Brian Hodges's Reviews > The City of Ember

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
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Jun 01, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: ya-mg, dystopia, bloody-brilliant

I don't use the word "spellbinding" often to describe books. I think it's a very special word to describe a very special story. But baby, this book earns it. From the very first chapter, right up through it's satisfying, yet open-ended conclusion, this book grabs you and gives you goosebumps, butterflies and solid characters to carry you through it all.

In this story, people live in a city where the sky is black, the "unknown regions" are blacker, and the only light comes from the city's lightbulbs. But the lightbulbs, as well as the other supplies are starting to run out, and the generator that powers everything is on its last legs. "The Builders", you find out in the opening chapter, provided instructions on how to escape the city when the proper time came, but the box containing the paper has gotten lost. It's up to two kids, Lina and Doon to figure out a way to save the people of Ember before the lights go out for good.

This book encompasses everything that good juvenile fiction should. There's a bit of action, a bit of mystery, a sense of foreboding, yet the kids in it are real kids, who solve their problems without the aid of special powers or the ability to bend the rules of nature. And the themes explored (especially the one involving the nature of "blind faith" versus "childlike curiosity") are observable and tangible without being heavy-handed. A well-earned five-star rating. I'm very eager to read the sequel now.

(As an added note, I "read" this book via the audio version and it is the first fiction book that I have actually enjoyed in this format. I'm not sure if that's a testament to how good this book is or to how bad the other ones were, but the reader gives you just the right amount of character voice to always know who's speaking and the sound guys used just the right amount of music and sound effects to enhanced the mood.)
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