Caroline's Reviews > The City of Ember

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
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's review
Jan 22, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: genre-science-fiction, young-readers, 1st-in-a-series, reviewed

Ember is an underground city, supremely isolated. It survives on hydroelectricity, a few meager crops, and a storeroom of canned goods and staples, now nearly empty. All knowledge of the surface has been lost. The residents have been kept in deliberate ignorance of the nature of the world. As far as they know the world consists only of their city, surrounded by infinite darkness. Two youngsters, Lina and Doon, have come to believe that there must be something beyond the dark.

Characterization and plotting are both fine, but it is the world-building which is wonderful. The author does an amazing job with the tension and anxiety that underlays their everyday life. In only a few chapters, it establishes a believable, fascinating world, a juxtaposition of primitive mindset and modern trappings. Lina and Doon’s investigation proceeds sporadically, undermined by everyday life and realistic roadblocks. The story is about their efforts to uncover the truth and find a way to escape. All the while, as supplies dwindle and the aged electric plant fails, their society faces doomsday.

It is a fine story set in a memorable setting that made a strong impression on me.

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