Great Illustrated Books

The City of Ember (Books of Ember series)

By Jeanne DuPrau

Random House, 2003
Pages : 288
Suggested Ages: 9 and Up
ISBN: 9780375822735

In the City of Ember in year 241, the sky is always dark. There is no moon, or even sun in Ember. The electric lights come on every morning at six, and go out every night at nine. The city is old, and everything, including the power lines, needs repair. Whenever the lights go out, the city is plunged into terrifying darkness. When this year's two dozen twelve-year-old graduating classmates are assigned their lifetime jobs, two of them, Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow, secretly switch their assignments. Lina becomes a messenger, delivering spoken messages for people in the city. Doon becomes a pipeworks laborer working in the tunnels that contain Ember's water and sewer pipes, down by the underground river. It's a frightening and dangerous job, but Doon, looking for the chance to do something to help his city, wants to learn all about the generator that powers everything. Ember is running out of all the supplies that has kept it running for 241 years, with only darkness beyond it in the Unknown Regions. Disaster is right around the corner. Can two mere children figure out how to save Ember before the lights fail for good?

Ask your children to contemplate what it would be like to live in a place where such things as cars, computers, air conditioning, oceans, trees, and the sun were unknown. Readers will want to follow Lina and Doon in the sequels, The People of Sparksand The Diamond of Darkhold, and read the prequel, The Prophet of Yonwood.

And viewers, take note: the movie version, City of Ember, starring Tim Robbins and Bill Murray, is due out in October, 2008. For a sneak peek, view the trailer at:

Reviewed by : JF.


If you love this book, then try:

Collins, Suzanne. Gregor the Overlander. Scholastic, 2003. ISBN-13: 978-0439435369

Delano, Marie Ferguson. Inventing the Future: A Photobiography of Thomas Alva Edison. National Geographic, 2002. ISBN-13: 978-0792259343

DuPrau, Jeanne. The Diamond of Darkhold. Random House, 2008. ISBN-13: 978-0375855719

DuPrau, Jeanne. The People of Sparks. Random House, 2004. ISBN-13: 978-0375828256

DuPrau, Jeanne. The Prophet of Yonwood. Random House, 2006. ISBN-13: 978-0440421245

Gutman, Dan. Qwerty Stevens Back in Time: The Edison Mystery. Simon & Schuster, 2001. ISBN-13: 978-0689841248

Hirsch, Odo. Bartlett and the City of Flames. Bloomsbury, 2003. ISBN-10: 1865081167

Ives, David. Monsieur Eek. HarperCollins, 2001. ISBN-13: 978-0064473019

Lowry, Lois. The Giver. Houghton Mifflin, 1993. ISBN-13: 978-0440237686

Schanzer, Rosalyn. How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning. HarperCollins, 2003. ISBN-10: 0688169937

Critics have said

"The haunting setting and breathless action of this stunning first novel will have teens clamoring for a sequel."
Patty Campbell,

"Thanks to full-blooded characters every bit as compelling as the plot, Lina and Doon's search parallels the universal adolescent quest for answers. Readers will sit on the edge of their seats as each new truth comes to light."
Publishers Weekly

"The likable protagonists are not only courageous but also believably flawed by human pride, their weaknesses often complementing each other in interesting ways. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers clamoring for the next installment."
Kirkus Reviews