Book Review: City of Ember

DuPrau, Jeanne. The City of Ember. 2003. 270p. Random House.

Genre: Sci-Fi/ Fantasy


For ages: 9 – adult, would make a good classroom or bedtime read aloud


Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow live in a world with no sun. Artificial lights turn on for “day” and off for “night.”  On Assignment Day – the day when every twelve year old in Ember gets their first job – Lina desperately wants to be messenger but draws a job at Pipeworks instead. She can’t believe Doon Harrow actually wants to trade jobs with her.  Doon wants to be at pipeworks to learn how the generator keeps the lights on. The lights that have been keeping the city out of darkness all his life have been flickering.  That’s when Lina begins to worry too. What will happen if the lights go out forever?


I loved the whole concept of Ember, a world with only artificial lighting. Lina and Doon’s small town is the whole world.  They are able to walk to everyplace and take jobs at a young age. The author makes Ember come alive—without a lot of exposition—by putting us directly into Lina and Doon’s shoes and making us care about their problems. I wanted Lina to get her messenger job and wanted Doon to find out the secrets of the lights from the beginning.



The Sequel: Jeanne DuPrau. The People of Sparks. 2004. 338p. Random House.


While not quite as compelling, this sequel to City of Ember is a satisfying conclusion of Lina and Doon’s story.


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