Booktalk: The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

City of Ember cover

I was an enormous fan of The City of Ember when it first came out.  This would be a great book to recommend to older children and younger teens who are looking for dystopian fiction books but don’t want a dystopian romance.  You can visit Jeanne DuPrau’s website to learn more about the entire Ember series.


Lina and Doon have lived all their lives in the city of Ember, just like their parents and their grandparents before them.  Now that they’re twelve years old, it’s time for them to leave school and start working.  But when they go to select their assignments, they’re both disappointed.  Lina picks the job of Pipeworks Laborer, which means working deep underground.  Doon picks the job of Messenger, which involves running all over the city.  Because each of them hates the jobs they picked, they decide to switch jobs instead.  Lina is happy because she always wanted to be a messenger.  Doon is happy, too, but for a different reason.  He doesn’t really want to work with pipes every day, but it’s in the Pipeworks that the city generator is located.  Doon has never seen the generator before, but he thinks that if he can see it, maybe he can fix it.

You see, the city has been running well for many years, but recently the power has been failing more and more, for longer periods of time.  And when the power goes out, the lights go out.  And when the lights go out, the entire city is plunged into total darkness.   Because in the city of Ember, it’s always night, and there are no moon or stars.  On top of this, Ember has other problems, too.  The storehouses that used to be filled with all kinds of food and countless light bulbs are almost empty.  Stores that used to be open every day are now open only one or two days a week, with hardly anything left on the shelves.

Lina and Doon are each going to discover clues about the history of Ember.  But it’s only if they put those clues together and use everything they’ve ever learned that they’ll have any chance of saving their city before it’s plunged into darkness forever.

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