REVIEW: The City of Ember

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About the Book

City of Ember 2Title: The City of Ember

Author: Jeanne DuPrau

Series: Books of Ember #1

Genre: YA/MG Sci-fi Dystopian

Pages: 270

Edition Read: Paperback

Dates Read: October 5-7, 2014 (original), January 1-5, 2023 (re-read)

Blurb: Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness…

But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?


This was a re-read for me since I wanted to finish the rest of the Books of Ember series and I’m so glad that I got to read this one again. I forgot just how good it was!

First off, the story world and world building is incredible. An underground city where there is no natural light, where the people don’t even have means of bringing light with them – it sounds terrifying but, for the people of Ember, it’s all they’ve ever known. They know that their city was created by “the Builders” but a lot of their history has been lost. They have made it work for generations, blessed with a bountiful storage of supplies, but what happens when those supplies start running out? What happens when the huge generator which provides electricity and light to the city starts to fail? What do you do when your city is surrounded by complete and utter darkness and there is seemingly no way to leave?

Our main characters are Lina and Doon, two kids who are determined to figure out how to escape Ember and save their people. They have to deal with corrupt leaders who don’t want to lose their power over the citizenry and a mysterious message with lots of missing words and letters that might hold the answers they’re looking for. Both of them are delightful to read about. They are so curious and want to learn everything they can about how Ember got the way they are (and maybe, just maybe, want all the credit for their discoveries), but they also want to take care of their families and friends and save them if they can.

This book actually ends on a pretty good cliffhanger, so I’m really surprised that I didn’t pick up the next one sooner. This book falls under the children or middle grade category, but it is entertaining and engaging enough that even old adults like me can thoroughly enjoy it. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

GoodReads rating: 4 stars

Categories: Books I've Read

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