Summary and book reviews of The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

The City of Ember

By Jeanne DuPrau

The City of Ember
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  • Hardcover: May 2003,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: May 2004,
    270 pages.

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Book Summary

The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she's sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever! This stunning debut novel offers refreshingly clear writing and fascinating, original characters.

The Instructions

When the city of Ember was just built and not yet inhabited, the Chief Builder and the Assistant Builder, both of them weary, sat down to speak of the future.

"They must not leave the city for at least two hundred years," said the Chief Builder. "Or perhaps two hundred and twenty."

"Is that long enough?" asked his Assistant.

"It should be. We can't know for sure."

"And when the time comes," said the Assistant, "how will they know what to do?"

"We'll provide them with instructions, of course," the Chief Builder replied.

"But who will keep the instructions? Who can we trust to keep them safe and secret all that time?"

"The mayor of the city will keep the ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
The City of Ember is the only light in the dark world. Beyond Ember, the darkness goes on forever in all directions. When the children of the city of Ember finish school, they begin work at 12 years of age. . . .

Lina Mayfleet desperately wants to be a messenger. Messengers spend their days outside, running from one corner of the city to the other. Instead, she draws the dreaded job of Pipeworks laborer, which means she’ll be stuck in tunnels deep underground.

Doon Harrow draws messenger—and asks to trade with Lina! Doon wants to be underground. That’s where the generator is, and Doon has ideas about how to fix it. For as long as anyone can remember, the great lights of Ember have kept the endless ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews
School Library Journal - John Peters

Gr 4-7. The setting may not be so ingeniously envisioned as those of, say, Joan Aiken's Is Underground (Turtleback, 1995) and Lois Lowry's The Giver (Houghton, 1993), but the quick pace and the uncomplicated characters and situations will keep voracious fans of the genre engaged.

Kirkus Reviews

The setting is well-realized with the constraints of life in the city intriguingly detailed. The likable protagonists are not only courageous but also believably flawed by human pride, their weaknesses often complementing each other in interesting ways. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers clamoring for the next installment. Ages 9-13.

USA Today

DuPrau's first foray into fiction creates a realistic post-apocalyptic world where everyone has lived underground for so long that they assume it has always been that way. . . . Reminiscent of post-apocalypse fiction like Robert O'Brien's Z for Zachariah, DuPrau's book leaves Doon and Lina on the verge of the undiscovered country and readers wanting more.

VOYA

Starred Review. While Ember is colorless and dark, the book itself is rich with description. . . . Part mystery, part adventure story, this novel provides science fiction for those who do not like science fiction.

Reader Reviews
Janice

Thoroughly enjoyed, Recommend to anyone
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The City of Ember. The storyline follows the standard tale of adolescent children who are brave and smart enough to try and solve their people‚Äôs problem. Even though the story has that same skeletal structure, the plot ...   Read More

Zach

The city ofEmber
One of the greatest books I have read, for ages 9-13.

Inga

Fantastic book
This book is full of surprises and it is very interesting. ;))

sajiya

city of ember
I think the City of Ember is the most amazing book I have ever read.

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