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Book of Ember #1

The City of Ember

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An alternate cover edition can be found here.

Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness…

But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?

270 pages, Paperback

First published May 13, 2003

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About the author

Jeanne DuPrau

14 books1,784 followers
Jeanne DuPrau spends several hours of every day at her computer, thinking up sentences. She has this quote taped to her wall: "A writer is someone for whom writing is harder than it is for other people" (Thomas Mann).

This gives her courage, because she finds writing very hard. So many words to choose from! So many different things that could happen in a story at any moment! Writing is one tough decision after another.

But it's also the most satisfying thing she knows how to do. So she keeps doing it. So far, she has written four novels, six books of nonfiction, and quite a few essays and stories.

Jeanne DuPrau doesn't write every minute of every day. She also putters around in her garden. She lives in California, where it's easy to grow everything from apples to zinnias.

Jeanne DuPrau doesn't have children, but she has two nephews, a niece, and a dog. The dog lives with her. His name is Ethan. Jeanne and Ethan get along well, though their interests are different. Ethan is not very fond of reading, for example, and Jeanne doesn't much like chasing squirrels. But they agree on walks, naps, and trips in the car to surprise destinations. Ethan also likes to help in the garden.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 12,724 reviews
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 64 books233k followers
June 28, 2016
Maybe 18 months ago, I came out of my office to find my 5 year old son laying in the hallway reading a book.

He wasn't just flipping through a picture book, either. He was actually reading it. A book with all words and no pictures.

This was that book. He'd read it with his mom a over a month's worth of bedtimes. Then, of his own volition while walking through the hallway, he'd pulled it off the shelf, sat down, and started to read it again.

That's a recommendation beyond anything I can give it.

* * *

About a week ago, I went on a car trip with Oot, and we listened to this book together. I see why he liked it. It's very tightly written. Good setting. Good mystery. Two POV characters, one boy and one girl. They each have their own plots, and their own character arcs. Their own problems they struggle to resolve. The boy gets angry sometimes, and his father talks to him about it, and the boy tries throughout the book to get a grip on his anger with varying success.

What's more, they both make mistakes. And they're *obviously* mistakes. If only the boy would have told his father about X, things would have gone better. It's kinda the opposite of Harry Potter. It's nice to have that in a kid's book.

Anyway. Yeah. Good book. Good Audio. Two thumbs up. One from me, and one from Oot.
Profile Image for Eric.
25 reviews14 followers
December 4, 2013
The City of Ember is a young adult novel that is a fantastic allegory for spiritual awakening, though I have no idea if it was intended as such. The story is of a girl who lives in an underground and completely self-contained city created by the “Builders.” The population of the city knows of nothing outside the city, in fact, though they speak English many of the words in it like “sky” are not understood in any terms but metaphorically. The problem is that the city is falling apart, the lights are going out, the vast stores of supplies of light bulbs, canned food, and vitamins are running out. The reader is in on a worse calamity, namely, that a secret message in a timed lock box that was left by the Builders, which was meant to be handed down from mayor to mayor and that would open just in time to explain to the city dwellers how to get out of the city, was lost many generations back. Well, being a young adult novel it’s pretty predictable in that the box is in our hero’s closet, but a nice turn of events it is found by our hero’s baby sister who chews on it for a while before our hero gets her hands on it leaving the message is only partially legible. So the bulk of the story is the deciphering of the message, followed by the experience of trying to communicate its contents to the adults, who of course don’t accept the message (where else is there but here?) which is the equivalent of all prophets experiences of rejection by the status-quo. And finally, there is the adventure of eventual escape.
This book reworks the universal theme of Plato’s cave, and of all mysticism. What we think of as the whole universe is but shadow, and further, that to enter that “kingdom of heaven” you must be like a child. The insight that this version of that universal story led me to is part of the answer to why childishness is a necessary component of the transformation. Children haven’t yet become someone. Which means who they are is not yet at stake. For some reason our culture has this question “what are you going to be when you grow up?” Think about the hidden structures and assumptions in that question. Who are you? Have you figured it out yet? Is what you do, who you are? Is what you believe who you are? Is who you associate with who you are? I write these questions myself in shadow not in the condition of childishness, and with all of this, as Quaker’s say, “a notion,” i.e. not something that I have experienced, but rather something I think. But this thing that is mostly a notion for me, that the distinction between notional and experiential living is key to awakening, I am begining in small ways to actually experience.
Profile Image for Jon.
36 reviews19 followers
March 28, 2010
DuPrau makes a typical first-time novelist mistake throughout this book: she doesn’t trust her reader to infer. In other words, she often over-explains, following up dialogue and action sequences with redundant descriptions of a character’s take on what just happened. Another disappointment is that the mystery of Ember unfolds in an entirely predictable manner. There are no great surprises.

DuPrau's characterization of Doon is one dimensional. His spurts of rage create the only complexity in an otherwise flat character. Lina, on the other hand, rings true as a 12-year old throughout the book, with one exception: when her grandmother dies, Lina’s grieving process is so brief it feels like the author has ignored something very important.

The book’s strongest element was the setting, Ember. Throughout reading the book, I could see the dark, amber lights and the anxious people throughout the city. I hope DuPrau will learn from some of her mistakes and produce a stronger sequel—Ember is rich with possibilities for a greater story.
May 26, 2017
Σε αυτό το βιβλίο γραμμένο με ξεχωριστή δεξιοτεχνία ξετυλίγεται το κουβάρι της ανθρώπινης εξέλιξης σε συνθήκες εξαιρετικά δύσκολες για την ύπαρξη και την συνέχιση του ανθρώπινου είδους.

Το μήνυμα που πέρναει ειναι η θέληση για ζωή, ο φόβος μπροστά σε έναν επικείμενο αφανισμό λόγω των συνθηκών και παράλληλα το σθένος,η θέληση,το θάρρος των ανθρώπων για επιβίωση που αγωνίζονται με απαράμιλλη ευαισθησία για το καλό των συνανθρώπων τους
αλλά και εξαιρετική μαχητική διάθεση απέναντι στους διεφθαρμένους ισχυρούς ανθρώπους που κρύβουν την αλήθεια οικειοποιούνται δημόσια αγαθά και προσπαθούν κοντολογίς να προστατέψουν μόνο τα τομάρια τους αδιαφορώντας για το κοινό καλό και το μέλλον.

Οι μικροί πρωταγωνιστές δίνουν πραγματικά μαθήματα αγάπης συμπόνιας ανθρωπιάς και αλληλεγγύης μπαίνοντας σε μια άνιση μάχη ανάμεσα στους ίδιους και την εγκληματική αμέλεια και διαφθορά των αρχών της υπόγειας πολιτείας.

Μια πολιτεία που κάποτε ευημερούσε και ίσως κατάφερε πετύχει το σκοπό για τον οποίο δημιουργήθηκε, να σώσει το ανθρώπινο είδος. Όμως τώρα έχει αρχίσει η αντίστροφη μέτρηση και πρέπει οι κάτοικοι στα έγκατα της γης να ξεκινήσουν ταξίδι προς το φως της γης και της ζωής.

Τι υπάρχει στην επιφάνεια της γης όπου θα πρέπει να γίνει το νέο σπιτι των προσφύγων από τα βαθιά και σκοτεινά έγκατα δεν το ξέρουμε τελειώνοντας το πρώτο μέρος.

Στο δεύτερο μέρος Πέρα από το σκοτάδι θα ταξιδέψουμε παρέα με τους ήρωες μας για να ανακαλύψουμε και να παραδειγματιστούμε από τη δύναμη και το κουράγιο τους.
Εύχομαι να πετύχουν το καλύτερο και να λυτρώσουν όλους τους συμπολίτες τους που αγνοούν ακόμη και την ύπαρξη του ηλίου.

Καλή ανάγνωση !!
Πολλούς ασπασμούς.
Profile Image for Miss Nuding.
23 reviews7 followers
December 13, 2017
This books makes you appreciate even the smallest of things that you may take for granted. I look forward to seeing how the movie compares with the book!
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews47 followers
October 10, 2019
The City of Ember (Book of Ember #1), Jeanne DuPrau
Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…, but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness… But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?
The City of Ember is a post-apocalyptic primary-to-middle-grade science fiction novel by Jeanne DuPrau that was published in 2003. The story is about Ember, a city threatened by aging infrastructure. The young protagonist, Lina Mayfleet, and her friend, Doon Harrow (the second protagonist), follow clues left behind by the original builders of the City of Ember, to safety in the outside world.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دهم ماه اکتبر سال 2016 میلادی
عنوان: شهر امبر؛ نویسنده: جین دوپرا؛ مترجم: رباب پورعسگر؛ تهران: کتابسرای تندیس‏‫، ‏‫1394؛ در ؛ شابک: 9786001821479؛ موضع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 21 م

صدها سال پیش معمارها شهر اِمبر را ساختند و برای بقای بشر آن را پر از تمام چیزهایی کردند که مورد نیاز بود. این ایده عملی شد...؛ ولی حالا در انبارهای شهر، غذا تقریباً به پایان رسیده، محصولات کشاورزی فاسد شده، و این تباهی در حال پخش شدن در شهر است. و بدتر از همه‌ ی اینها به پایان رسیدن موجودی لامپ‌ها است. ممکن است شهر «اِمبر» به زودی غرق در تاریکی شود. ولی وقتی دو نوجوان به نام‌های «لینا» و «دون» تکه‌ پاره‌ های یک نوشته‌ ی کهن را کشف می‌کنند، برایشان این پرسش پیش می‌آید که: آیا راهی برای خروج از شهر اِمبر وجود دارد؟ آیا آنها می‌توانند آن نوشته‌ ی کهن را رمزگشایی کرده، و برای همگان، آینده‌ ای تازه بسازند؟ آیا مردمان شهر «اِمبر» به حرف آنها گوش خواهند داد؟ نقل از متن: «دستورالعمل ها: وقتی شهر امبر تازه ساخته شده بود و هنوز کسی در آن سکونت نداشت، معمار اصلی و دستیارش که خسته بودند، نشستند تا کمی در مورد آینده حرف بزنند. معمار اصلی گفت: «ساکنان شهر نباید حداقل تا دویست یا دویست و بیست سال شهر رو ترک کنن.» دستیارش پرسید: «این همه سال کافیه؟» - «باید باشه. نمیتونیم مطمئن باشیم.» دستیارش گفت: «و وقتی زمانش برسه اونها چطور متوجه میشن که چه کاری باید بکنند؟» معمار اصلی جواب داد: «خوب معلومه، دستورالعملها رو براشون میذاریم.» - «ولی کی از اون دستورالعملها قراره مواظبت کنه؟ به کی میتونیم اعتماد کنیم که این همه سال اونها رو مثل یک راز صحیح و سالم نگه داره؟» معمار اصلی جواب داد: «شهردار اونها رو نگه میداره. دستورالعملها رو توی جعبه ای با قفل زماندار میذاریم تا موقعیکه زمانش برسه و خودش باز بشه.» دستیار پرسید: «به شهردار میگیم که توی جعبه چی گذاشتیم؟» «نه، این اطلاعات به درد اونا نمیخوره و نباید اون دستورالعملها رو ببینن تا وقتیکه زمانش برسه و قفل جعبه خودش باز شه.» «پس یعنی اولین شهردار جعبه رو به شهردار بعدی و اون هم به نفر بعدی تحویل میده و سالها این روند ادامه پیدا میکنه و اونها تمام این مدت اون راز رو حفظ میکنن؟» معمار اصلی پرسید: «مگه کار دیگه ای هم میتونیم بکنیم؟ هیچ تلاشی توی این راه قطعی نیست. شاید تا اون موقع هیچ کسی توی شهر نمونده باشه یا اینجا هیچ جای امنی نمونده باشه تا برگردن.» بنابراین جعبه به اولین شهردار شهر امبر که یک خانم بود تحویل داده شد، و از او خواستند به دقت از جعبه محافظت کند و شهردار طی جلسه ای رسمی سوگند خورد، رازدار باشد. وقتی او پیر شد، و به عنوان شهردار وظیفه اش به پایان رسید، در مورد جعبه به جانشینش که شهردار جدید بود، توضیحاتی داد، و او هم جعبه را مثل یک راز نگه داشت، و همینطور نفر بعدی هم از آن جعبه محافظت کرد. سالها همه چیز همانطوری که برنامه ریزی شده بود پیش رفت. ولی هفتمین شهردار شهر امبر کمتر از قبلیها مورد اعتماد و دچار ناامیدی شده بود. او هم مثل بیشتر اهالی شهر که سرفه میکردند مبتلا به این بیماری شده بود، و خیال میکرد داخل جعبه چیزی محفوظ شده که میتواند زندگیش را نجات دهد. جعبه را از مخفیگاه که در زیرزمین سالن اجتماعات بود برداشت و به خانه اش برد و تلاش کرد آن را با چکش بشکند. ولی آنقدر قوی نبود که از پس جعبه بربیاید. حاصل تمام تلاشش برای باز کردن جعبه، فقط به جا گذاشتن کمی تورفتگی، روی در جعبه بود و قبل از اینکه بتواند جعبه را سر جایش برگرداند یا چیزی در مورد جعبه به شهردار بعدی بگوید از دنیا رفت. جعبه پشت گنجه ای و در میان چند کیسه و بقچه ی کهنه پنهان ماند. سالها گذشت و جعبه بدون اینکه کسی آن را ببیند و متوجه آن شود همانجا ماند، تا اینکه زمانش فرا رسید، و قفل جعبه آهسته و بیصدا باز شد.»؛ پایان نقل. ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Olivier Delaye.
Author 1 book221 followers
July 12, 2022
Before The Hunger Games (2008) there was The City of Ember (2003).

Well, that’s not exactly true because, to be completely honest about it, before HG there were the Japanese novel (1999) and then movie (2000) Battle Royale from which only the blind would say that HG isn’t based upon or at least heavily inspired by. Which, don’t get me wrong, is totally fine; inspiration comes in every shape and form, and if a great book/movie inspired HG author Suzanne Collins to write a great series, then more power to her and more fun to us readers. So all is good;-)

Back to CE, the reason why I compare it to HG is because when it came out it was to my knowledge the first post-apocalyptic YA to ever hit the market. In that, DuPrau can only be praised for her originality and avant-gardism. But there the comparison ends. Because if you’re looking for poor kids fighting for survival in a beat-up world, look somewhere else. CE is not about that. At all. Rather, it is more about discovery (both self- and world-), about not taking the truth that’s given to us unquestioningly and instead go and look for another one despite all the obstacles along the way. So again, if you're looking for point-blank survival, full-frontal fights and gruesome deaths, you're not going to get it in this book. In this sense it is a very clean and very-young-reader oriented story, which, however, doesn’t fail to catch the fancy of older readers as well, and thus transcends all age groups. The two main characters, Lina and Doon, are very real, very relatable and very likable; the story is very satisfactory, if somewhat a little slow-paced at times; the writing is very easy-reading and will never make you scratch your head in confusion; finally, the ending is great and will make you want to pick up book 2 right away.

Long story short, it’s a winner to me!

Author of the SEBASTEN OF ATLANTIS series
The Forgotten Goddess (Sebasten of Atlantis, #1) by Olivier Delaye
Profile Image for Shelly.
54 reviews10 followers
September 22, 2008
My 12 year old son just knew I would love this book. He's been hounding me to read it since... early last spring. Finally, I have read it and Jacob (my son) was right.

Omigosh. What first hooked me were the vivid character descriptions that show more than tell, so the reader can draw their own conclusions. The story is told in third person, limited in two different perspectives. Lina Mayfleet, twelve years old, sat "winding a strand of her long, dark hair around her finger, winding and unwinding it again and again." Doon Harrow, also twelve, "sat with his shoulder's hunched, his eyes aqueezed shut in concentration, and his hands clasped tightly together."

So I'm busy marking up my paperback copy for examples to share with my own students when it becomes more than a coincidence - that I'm noticing the similarities between Ember, the city, and the Community in Lois Lowry's The Giver. But then... there is just more and more and more. I especially loved the questioning, like Lina's friend Clary's "Where does life come from? What is life?" and Doon's father's words of wisdom that sound strangely familiar: "What you get is what you get. What you do with what you get, thought... that's more the point..." and "Pay close attention to everything, notice what no oneelse notices. Then you'll know what no one else knows, and that's always useful."
Profile Image for Christine.
38 reviews6 followers
November 11, 2008
(This is for my book report)

"The City of Ember" is all about these two regular kids saving their city. Doon and Lina had never thought of being twelve years old and getting jobs. Lina orriginaly got chosen to work in the sewers as a pipework's laborer,but Doon knew being a messenger wouldn't do anything to help save the city, so he traded with Lina. Luckily, Lina just so happened to be a super fast runner and that's why she thought messenger would be a perfect job for her. Doon wasn't the kind of boy who loved sports and computer games, he would rather be a quiet gentleman who paid attention to his bug collection all day long, spending more time at the library than on the couch, so it wasn't normal for Doon to scream to others,"The city of Ember is not prospering,in fact everything is getting worse and worse by the minute! The lights go out all the time now and the shortages, the shortages are getting low on everything! If no one does anything about it, something terrible is going to happen!" When Doon and Lina unite together to solve the mysteries of their city, they discover the truths of the past and the present. Some people aren't as trustworthy as they seem to be. When Doon and Lina figure out the last piece of the puzzle, they're stuck. How should the City of Ember know about the great discovery they had made? I would reccomend this book to anyone.

Profile Image for Aishu Rehman.
846 reviews771 followers
August 14, 2020
Very interesting and exciting. The City of Ember is a dramatic book and the three main characters, Lina, Doon, and Poppy find a dark tunnel where they find a box of matches. But they don't know what they are because they haven't discovered movable light yet! And I think it is very creative and if you want to know more, read The City of Ember!!!

The mayor is actually behind some of the problems of Ember. Looper, Lina's friend's boyfriend, and the mayor are hiding rare things such as light bulbs, food like peaches, and lots of long gone things. Lina and Doon find out and tell a guard but instead get hunted down for spreading vicious rumors. But, they go through the dark tunnel and find a way out of Ember and tell their parents, and the three run away from Ember leaving one message.
Profile Image for Kate Willis.
Author 19 books509 followers
January 8, 2019
2018/2019 Re-read
I got to read this book aloud to my youngest sister and introduce her to the world of Ember. She's a fan. ;)

Original Review
This year I rediscovered The City of Ember. Watching the movie with my siblings reminded me how much I loved the books, and I decided to start the series again. This time since I already knew the story I was free to slow down and enjoy every aspect of it. I could feel the impending doom of Ember with the rust and the mold and the damp and the blackouts. I could feel what it was like to hold your breath and count until the lights came back on with the absolute terror of not knowing where you were and what was going to happen next. I didn’t just enjoy Lina and Doon’s attempts to solve the riddle of the torn instructions, instead, I was rooting for them to find the way out.

Even though this was a fantasy book, the people and place names were never so odd that it detracted from the story but instead it gave the background development of people far removed from regular life but still holding onto aspects of it. Lina and Doon were written as real, live people with loves and hates, worries and hopes, and faults even too. A small metaphor that I had completely missed came out this time and left me smiling. Doon watching a worm build its cocoon and break free, Lina planting a seed and watching it sprout--metaphors of hope. (And a good explanation of the next book’s cover.) The author’s frank writing style still left room for poetry and I found myself experiencing the disorientation of and the wonder of ! I honestly cried at that one. ;)

Many readers have noticed the odd references in this book about religion. Side characters are heard wondering if there is a great Being watching over them and saying maybe or maybe not. Doon also wonders where life comes from and knows it’s a power greater than the Builders. The Believers are a group of people that aren’t in the book very much but do have the most “beliefs” of anyone. They claim to have seen the Builders coming again to “show them the way” in a dream. Now of course, which is a great case for humanism, isn’t it? Except...the Builders I think it’s positing an interaction between their own efforts and what has been provided for them. It’s really not a huge theme of the book, but I would recommend some parental guidance for younger readers who are not strong in what they believe.

Best quote(s): “The trouble with anger is, it gets hold of you. And then you aren't the master of yourself anymore. Anger is. And when anger is the boss, you get unintended consequences.”

“Wouldn't it be strange, she thought, to have a blue sky? But she liked the way it looked. It would be beautiful - a blue sky.”

I very much enjoyed this book and can’t wait to start re-reading the second one! Definitely a great series. ;)
Profile Image for Marvin.
1,414 reviews5,331 followers
September 11, 2011
I am sort of a late-comer with Young Adult novels. I blame it on my age. When I was a teenager in the 60s there was no real level between children and adult literature. Teen literature was a bit of a no man's land. I didn't realize there might actually be real literature in YA until I read the Harry Potter series. Since then, I've dabble a bit with the genre and discovered some gems: The Hunger Games series, Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, and Dan Wells' John Wayne Cleaver series. Of course there are plenty of duds too (Hello, Twilight!). Yet I am more willing to explore in this field than I was before.

The City of Ember was our book club pick precisely because some members wanted to add a YA read to our repertoire. I was looking forward to it due to the great press it has receive. If I read this in my teens I would have been Ga-Ga Ape Shit over this book and possibly the entire series. Jeanne DuPrau is a very good writer and does a beautiful job in bringing this fantasy city to life. Yet, as an adult and reviewer, I need to relate this to other books in the same genre. While DuPrau kept my attention, the resolution of this story became fairly obvious and, frankly, a little lame if you are familiar with other sci-fi tales. I don't want to give it away but I expected more. I also had some serious logic problems on why the obviously intelligent Builders would devise such a flawed method for delivering a two hundred year old message. Or how the inhabitants of the city never received or never devised portable lights. Fortunately the characters of Lina and Doon were enough to keep me interested and this is where the story gets its success; from the realness and energy of these two adolescents. Nonetheless, compared to books of similar YA genres like The Hunger Games, this novel comes out a little tame. Still, it is a good story and I would have no problems recommending it to a young teen audience.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,231 reviews115 followers
December 1, 2008
I asked my best friend what kinds of books his children were reading (I'm always looking for books for my niece) and he said his oldest son had read and enjoyed the City of Ember series. So much so that he'd passed them along to his parents, who had read them and found them interesting as well. Add to it a movie coming out and I decided I would give the series a try.

The City of Ember exists inside the darkness, where it's always night. Darkness is held at bay twelve hours a day by artifical light, though the electricity is becoming sporadic and the city is running out of replacement bulbs. Founded many years before, there was some instructions on how to leave the darkness left behind but lost by one of the city's mayors. The city is facing shortages of supplies and the residents live in a sense of paranoia that the lights will go out forver, plunging them into enternal darkness.

It's a fascinating premise for a novel and one that begs a lot of questions, especially when you find certain things about Ember in the novel's final pages. The story follows two children, Doon and Lina, who have completed their schooling and have been given new jobs. Doon wants to fix the city and trades to have a job in the underside of the city, hoping to explore the mystery of Ember. Lina gets a job as a messenger and is able to run across the city, taking messages back and forth and discovering the full extend of the shortags to come. The two eventually begin to share their knowledge and piece together just what's going on in Ember. They also find a bit of the original instructions and try to fanthom what they mean (Lina's younger sibling eats part of them).

Lina and Doon discover there's more going on that meets the eye. The Mayor is a corrupt individual, hoarding resources for himself and seeking to discredit or lock up anyone who discovers otherwise. Lina and Doon are soon on a path to being rebels and forced to flee into the darkness surrounding the City.

A fascinating, compelling story that left me with a lot of questions and some good answers. The book is satisfying in that if offers resolution to some questions but leaves the door open for natural follow-ups.
Profile Image for Sara Saif.
544 reviews224 followers
August 3, 2018

I loved it! I remember seeing the film years ago and enjoying it so much. On a whim I decided to read the book and I was fascinated by it! What I savoured most of all was the mood and tone of the book. There's this feeling of doom, claustrophobia and being smothered that permeates everything and it made the book so exciting.

The City of Ember, made by the Builders two and a half centuries ago, is slowly but surely declining. The supplies are running out and the generator powered by the river that flows under the city which in turn powers the whole city is failing. The people feel trapped but have nowhere to go. Two 12 year olds, Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow, find a clue left by the Builders and slowly unravel the mystery that may possibly lead to an escape from the dying city.

Can't wait to read the rest of the books.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,743 reviews6,670 followers
June 16, 2016
The City of Ember is an engaging children's fiction novel that introduces young readers to courageous characters who take steps to make change happen. The author Jeanne DuPrau writes age-appropriate fantasy/dystopia with mystery, action, adventure, and an exciting cliffhanger that keeps kids interested in the series. My son absolutely LOVES this book! Loves it so much he doesn't want to watch the film adaption for fear of ruining his reading experience (he has learned this lesson early in life LOL). As soon as he finished reading his library copy, he took his allowance money to buy the book so he can own it (I'm SOOOOO proud!). I read this book along with him and I have to say it was pretty good! If you have a young person in your care that needs some reading recommendations, offer this title for them to consider! It is the first of four books so it should keep readers busy for a while.

#1:The City of Ember
#2:The People of Sparks
#3:The Prophet of Yonwood
#4:The Diamond of Darkhold
The City of Ember: The Graphic Novel
The City of Ember (Book of Ember, #1) by Jeanne DuPrau The People of Sparks (Book of Ember, #2) by Jeanne DuPrau The Prophet of Yonwood (Book of Ember, #3) by Jeanne DuPrau The Diamond of Darkhold (Book of Ember, #4) by Jeanne DuPrau The City of Ember The Graphic Novel by Jeanne DuPrau

Interest Level
Grades 6 - 8

Reading Level
Grade level Equivalent: 5.1
Lexile® Measure: 680L
DRA: 60
Guided Reading: W

Type of Book
Chapter Book

Mystery and Suspense

Family Life
Courage, Bravery, Heroism
Leadership and Responsibility
Friends and Friendship

What do you do when your fifth grader tells you he's reading the greatest book ever and he wants you to try it? You do whatever it takes to find that book and you read it with him. Enthusiasm is contagious...and supporting a child's love for reading is priceless.

Review to come...once I finish this strongly recommended book :)

Profile Image for AziaMinor.
471 reviews58 followers
August 3, 2021
Overall Rating : B-

"Ours is the only light in a dark world."


This book got me out of a horrific reading slump so that counts as an extra star right?

Definitely made for a younger audience but it still holds up on it's own merit. When all you know of your world is the city you live in and the dark unknown just beyond, two kids discover that there might be a way to save everyone when the lights start to fail. And in less than 300 pages, it gives you all of that and just a little bit more.

Read this in elementary school and had to pick it up again when I saw it at the library. I might watch the movie as well, but you know how well they hold up to their counterparts so....

A great book when you want to feel lucky you live out in an open world!
Profile Image for Alice.
196 reviews19 followers
September 10, 2008
This juvenile allegory reminded me greatly of The Giver. Just as at the start of The Giver, the young people of the community of Ember receive their future work assignments, a device which quickly pulls the young reader into the story. Now almost adults, Lina and Doon are able to view their community with fresh eyes, and discover that the generator, the source of electric power on which the town depends, is soon to be exhausted. This will plunge the city into complete darkness. The children discover a secret coded message, leading to a possible escape for the dying town.

The heart of the allegory is in the different responses by various citizens to their town's problem: those who deny the problem, those who wait blindly for rescue, those who selfishly hoard as many goods for themselves as they can. It is easy to make application to various groups in our own society. Lina and Doon are among the few who actively search for a positive solution. Even within their own hearts they struggle with conflicts of fear and pride, which might have hindered the saving of the city.

An excellent story which made me eager for the next book in the series!
Author 0 books249 followers
October 18, 2016
I wish I had read this book some time before.

Lina and Doon are intelligent and curious, which makes the story interesting.

The letter in the end of this book was thrilling to read.

Author 5 books617 followers
April 7, 2015
A terrific book, simply and beautifully written. I like books that make it clear there is (or could be, or should be) a sequel in the works, but that don't drive the reader out of her mind by not answering any of the questions raised at the very beginning. (I'm sure it's not just YA books that often do this, but they're what I'm reading most lately.) Also, I was glad to see lots and lots of female characters of all ages, interests, and abilities -- and I don't think anyone's "accusing" this of being a "girl" book.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,095 reviews17.7k followers
May 5, 2017
This book is honestly fairly meh. The action is slightly lukewarm; in fact, nothing much happens for ages. The characters are nothing special. Lila and Doon are both flat as can be. In general, the book is just fairly meh.

That being said, there's something fairly entertaining about this book. It's got that sweet emotional realness of so many middle grade books.

I wouldn't read this as an adult, but for middle grade readers, this is definitely a solid read.
Profile Image for Penny Wood.
67 reviews25 followers
November 29, 2019
FINALLY finished this one! Definitely amazing!

Absolutely LOVED following Lina and Doon through Ember and their escape. Plotting, worldbuilding, characters were really excellent!

Will most likely not be reading the prequel to this, but perhaps People Of The Sparks and the one after that!

Note: WATCH THE MOVIE! It's wonderful and actually pretty close to the book as in terms of following the plot!
Profile Image for Megan.
797 reviews76 followers
January 14, 2021
I really really love the idea of a post-disaster society of people living underground. And I especially love the idea of reading about that society several generations in, where they no longer remember what daylight is, or why the city they live in is theren- or even where exactly their city is. I like the idea of this society making up their own myths about 'the dark' and having new origin stories and singing songs amid candles lit against the ever-present night. However, all those enchanting pieces of The City of Ember are just tiny footnote details in what's really a fairly decent adventure story. The setting of an underground sort of steampunk like society surviving post-collapse without any connections to their past is merely the place where this book begins. I really enjoyed this story, and am excited to read more in the series, but I wish this book had been about twice as long and had about three times the depth. I really feel like the author here was on the verge of creating a whole new world, maybe not with the intricacy and pull of the Harry Potter universe, but something heading in that direction. Instead everything - setting and plot and characters et cetera - is at a pretty basic level and merely serves as the dressing around the main story, which is a somewhat didactical examination of the ills of society and scarcity mentality hidden inside an engaging adventure story of two plucky pre-teens trying to save their people.
Profile Image for Jonathan Terrington.
595 reviews572 followers
January 22, 2013

There are some books which, when you read them, hold you in a spell with their unique charm and voice. This was one of those children's books, read at a time in which I devoured everything considered suitable reading. I've never read the sequels however as the way in which this book ended was left open to my imagination and to continue in such a way would ruin the magic of this novel. Recommended out of that nostalgic time known as childhood.
Profile Image for Owen.
9 reviews2 followers
February 21, 2008
I'm currently reading this book, I was at the library and just picked it up not really knowing what it was about. Anyway, as soon as I started reading it I couldn't stop. It's one of those books that you cant put down. Infact I have been late for school a few days because I stay up so late reading it.
It's not a very large book. But the story is incredible!
From what i've read so far it is about a girl who lives in a strange city called Ember, where there is no such thing as the sun. The whole city is lit by lights. Because 300 years ago, people called the builders decided to create the place. Ember is now in danger of dying away, because all the supplies are running out (the builders built giant storage places and filled them with supplies) And nobody knows how to make anything themselves. Another problem is the generator, recently their have been frequent power failures that last only minutes, but without the power their is no way to see, or do anything. Then one day the main girl finds a strange letter that seems to have been written by the builders. I wont say anymore, as to not spoil it.
Profile Image for Selene.
618 reviews135 followers
March 4, 2021
Second Read: February 1, 2021 - March 3, 2021
3 Stars
I read this with my grade five class and they also enjoyed it more than I did.

First Read: March 7, 2018 - April 13, 2018
3 Stars
I read this to my grade six class and they enjoyed it more than I did.
Profile Image for Audrey.
1,075 reviews165 followers
September 24, 2023

The City of Ember is alone in the world. Light bulbs provide the only source of light. But the city is starting to wear out and supplies are running low. Lina and Doon, 12-year-old recent graduates of school, are the only ones willing and able to solve the problem.

It’s a mystery with a race against time. As a children’s story, it’s pretty straightforward, but it’s creative and done well. As a plot-driven story, the characters are not complex. Doon is always irritated. Lina is always trying to be cheerful and barely bats an eye at relatives’ death. I think I saw the movie first; it follows the book quite well but makes the ending more dramatic.

The audio narration is pretty good, if old-school. The most annoying thing was the way the mayor’s dialogue would pause every three words for the super-fat mayor to catch his breath.

Language: Clean
Sexual Content: None
Violence/Gore: None
Harm to Animals:
Harm to Children:
Other (Triggers):
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