The Only Light in the Dark

The City of Ember
Jeanne DuPrau
267 pages; published 2004


"So the first Mayor of Ember was given the box, told to guard it carefully, and solemnly sworn to secrecy. When she grew old, and her time as mayor was up, she explained about the box to her successor, who also kept the secret carefully, as did the next mayor. Things went as planned for many years. But the seventh mayor of Ember was less honorable than the ones who'd come before him, and more desperate. He was ill - he had the coughing sickness that was common in the city then - and the thoughts the box might hold a secret that would save his life. He took it from its hiding place in the basement of the Gathering Hall and brought home with him, where he attacked it with a hammer...." (4)


Lina is twelve years old, which is a very exciting age for those who live in the city of Ember, for it is at twelve that children leave school and receive their first job. Lina is hoping to be assigned the job of messenger: she loves to explore and none of her peers can run as fast as her. But, horror of horrors, Lina is not assigned the coveted role of messenger, but of that of a pipe worker; the worst of all assignments.

When her ever-serious classmate Doon approaches her after school, wanting to swap his messenger job for her position at the underground Pipeworks, she’s too relieved to really question it. But then things start to happen: there are strange messages to deliver, blackouts that last longer and longer, and a sudden increase in the rationing of every item.

And then Lina finds a set of secret instructions, destroyed by her baby sister’s gummy chewing. What are they instructions for? Are these secret instructions related to the sudden silent panic and whispering of the mayor, or the determined investigating of Doon? What is happening in Ember?

Stories of the post-apocalyptic genre are one of my favourites, especially ones like these in the vein of Lowry’s The Giver. I’ll admit that I picked up The City of Ember from the library because I knew they were making it into a movie and wanted to beat it to the theatre. Because I knew little more about the book than that, I was surprised to see how young an audience it was aimed at. Because of this, I found it a little predictable in places, but this may not be the case for a younger reader newer to the genre. I liked the characters of Doon and Lina, but can’t help but think they would have been afforded a little more development if they were older. 3.5/5







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4 comments :

caite said...

No, I have not read this but it sounds interesting. You have to love a little post-apocalyptic fun!

Joanne said...

Sounds really interesting, I'll have to add this to my library list :)

Rebecca said...

caite: "post-apocalyptic fun" hahaha! That's excellent :)

Joanne: It was a nice quick read, I'd recommend it.

Michelle said...

I've been looking for this in the library since hearing about the movie. I do quite like post-apocalyptic books!