Duprau, Jeanne. 2004. The City of Ember. New York: Random House.
GR 5-9. At age twelve, all inhabitants of the perpetually dark City of Ember receive their assignments. Doon Harrow, a grave and quiet youth, gladly trades his messenger job for ebullient Lina Mayfleet’s Pipeworks laborer assignment. Although older residents recall times of plenty, the city is now plagued by power outages, shortages and deprivation. Bent nails, broken china, even old can labels are saved for reuse. Stores offer pieces of string, scraps of wood, and shreds of clothing. Doon is convinced that he will find an answer to the city’s problems underground in the Pipeworks, where the generator is kept; but not everyone is willing to admit there is a problem, especially the mayor. As the city’s power source falters and light bulbs become scarce, Lina finds a mysterious message from the past. Together, Lina and Doon seek to discover the mystery and possibly the salvation of the City of Ember.
Reminiscent of Lowry’s The Giver with a darker edge, DuPrau’s tale of dystopian survival and friendship transcends genres, mixing science fiction, mystery, and suspense while posing a question even deeper than the Pipeworks – in matters of life and death, which, if any, innately human protocols may be abandoned? In The City of Ember, Doon and Lina must choose. The palpable fear of utter darkness and the “unknown regions” add urgency to their mission. The behavior and dialogue of Doon and Lina and the other Ember inhabitants is believable and relevant to today’s youth. The action is swift and suspenseful; and readers will enjoy deciphering the cryptic message that may hold the key to the City of Ember’s future. The only disappointment in this debut novel is the cliffhanger ending. Readers may be left wishing for a more satisfying conclusion.
The movis is due out in November. I'm looking forward to it, but can't believe that the trailer gives away a key element of the novel! Read the book first!