Note this is a prequel of the City of Ember series. I don’t think it’s really that necessary to read this one, so you could skip this and just read the fourth book (Diamond of Darkhold) and then read this one. As to why the author decided to write a prequel in the middle of the series, on Jeanne DuPrau’s website, she states:
“When I wrote The City of Ember, I didn’t expect to be writing a sequel, much less a prequel. The idea of telling a story that led up to the building of the city didn’t occur to me until quite a bit later.”
It’s 50 years before the settlement of the city of Ember, and the world is in crisis. War looms on the horizon as 11-year-old Nickie and her aunt travel to the small town of Yonwood, North Carolina. There, one of the town’s respected citizens has had a terrible vision of fire and destruction. Her garbled words are taken as prophetic instruction on how to avoid the coming disaster. If only they can be interpreted correctly. . . . As the people of Yonwood scramble to make sense of the woman’s mysterious utterances, Nickie explores the oddities she finds around town—her great-grandfather’s peculiar journals and papers, a reclusive neighbor who studies the heavens, a strange boy who is fascinated with snakes—all while keeping an eye out for ways to help the world. Is this vision her chance? Or is it already too late to avoid a devastating war? (From Goodreads)
You’d have to keep in mind, this is a prequel. So none of the characters in previous books will be featured in the book. It took me a bit to get used to this, but the main storyline was interesting. I liked Nickie, but there were times when I didn’t. Although it wasn’t entirely her fault (due to the brainwashing), you’d think at her age (11) she might be able to tell what’s right or wrong. So I thought she acted way younger than she is, and was just a little too naive.
There were also times where I couldn’t help but feel angry. I couldn’t stand Brenda. I wanted to choke her out of the book. It’s these kinds of people that blow everything out of proportion and made the situation more dangerous and harmful than it really is. When the incident with the dogs happened this was where I just about had it with her and wanted a bomb to drop on her house.
Despite my intense dislike for this character, I liked how the book shows the reader how this sort of situation can show the worst (and the best) characteristics in individuals. I bothers me a little, that this really has nothing to do with Ember (until you find out much later, near the end of the book) and it may annoy readers as it’s oddly placed in the middle of the series, and some might argue that it’s not a prequel at all.
The plot was good, although it was slow moving. You’re more than halfway through the book and the plot is still crawling. My suggestion, is to skip this book and read the fourth one, then read this one. You won’t be missing much anyway. It’s not the best I’ve read from the author but it’s readable if one wants to complete the series.
I give it a 6 out of 10.