Imagine a city, set deep underground, with a breaking generator, low on supplies, surrounded by darkness. Now imagine that you found an old, broken up letter that seems to be giving instructions to something. Well, that’s the situation 12 year olds Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow got into in Jeanne DuPrau’s science fiction novel, The City of Ember. The letter, torn apart by Lina Mayfleet’s little sister has to have been written in immaculate hand writing and put in a special box for a reason, right? The two are unable to keep their minds off the strange letter and set off to discover its meaning. Join Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow as they piece together the broken words that they hope could save their people from their quickly dying city, The City of Ember.
Jeanne DuPrau has written a truly perfect story. A story about adventure and discovery in a dire situation. A story about friendship. Many similar types of books I’ve read have had similar stories to one another. While some parts of the story are kind of cliché, like finding something that leads to an adventure of sorts, most of the story is new and refreshing to me. The most different aspect of The City Of Ember to other books I’ve read is the setting. Some books of the genre have had the story take place in many large locations. Sometimes entire sections of the book are dedicated to a certain place. While this can be a good thing in many cases if done well, having just a few smaller areas can make each are more memorable as they have more time for you to get used to them and it’s not as clustered.
Another thing I loved was the interactions between the characters. From the friendships like Lina and Doon, to the enemies like Lina and the mayor, they all feel genuine and like they could be interactions between real people. With all this being said, my one major issue with the book is that it doesn’t have a real emotional moment that made me feel for a character. The few that were attempted were quickly forgotten about and didn’t have much impact to the plot. I like a book that can make me cry, but The City Of Ember just couldn’t do that. In summary, I love the story that was told and the character interactions, but didn’t like that there was no good emotional moment.
If you like a book with a great story, likeable and charming characters, and a villain you will root against, I would highly recommend The City Of Ember. Maybe it will get you thinking about what life would be like living in an underground city, a place completely different from where you live now. I know I did. Just don’t expect an emotional moment that could make you cry. I would definitely rate The City Of Ember 9 out of 10 stars. I look forward to reading the sequels and more from Jeanne DuPrau.
Review by Jose N.