Review: The City of Ember

I read this book in a day, which is a sure sign that I loved the book. I could not put it down. I know some might frown upon me for my love of YA books, but I really  enjoy reading them.  A good story, is a good story no matter who the audience is that is written for. Adults and children alike both love Harry Potter, despite the fact the latter was the target audience.  The story is a tale of one of my favorite things, what it means to be human, and what it means to live.

Our story takes place in the underground City of Ember.  Ember was built for its inhabitants by the Builders, and according to these inhabitants, Ember is the only light left in a dark, dead world.  Instructions were placed in a timed lockbox, that when the time was right for them to move, would open and tell them what to do.  The box was to be passed down from Mayor to Mayor, and somewhere along the way was forgotten about, and left in a closet.  Our main characters, Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow are two 12-year old’s who are on their graduation day of school to speak, and are assigned jobs.  They eventually trade one another jobs, and in these jobs, learn more about their city then they suspect. The power in the city is generated by a generator which is run by the river.  In the beginning where the city was full of supplies, and stocked with everything they would need for a multitude of years, but now Ember is slowly dying. Their supplies are running out, and the lightbulbs are running out, and with periodic power outages, our characters are afraid of the day the power dies forever. The story takes us on an adventure of faith, intuition, hope and bravery.

I really can’t sing the praise enough. Upon finishing the book, I immediately went online to look up the rest of the books in the series. I will be purchasing the rest of them as soon as I can, so that I can finish my affair with this series and breath again. That’s the sign to me, that a book or series is good- when I can’t wait to turn the page, when I can’t wait to finish it and see how it ends, when I become invested in the characters and their journey.

Even though our characters are written as 12-year-old’s, the situations they are in seem a bit more mature, such as Lina playing the role of an adult in her household, with her ailing grandmother who obviously has Alzheimer’s, and her toddler sister. While some people may complain that Lina and Doon are flat in character, I think that is kind of the point. They are in the awakening of discovering who they are, and what better way than to discover what you are made of then to embark on this spiritual, faith driven journey. How does the bean seedling become a plant? how does it know to become a plant? these are questions asked in the story, that a child or student might pick up a metaphor, but as I read it with my adult eyes, I see the bigger metaphor.  The theme of life and faith are huge in this book, what it means to live, and what it means to believe in something better than what you are told exists.  In some ways, it reminded me of Stephenie Meyer’s The Host, with the story being about these underground dwelling humans, and the question of what it means to be human and live. Obviously, The Host was written for an older audience, as Stephenie Meyer herself said it was an adult novel and not a YA novel, but it still felt very much like her YA novels.  I don’t want to give too much away, spoilers and all, but I can say that I was pleasantly surprised at how much I adored the book, and am really looking forward to continuing the series.

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