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

The City of Ember

by Jeanne DuPrau

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau X
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2003, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2004, 270 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Part mystery, part adventure story, this novel provides science fiction for those who do not like science fiction. Ages 9+

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 ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

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.

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.

Reader Reviews

Anonymous

Very well wrote
This masterpiece by Jeanne DuPrau is very good for dystopian fans. Very good voice and choice of words. A very satisfying ending. Five Out of Five!!!

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’s 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. ;))

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Jeanne DuPrau

If you liked The City of Ember, try these:

  • Lionboy jacket

    Lionboy

    by Zizou Corder

    Published 2004

    About this book

    From an exciting new mother/daughter writing team comes the first part of a captivating adventure trilogy full of heroes, villains, and astounding events.

  • The House of The Scorpion jacket

    The House of The Scorpion

    by Nancy Farmer

    Published 2002

    About this book

    More books by this author

    With undertones of vampires, Frankenstein, dragons' hoards, and killing fields, Matt's story turns out to be an inspiring tale of friendship, survival, hope, and transcendence. A must-read for teenage fantasy fans.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes

Books with similar themes


Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Women Talking
    Women Talking
    by Miriam Toews
    Miriam Toews' Women Talking is a circadian novel, unfolding over a span of just a few hours and ...
  • Book Jacket: Confessions of an Innocent Man
    Confessions of an Innocent Man
    by David R. Dow
    It is circumstance that carries the wave that sweeps trendy Houston restaurateur Rafael Zhettah to ...
  • Book Jacket: Memories of the Future
    Memories of the Future
    by Siri Hustvedt
    I've never kept a journal, but my mother has written in hers for years, the annual volumes she's ...
  • Book Jacket: Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
    Professor Chandra Follows His Bliss
    by Rajeev Balasubramanyam
    Rajeev Balasubramanyam encapsulates the theme of Professor Chandra Follows his Bliss in its first ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Affairs of the Falcóns
    by Melissa Rivero

    A beautiful, urgent novel about the lengths one woman is willing to go to build a new life.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    When We Left Cuba
    by Chanel Cleeton

    An exhilarating historical novel from the author of Next Year in Havana, a Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones

A masterpiece of storytelling, and a 2018 Oprah's Book Club Selection.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win Ecstasy

Win copies to share with friends or your book club!

Ecstasy reveals the true Alma Mahler: composer, author, daughter, mother, wife, lover, and muse.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A B Penny A T U

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.