the city of Ember, the sky was always dark."
Lina Mayfleet lives in
the mysterious city of Ember. It sits in a pitch dark
realm, devoid of natural
light. Great spotlights illuminate the streets and
buildings and its scurrying
inhabitants, who hasten about their business
in fear of the future,
because food is getting scarce, supplies are dwindling,
and worse - much worse
- the underground generator which creates Ember's
light is beginning to
fail. The intermittent power cuts plunge the streets into
thick, impenetrable darkness
in which every fear is multiplied one hundred
fold. But Lina has dreams
of another city, one of light and abundance, out
there in the Unknown Regions.
If only she could find the way to it...
In Ember, all children
finish school and begin work at twelve years old,
their jobs being chosen
for them on a special Assignment Day. Lina
trades her chosen posting
with a friend called Doon, and thus, as a
Messenger, she is able to start exploring in
earnest. Likewise, young Doon
puts his talents to use underground
as a Pipeworker. He seeks
change by mechanical means, and although
it was mere chance that saw
him trading jobs with Lina, their paths keep
crossing. By sharing their
discoveries, a puzzle comes together,
instructions are deciphered and
out of the darkness, a future
City of Ember" has been followed by "The People of Sparks"
Prophet of Yonwood" (2006). A fourth tale is forthcoming...
The book is about to become a film, thanks to Walden Media and
film will be directed by Gil
Kenan ("Monster House")
a release date of October 10th 2008 has already been penciled
to the schedules...
This book opens with a fabulous premise,
and bags of promise. The
questions tumble out. Where
is Ember? Why does it exist? Why is
the infrastructure crumbling,
and what lies there, in the Unknown Regions
beyond the flickering spotlights?
With its intermittent illumination
and scurrying inhabitants, one is reminded
of some peculiar Impressionistic
landscape. Fritz Lang meets the
if you will. And running from spotlight to spotlight is
our heroine. In Ember, lots
of common knowledge, words and meanings
appear to have been lost somewhere
along the line. But when Lina unearths
a page of peculiar Instructions,
word by word, line by line, everything
starts to come together.
It must be said, nothing much
happens to our heroes to bar their progress.
Antagonists are dealt with quite
swiftly. But the characters are well
drawn, society's shortcomings
are very well sketched and Ember's fears
tangible with each flickering light.
At any moment the lights might go out
and never come back on...
So what he have here is a real
page-turning mystery. It doesn't take much
effort to figure it out, but
in a way, that helps the reader, willing Lina and
Doon on to decipher those instructions
and reach that final reveal. Indeed,
the book reminds one of a M
Night Shyamalan film, in that the Big Reveal
may not be terribly surprising,
but the way in which we get to it is so
enlightening. Little wonder a film
is coming. Ember will look great on
the big screen.
Ah, but here's the rub. For
a book that works so hard to keep its secrets,
both the author and her publishers
have spoilt some of the mystery.
For there are already two further
books based in Ember's world (a sequel
and a prequel), with a fourth
tale coming soon. Anyone scouring the
bookshelves could easily stumble
upon these follow-on stories which
expose Ember's Big Secret within
their blurbs and synopses!
But let's not damn them quite
yet, because Random House and
designer Chris Reily furnished the
original hardback edition of "The City
of Ember" with a wonderful, atmospheric
cover. That bronze lightbulb with
an Ember element is a glorious
motif. "Turn the page" it says. "Unlock
This Gnome's very glad that
UK collectors should remember to
track down the American first edition
of this book. Jeanne DuPrau
hails from California, and Random House
first published this title across
the pond, in May 2003. The British edition
didn't appear until the following
City of Ember The
City of Ember
UK hardback edition... Current
The author's web site...
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