Like The Divide, which I reviewed last week, City of Ember was an accidental book selection. While avoiding as much work as possible after a very grueling week of meetings, I ran to my friend's classroom and chose the first book off of her shelf that I remembered her loving-City of Ember was it. Needless to say I spent a much more enjoyable afternoon with Lina and Doon than I would have organizing the destruction the substitute did to my room!
Lina and Doon are the two protagonists of this YA novel by Jeanne DuPrau. It is the story of the City of Ember-the only city in the world, as far as the residents know. The sky is always black, and there are no stars or moon. If the lights fail, there is total darkness. And that's something that has been happening more often lately, the lights failing. Lina and Doon, two young residents, just out of school at 12 years old with their first jobs, discover that things in Ember are even worse than everyone thinks, and they try to discover a way out of the coming darkness.
I think this book, the first in a series of four, is very well-written and engaging. The protagonists are likable and relateable. When Lina finds a rare set of colored pencils in a city where supplies are running low, you feel the same excitement. The author does such a good job putting you into the scarcity of the City of Ember that when one of the characters discovers a can of peaches (considered a treat akin to dining at Le Cirque to the residents of Ember), my mouth actually tasted the sweet, syrupy, slightly metallic taste myself. The action is well-paced, though most of the real action happens pretty quickly towards the end of the book. It didn't feel slow to start though, because DuPrau did such a good job setting the scene and letting suspense build.
While I enjoyed this book quite a bit, and plan on reading the next one, I found that there was a lack of global themes. In a dystopian novel such as this I expect a little bit more social commentary, even from a YA book. But seeing the way the story arc is going, I suspect that some of that will be addressed in upcoming novels, and I am looking forward especially to reading the prequel, to find out what on earth caused this bizarre set of circumstances! If you like YA fiction for the middle school set, you should check this series out.