Series: Book of Ember #1
Genres: Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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 way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them
The City of Ember is a dystopian book set in the far future. Before a nuclear war breaks out, the government secretly builds an underground city and sends select citizens there to live underground for hundreds of years until the surface is safe to inhabit again. The book follows Lina and Doon, two young teenagers who attempt to solve the mystery of how to leave Ember.
The book was one of the few that rekindled my love of reading. I really enjoyed the setting and the characters. Following the teens on their discovery was interesting, as was learning how the citizens coped with day-to-day needs and difficulties. To add to the problems, the city was well past its prime and on the verge of breakdown. And of course making the bad guys of the story be self-centered out-of-touch politicians was quite believable. Lena is a very interesting character…she is very head strong, doesn’t take no for an answer, and won’t leave any stone unturned as she looks for the truth. She faces off again those in power several times and ultimately becomes a leader in the search for freedom.
This is a good novel for preteens on up to adults.
City of Ember is followed by The People of Sparks, The Prophet of Yonwood, and the Diamond of Darkhold.
There is a graphic novel of City of Ember. Buy it on Amazon: The City of Ember: The Graphic Novel (Books of Ember)
Interview with Author Jeanne DuPrau
The City of Ember was made into a motion picture with an all-star cast and an amazing set design. But ultimately it failed to connect with audiences and did not succeed. What was your opinion of the movie, and is there anything you would have changed if you could redo it? How close was the movie to your own personal vision of Ember? Did you have any input into the portions that veered from the book plot?
I had mixed feelings about the movie. I thought they designed a spectacular city (though it was different from what I envisioned, which was much darker and bleaker), and I liked the main actors, especially Bill Murray as the mayor. I wasn’t so pleased about the changes they made to the story–adding monster insects and moles, putting in a confusing subplot about Doon’s father, and omitting some important scenes. But I had no say in the making of the movie beyond suggesting some changes in the script. Actually, I suggested a lot of changes, but most of them weren’t made. Filmmakers like to create their own vision of a story; I understood that from the start of the project–but I did think their vision could have been a little closer to mine!
If you had to pick one group to belong to, would you have belonged to the City of Ember, or to Sparks?
Both sides were having a hard time, but I would probably have wanted to join in with the people of Ember. They were the ones having a thrilling, though hard, adventure, seeing the wonders of the Earth for the first time.
Do you have any plans for future Ember prequels or any Ember-related books?
There’s the graphic novel of The City of Ember. But besides that, I have no plans to add to the series.
It has been a few years since your last novel. Can you talk about what you’ve been working on, and what the next novel will be?
After I wrote The Diamond of Darkhold, I was pretty burned out. Since then I’ve had a few ideas for another book, and I’ve started work on two of those ideas. I’m finding it slow going–I keep throwing out what I’ve written and starting over–but I hope to have something finished before too long. I don’t want to say anything about it yet, except that, like the Ember books, it takes place in the future.
What are some novels you read recently that you enjoyed?
I liked Tenth of December, by George Saunders (short stories) and A Hologram for the King, by Dave Eggers. I liked the strange and fascinating Patrick Melrose novels, by Edward St. Aubyn. Philip Pullman is an author I admire–the His Dark Materials trilogy especially. Though my own books are usually classified as science fiction, I don’t read much in that genre, and I’ve ceased trying to keep up with what’s new in children’s and YA fiction. There’s just so much!