The City of Ember

By Jeanne DuPrau,

Book cover of The City of Ember

Book description

Ember is the only light in a dark world. But when its lamps begin to flicker, two friends must race to escape the dark. This highly acclaimed adventure series is a modern-day classic-with over 4 MILLION copies sold!

The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked The City of Ember as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The central theme running through the book’s post-apocalyptic landscape is a series of clues that must be solved, in true mystery fashion. Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow follow the signs left behind by the original builders of the underground City of Ember to escape to the outside world. Along the way, the reader is pulled further and further into the story, trying to understand this strange world and decipher the meaning of the clues alongside our intrepid heroes. Also thrown in is some old-fashioned political corruption to add to the mystery feel.

I came across this story when I was selected, very unexpectedly, as an extra for the movie version of the novel The City of Ember, to be made in Belfast. It was a remarkable coincidence, because I had been researching and working on an idea for a sci-fi/fantasy adventure series for a number of months.

The film and the book tell how a boy and a girl, living in an underground city created hundreds of years earlier, attempt to find a way to escape back to the Earth’s surface, using their discovery of an ancient manuscript.

Meeting the wonderful…

This book is closer to MG than YA, but great all the same. It takes place underground and the lights keep going out. How creepy is that! I couldn’t wait to find out why they were down there and see if they could get out! While I was reading it, I kept wondering what happened? What made them go underground, and why did they stay? I won’t tell you what happens, but I will say this book was thought-provoking and a really fascinating read.

The premise of this book is the first thing that drew me in – the city of Ember is shrouded in darkness, and the lamps that provide the only light have begun to dim. Two kids discover an ancient message that may help them save the city while also revealing its mysterious origins. I found myself racing to the end of this book to discover the secrets of Ember, and, like a lightbulb flickering to life in a dark room, the payoff was incredibly satisfying.  

From Christyne's list on for children with mind-blowing plot twists.

This book often gets overlooked because of its “juvenile” stigma, however, there’s much more than the cover! The characters are on the younger side, but the worldbuilding is great through their eyes. Readers get a good feel for how the underground society works and provides a good glimpse into some things we take for granted. While later books in the series get further away from the underground world, it’s all worth a read.

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