Monday, December 31, 2007

City of Ember: Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: City of Ember
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Genre: Fiction, Juvenile Fiction ages 9-12

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Why I read this book: A homeschool/public school/private school mom friend of mine highly recommended this book as a read aloud suitable for ages seven through teens. However our taste in children’s literature is quite different so I didn’t know if I should take her word that the book was fantastic.

Based on the praise of the book I attended two lectures of the author at the Rabbit Hill Festival of Literature held in October 2007. I really enjoyed heating what the author had to say and decided I should read the book. I read the book to myself and was going to then decide if this was a book for a read-aloud or if I’d have my ten year old read this as part of his reading practice.

The best part about this book was that as soon as the story began I felt immersed in the story. I wanted to know what was going to happen next and the book kept me awake at night as I read long after everyone else in the house was asleep. Also the way the book was written, I felt like I was inside the story and living it along with the characters. I was rooting them on and wishing them the best in their journey.

The book is set in a world in which after destruction of the environment, a safe haven, temporary shelter was made underground for some humans to go inhabit until the world was safe to emerge and to resume living on the surface.

Without giving too much of the story away I will share that the resources underground are depleting and the quality of life is getting pretty poor. A girl and a boy seek a way to get out.

The book is suspenseful in a good way. The pair are uncovering clues and trying to put the pieces together to figure out if there is a world outside what they know and if so, how they might be able to get out.

I was wondering if the book was going to be about how humans are wrecking the Earth and using the book as a bit of propaganda to try to scare children into becoming better stewards of the Earth than some people have been. That was not the case.

After this book was published, a sequel was published called The People of Sparks. The third book in the series is a prequel titled The Prophet of Yonwood. The author told us at the Festival that the fourth and last book will be released in mid-2008 and will feature the original two characters that were in “City of Ember”.

I felt this was a good story to read and I’d give it 3 stars or 3.5 out of 5. It is what I’d call a good book of fiction that fits the bill as being ‘escape reading’. It is not stellar literature (which would be a rating of a 5, which is what I’d put the Chronicles of Narnia into). I didn’t feel there were major lessons to be learned or that the book was ‘lifting children’s hearts up” and that is why I didn’t give it a 4 star rating.

I am sure that many girls and boys would love this story. If this story gets kids reading then that is a great thing and a wonderful reason for a children’s book to exist.

I know my ten year old son will love this story. I think I’ll have him read it to himself.

I now also own the second and third books in the series and plan to read those in the near future to see how the whole story pans out. I have no clue what others are saying about these books as frankly I’ve not spent time reading book reviews and critiques.

I will say that at the Rabbit Hill Festival of Literature I heard many compliments and praises being given by school teachers and children’s librarians telling of how much the children they work with have enjoyed and loved DuPrau’s books.

Lastly I will say that there were no issues in the book that I feel are inappropriate for children (unlike so many other books which are filled with what in my opinion is overly mature themes.

The only thing that is a good talking point for some families is how the group of people who believe that a world other than the one they live in exists are called The Believers who act in some ways that today’s Christians behave in relation to practicing their religious beliefs (singing praise, praying, gathering in groups of like-minded people to discuss their beliefs). In the book these people are laughed at a bit but in the end they are right so who is the joke on then?

Book Two

Book Three (a prequel)

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Amber said...

I'm an official ambassador for the upcoming movie City of Ember (10/10/08). I see that you enjoy the book! I loved it, and I'm coming to you first because I have some exclusive first-look pictures that you might enjoy and share with your blog readers.
Email me if you want them, I'd love to share them with you.
Bill Murray looks great as the villainous Mayor Cole.
I really think you'd like City of Ember because of your clear enthusiasm towards the novel!
Would love to be in touch!
Amber Baynor
Official Ambassador

Carrie Rae said...

My son's school is planning to include this book in a 4th grade book club. Your review has helped me decide to allow him to be a part of the club, as I do not have enough time to read it before the book club starts. Thank You!!!