Book Review: “The City of Ember (Books of Ember #1)”

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“The City of Ember (Books of Ember #1)” by Jeanne DuPrau

Genre: Children’s Fiction,  Dystopia, Science Fiction

Source: Bought

Summary from Goodreads:

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 was a really fun children’s book! I didn’t know much about the book when I bought it from Borders but for a couple bucks I’d try it.

Ember was a really interesting idea. It’s a city underground and the city’s only light comes from lamps. The people of the city have been living this way for almost 200 years so they don’t see anything weird about it. The author did a good job of making the characters believable when talking about things that they rarely see (foods, bugs, tools) but the reader is completely familiar with.

Lina and Doon are a good team. I think they were paired well and are good complements of each other. They didn’t “need” each other in order to be whole. It just makes things easier to have the other one to help. I really appreciated the fact that Lina was able to do so much on her own. She found the message and figured it a good portion of it by herself. She played a sleuth and found good evidence. She didn’t just wait for Doon to do all the work and then simply follow his lead. She took charge of her problems. Yay!

Though the reader gets a good impression of the city these people live in, there are still questions left unanswered. I still want to know why these people are living underground. What happened to “the builders”? The book is the first of a series so I supposed these questions will be answered in time.

I’ve been reading most dystopian books recently and this is the first children’s dystopian book I’ve read. (Well, I probably read some as a kid but obviously I wouldn’t have known what a dystopia was at the time.) It was very cool. It’s definitely not “watered down”. It’s still scary but it’s scary in a way that children can understand. Kids are able to see how the problems are going to affect the citizens of Ember. It doesn’t need to be explained to them.

Rating 4/5

It’s a fun book for kids AND adults. It’s not too childish for the adults out there. If I ever get my TBR pile down, I’d pick up the next book.

3 thoughts on “Book Review: “The City of Ember (Books of Ember #1)”

  1. I think the premise of the book sounds interesting. I want to know why they live underground with only lamps for light, why the lamps are flickering, and what that means for the people living in Ember. I completely understand what you mean about getting your TBR list pared down.

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