Saturday, December 24, 2011

The City of Ember - Jeanne DuPrau (Ember Series #1)

I'm always on the look out for a good YA novel.  Even better if it's part of a series.  This one was recommended to me by my friend Sara, a middle-school teacher who is always keeping a look-out for what the kids are reading.  The main characters is Lina, a 12-year old girl who is being raised by her aging grandmother.  Right off the bat, a female protagonist appeals to me - and you know any good YA hero can't have any parents in the picture.  Lina lives in a place called Ember - and it's clear from the beginning that something is going wrong.  The electricity keeps going out, and no one seems to know how to fix it.  Supplies seem low, with food running out every day.  Doon, a classmate of Lina's speaks out about the problems - he is quickly labeled as a troublemaker, but intent on  figuring out how to solve the town's electrical issues.  It is then that Lina stumbles upon a very old set of instructions - she can only partially read it (her infant sister Poppy found and ate the instructions first).  No one will believe what's she found, and she herself is labeled a troublemaker.  But together, she and Doon are determined to figure out the message and save their city from ruin.  It's a YA novel, so of course it was a fast read, and it's a bit simplistic in plot and dialogue.  In this sense, I feel like while the characters are 12 year olds, this could be read by someone a couple years younger.  I always like messages that need to be decoded, and of course the ubiquitous plot device of children outsmarting the adults.  There are currently 4 books in this series (and I guess it's also been made into a movie - with Lina played by the girl who played the lead in The Lovely Bones).  It's not as gripping as something like The Hunger Games, but I'm sure I'll finish out the series in the new year.

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