any terms but metaphorically. The problem is that the city is falling apart, the lights ...more
Sep 08, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: young fans of distopian novels
Shelves: young-adult
DuPrau makes a typical first-time novelist mistake throughout this book: she doesn’t trust her reader to infer. In other words, she often over-explains, following up dialogue and action sequences with redundant descriptions of a character’s take on what just happened. Another disappointment is that the mystery of Ember unfolds in an entirely predictable manner. There are no great surprises.

DuPrau's characterization of Doon is one dimensional. His spurts of rage create the only complexity in an
Miss Nuding
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This books makes you appreciate even the smallest of things that you may take for granted. I look forward to seeing how the movie compares with the book!
Ahmad Sharabiani
The City of Ember (Book of Ember #1), Jeanne DuPrau
Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…, but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness… But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a
Olivier Delaye
Jun 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Before The Hunger Games (2008) there was The City of Ember (2003).

Well, that’s not exactly true because, to be completely honest about it, before HG there were the Japanese novel (1999) and then movie (2000) Battle Royale from which only the blind would say that HG isn’t based upon or at least heavily inspired by. Which, don’t get me wrong, is totally fine; inspiration comes in every shape and form, and if a great book/movie inspired HG author Suzanne Collins to write a great series, then more p
Sep 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who love <u>The Giver</u>.
Recommended to Shelly by: Jacob Unsicker
My 12 year old son just knew I would love this book. He's been hounding me to read it since... early last spring. Finally, I have read it and Jacob (my son) was right.

Omigosh. What first hooked me were the vivid character descriptions that show more than tell, so the reader can draw their own conclusions. The story is told in third person, limited in two different perspectives. Lina Mayfleet, twelve years old, sat "winding a strand of her long, dark hair around her finger, winding and unwinding
Aishu Rehman
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: favorites
Very interesting and exciting. The City of Ember is a dramatic book and the three main characters, Lina, Doon, and Poppy find a dark tunnel where they find a box of matches. But they don't know what they are because they haven't discovered movable light yet! And I think it is very creative and if you want to know more, read The City of Ember!!!

The mayor is actually behind some of the problems of Ember. Looper, Lina's friend's boyfriend, and the mayor are hiding rare things such as light bulbs, f
Oct 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
(This is for my book report)

"The City of Ember" is all about these two regular kids saving their city. Doon and Lina had never thought of being twelve years old and getting jobs. Lina orriginaly got chosen to work in the sewers as a pipework's laborer,but Doon knew being a messenger wouldn't do anything to help save the city, so he traded with Lina. Luckily, Lina just so happened to be a super fast runner and that's why she thought messenger would be a perfect job for her. Doon wasn't the kind
Kate Willis
2018/2019 Re-read
I got to read this book aloud to my youngest sister and introduce her to the world of Ember. She's a fan. ;)

Original Review
This year I rediscovered The City of Ember. Watching the movie with my siblings reminded me how much I loved the books, and I decided to start the series again. This time since I already knew the story I was free to slow down and enjoy every aspect of it. I could feel the impending doom of Ember with the rust and the mold and the damp and the blackouts. I co
Jul 12, 2011 rated it liked it
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 a ...more
Oct 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
I asked my best friend what kinds of books his children were reading (I'm always looking for books for my niece) and he said his oldest son had read and enjoyed the City of Ember series. So much so that he'd passed them along to his parents, who had read them and found them interesting as well. Add to it a movie coming out and I decided I would give the series a try.

The City of Ember exists inside the darkness, where it's always night. Darkness is held at bay twelve hours a day by artifical ligh
The City of Ember is an engaging children's fiction novel that introduces young readers to courageous characters who take steps to make change happen. The author Jeanne DuPrau writes age-appropriate fantasy/dystopia with mystery, action, adventure, and an exciting cliffhanger that keeps kids interested in the series. My son absolutely LOVES this book! Loves it so much he doesn't want to watch the film adaption for fear of ruining his reading experience (he has learned this lesson early in life L ...more
Sara Saif

I loved it! I remember seeing the film years ago and enjoying it so much. On a whim I decided to read the book and I was fascinated by it! What I savoured most of all was the mood and tone of the book. There's this feeling of doom, claustrophobia and being smothered that permeates everything and it made the book so exciting.

The City of Ember, made by the Builders two and a half centuries ago, is slowly but surely declining. The supplies are running out and the generator powered by the river

Sep 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This juvenile allegory reminded me greatly of The Giver. Just as at the start of The Giver, the young people of the community of Ember receive their future work assignments, a device which quickly pulls the young reader into the story. Now almost adults, Lina and Doon are able to view their community with fresh eyes, and discover that the generator, the source of electric power on which the town depends, is soon to be exhausted. This will plunge the city into complete darkness. The children disc ...more
Jul 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 100-pages
I wish I had read this book some time before.

Lina and Doon are intelligent and curious, which makes the story interesting.

The letter in the end of this book was thrilling to read.

Paige  Bookdragon
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it

I totally forgot that this book exist. It's been years since I've read this but I can still remember how I enjoyed this one so much. Might do a reread soon :)
Penny Wood
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
FINALLY finished this one! Definitely amazing!

Absolutely LOVED following Lina and Doon through Ember and their escape. Plotting, worldbuilding, characters were really excellent!

Will most likely not be reading the prequel to this, but perhaps People Of The Sparks and the one after that!

Note: WATCH THE MOVIE! It's wonderful and actually pretty close to the book as in terms of following the plot!
Oct 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Megan by: Shinynickel
I really really love the idea of a post-disaster society of people living underground. And I especially love the idea of reading about that society several generations in, where they no longer remember what daylight is, or why the city they live in is theren- or even where exactly their city is. I like the idea of this society making up their own myths about 'the dark' and having new origin stories and singing songs amid candles lit against the ever-present night. However, all those enchanting p ...more
Deborah Markus
Oct 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
A terrific book, simply and beautifully written. I like books that make it clear there is (or could be, or should be) a sequel in the works, but that don't drive the reader out of her mind by not answering any of the questions raised at the very beginning. (I'm sure it's not just YA books that often do this, but they're what I'm reading most lately.) Also, I was glad to see lots and lots of female characters of all ages, interests, and abilities -- and I don't think anyone's "accusing" this of b ...more
Jonathan Terrington

There are some books which, when you read them, hold you in a spell with their unique charm and voice. This was one of those children's books, read at a time in which I devoured everything considered suitable reading. I've never read the sequels however as the way in which this book ended was left open to my imagination and to continue in such a way would ruin the magic of this novel. Recommended out of that nostalgic time known as childhood.
Elle (ellexamines)
This book is honestly fairly meh. The action is slightly lukewarm; in fact, nothing much happens for ages. The characters are nothing special. Lila and Doon are both flat as can be. In general, the book is just fairly meh.

That being said, there's something fairly entertaining about this book. It's got that sweet emotional realness of so many middle grade books.

I wouldn't read this as an adult, but for middle grade readers, this is definitely a solid read.
Feb 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone age 11-17
I'm currently reading this book, I was at the library and just picked it up not really knowing what it was about. Anyway, as soon as I started reading it I couldn't stop. It's one of those books that you cant put down. Infact I have been late for school a few days because I stay up so late reading it.
It's not a very large book. But the story is incredible!
From what i've read so far it is about a girl who lives in a strange city called Ember, where there is no such thing as the sun. The whole cit
Mrs. Riding
Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, ebook
This was my first book to read on the Kindle. This futuristic story about twelve year olds Doon and Lina was wonderful. I felt just like the guy from Amazon hoped that I would while reading on the Kindle, that I would forget the medium and enjoy the story. Twelve year olds have such a simple world, even when confronted with big issues. When I told my own children how much I enjoyed the story I heard, "Oh, yeah. That's a good book. I read it last year." I wonder why I didn't pick it up then? I've ...more
Kelly Gillan
Oct 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-faves
Jul 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Been wanting to read this for a long time. I saved the movie in my DVR forever because I prefer to read the book first. Enjoyed it but it ends pretty open so I'll definitely need to continue with the series. ...more
Jul 20, 2011 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

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!

I suppose The City of Ember would be a good choice for children (9-13 years old) and if I was younger I would appreciate it much more.

My main problem
Apr 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Second Read: February 1, 2021 - March 3, 2021
3 Stars
I read this with my grade five class and they also enjoyed it more than I did.

First Read: March 7, 2018 - April 13, 2018
3 Stars
I read this to my grade six class and they enjoyed it more than I did.
Sep 13, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: pre-teens
First off- the sticker on the book says: If you love Harry Potter, you'll love this book.
That is a pretty hefty claim to make, and in this case, it doesn't hold. Sorry, lady.

This book got knocked for being a "typical first novel", where everything is over explained. I agree, but just assume that the target audience is younger.

Another review said that the ending was great! But I had a problem with the geographical reality of it all. Super far fetched.

Overall, a good quick read once, as an adult.
Aisyah ♡
My first dystopian novel. It has great character-building, interesting story, and also the concept of Ember itself is intriguing. Note; one star off for being slow at times that I find myself struggling to finish it.

Would recommend to people who love a good YA dystopian novel without any insta-love thrown in.
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Jeanne DuPrau spends several hours of every day at her computer, thinking up sentences. She has this quote taped to her wall: "A writer is someone for whom writing is harder than it is for other people" (Thomas Mann).

This gives her courage, because she finds writing very hard. So many words to choose from! So many different things that could happen in a story at any moment! Writing is one tough de

Other books in the series

Book of Ember (4 books)
  • The People of Sparks (Book of Ember, #2)
  • The Prophet of Yonwood (Book of Ember, #3)
  • The Diamond of Darkhold (Book of Ember, #4)

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