The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau is an excellent and unique novel. You don’t put the pieces together until you actually find out what’s been happening at the end and by the time you’re finished you’re clenching your teeth thinking: “Gahhhh! I have to get the other book now!” What I like about this novel is the puzzle solving. You’re solving the puzzle with them as the story progresses and I think it’s rather neat because it feels like you’re in the plot as well.
It’s certainly a very different world. Ember is a dying city where blackouts happen frequently and no one has ever ventured into “Unknown Regions” because it’s all darkness and there’s no such thing as portable light. It’s hard to describe the city but it’s one where everything seems to be recycled. Even scrap wood parts and pieces of yarn because they have a limited amount of supplies and it’s dwindling fast (pencil crayons go for premium here!). It’s certainly hard to imagine a city such as this where they don’t even know what candles are (you’ll see if you read this book).
There’s a lot of mystery and unanswered questions, naturally as this is the first book. However I think it’s a great buildup of action and intrigue that makes it a great fast read. It’s certainly a quick one, as I started last Sunday and haven’t picked it up until today and finished it all. It certainly was interesting enough to go through an entire evening reading. I think it’s because the setting is different and there’s enough plot to keep your interested. The characters are likable enough as the two main ones (Lina and Doon are very outspoken and individualistic which makes them stand out from the rest of them). I think it’s rather nice to just have two central characters in this book, too many would have ruined it and would have made things all muddle and confusing.
I don’t know how you would classify this novel? it’s not really fantasy because there’s nothing to call it “fantasy” could it be a dystopian novel somewhat? because of the city dying, a greedy mayor, and a lot of underhanded people looking out for themselves? perhaps. It’s just hard to put this book in any kind of genre.
Be sure to pick this book up if you’re into something different! I give at a 7 out of 10.