Jan 8, 2009

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

The City of Ember

For some reason, I've been through a spate of YA novels lately, and I think this was the best of them. Some very interesting ideas here, centered on what you would have to do when faced with the prospect of not having any natural resources to fall back on. The library full of books written by the citizens. The stores of reused, found, and repaired items (yarn taken from sweaters too worn to wear, for example). The way everything would slowly become shades of grey, with no bright colors left after centuries of handling.

In several other ways, though, this is as typical a kids' adventure story as humanly possible. Parents dead or otherwise out of the way, leaving room for young protagonists to act? Of course. Authority poking its nose in, unable to see the forest for the trees? Of course. Help from a trusted adult at exactly the right time? Of course. But that's just storytelling, and it works out fairly well in this case.

final thought: I dug it, but I haven't thought about it much since I finished it. I'd happily give it to a middle schooler, though.


B.E. Earl said...

Haven't read the book, but the clips from the trailer of the film look interesting. Bill Murray as The Mayor, or something.

downtown guy said...

It's got a good cast but left the theater quickly. At any rate, Ive got it on my netflix list to check out when it hits dvd.

Anonymous said...

i liked it too...the sequel, The People of Sparks wasn't quite as good, and then a prequel came out, unrelated (except that it had to do with what happened that drove them underground), but I haven't read it. There's supposed to be a fourth book coming out. I plan to read that one.

I think you're right--the YA books are entertaining, but most of them don't stick with you. I did like Z for Zachariah and The World as We Knew It.

downtown guy said...

My benchmarks for YA fiction start with A Wrinkle in Time, so that casts a long shadow over stuff like this.