Monday, August 14, 2017

Review: THE CITY OF EMBER by Jeanne DuPrau

Rating: 5/5 stars

This is an older book that has been rather popular, but I never decided to read it until now. I've seen the movie before, so I already knew the story, but I wanted to give the book a chance, too. I am so happy I did because this book was awesome!

The City of Ember is a steampunk adventure story following Lina and Doon, two kids who live in Ember, a city of complete darkness except for the street lights powered by the generator. But Ember wasn't built to last as long as it has; the lights are beginning to go out for minutes at a time, and the generator needs constant repair. Everything in the city is broken and worn, and resources are nearly gone. Despite their circumstances, Lina and Doon are on the edge of hope that Ember is not the only source of life in the world, that another city lies beyond the blackness. One day they discover an ancient note, and as they attempt to decipher its message together, they begin to wonder if there really is more beyond Ember than darkness.

Something I really appreciated about this book was that Lina and Doon faced real problems on their journey, situations that actually had me wondering how they were going to proceed next. I think if this would have been a superficial young adult story where an issue surfaces and then magically resolves itself (which I've seen happen way too often before), I would have been so disappointed. But in The City of Ember, Lina and Doon really had to work through their struggles to reach a solution. (The scene where they discovered how candles work was my favourite. And that ending!) This book truly has a thoroughly crafted plot in a completely unique world. I was enraptured with DuPrau's storytelling.

I was left with a few questions that I hope will get answered later on in the series. First of all is why the Builders built the city of Ember in the first place and made people move underground to live there. We get a snippet of information about this, but not enough yet to be satisfactory. Second is how they managed to convince people it was necessary to move underground where they would never see the sun or trees again (because the first residents of Ember would have come from our world). I'm basically just interested in how the whole thing started and how they managed to build Ember. I'm very excited to read the rest of the series. Unlike this book, I know nothing about the next three books, but I'm sure the story will be just as exciting and the world-building just as rich.

Sidenote about the audiobook: This audiobook was amazing. There were sound effects all throughout the story. For example, whenever Lina or Doon was near the river, I would hear rushing water in the background. There were also sounds like scraping metal, cheering crowds, and chirping bugs. It was a phenomenal addition to the story that really had me engrossed in what was happening. I think all audiobooks should incorporate sound effects like these.

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