Monday, 3 November 2008

Ember Series reviews/recaps

So, now that I have waded my way through Jeanne DuPrau's Ember series after discovering about it some time ago, I shall attempt to review the four parts of it. This is a fair warning:


Let's start with the first (and perhaps best) book of the series. In the city known as Ember (a city built to last only 200 years, where in fact it is the year 215/214 in Ember), two children, Lina Mayfleet & Doon Harrow become closely associated after they discover that there could be a way out of their dying city. Lina's younger sister finds a document left behind by the people who built the city known as The Builders.

The Builders comprimise a kind of religion within Ember, which I feel was not expanded on enough. Mrs. Murdo, who later takes care of Lina and her sister is rather avid that The Builders will come back to save them from the impending danger of the lights in the city going out due to lack of electricity. There is also a day called The Singing which takes place in Ember every year where the Emberites unite and sing about the good things etc.

In school the students are taught that Ember is the only light within a dark world, and as far as they know Ember is the whole world. Areas outside of Ember are poorly (if at all) lit. They are known as The Unknown Regions, and people who venture out there hardly ever return.

Doon and Lina eventually work out the secrets of the message, and find a series of boats and candles (the moveable lights that Doon was always thinking of) which they use to take them out of Ember along a dangerous river beneath the Pipeworks.

They take the journey and then find a steep ledge, where light shines through from the top. After a long travel up there, they discover that Ember is actually an underground city. They come out in to a post-disaster world, where nothing seems alive.

A wolf wanders along with a plum in it's mouth, so Lina & Doon are aware that it's safe to eat it. They realise that the rest of Ember has no idea where they have gone, and that they also have no food in this strange and confusing new world, with things such as the sun that the Emberites have never seen before.

So, they drop down a note to the rest of the city, hoping someone finds it and the rest of Ember follow them.

In regards to Lina & Doon, given that they are only twelve, and this is a children's book, the feelings they have for one another don't ascend much beyond friendship in this book. I was a little disappointed with that, but it does get hinted at in later books.

In the end, my rating for The City Of Ember is:

Four Poké Balls out of five. Have not yet decided on how my rating system goes, but this seems rather fitting for now.

Now on to the second of the four books. In The People Of Sparks, the other 400+ citizens of Ember (besides the mayor and his cronies, who were hoarding the last of the food supplies) march along to one of the post-Disaster settlements known as Sparks. Sparks has it's own background, with the people of The Last Truck setting up Sparks.

It turns out that Sparks had no idea about Ember, and begrudgingly take in the citizens. Eventually, mean messages are left, and there's a rift between the Emberites (a word used to describe the people from Ember) and the Sparksonians (a word not used in the series, just made it up) and there is distrust between the two sides. The Emberites are still getting used to things in the new world, such as bread, rain and fire for comfort and warmth.

These new feelings of completley unknown things, like when Torren explains war to Lina, are unfortunately very short but in some cases they are compelling.

Lina goes off with a roamer, Caspar, to seek out the new city that she hears him speak of. This could not have been more of a waste of Lina's character. Lina & Doon are excellent when together. The only time that separation was okay for a time was in Diamond Of Darkhold, and then it went on for too long.

Neither character is good enough to support a chapter by themselves, but together they form a great "couple-character". Doon in the meantime, is off with all his male friends (which from the way described in the book starts to make him sound homosexual) and of course it is one of the Emberites who launched the attacks on the Emberites.

Near the end of the book, a fire breaks out, and Lina dashes to help and is soon joined by the rest of Ember. All seems fine, and the Sparksonians decide that the Emberites can stay as long as they want. Nice happy ending. :-)
A nice 3 out of 5 for People Of Sparks. Nice story, but not as good as The City Of Ember.

*sigh* Now to begin the trainwreck that is the "prequel" to The City Of Ember. Oh, Jeanne, where did you go wrong? The Prophet Of Yonwood features a strange city where the people follow words spoken by a Prophet named Althea, which are interpreted by a woman who takes care of her. During the book, war is alluded to making it seem like the war will be the first one mentioned in People Of Sparks, but it turns out to be "cancelled" by the town's resident nutjob, Hoyt McCoy.

This book claims to be a prequel, but the prequel part only happens afterwards. I'm not even going to bother with more than that. Avoid this book, reading it offers you no extra things for Ember. A measly one out of five.

Avoid this book if at all possible.

Now, for a brief recovery.
The Diamond Of Darkhold is a nice recovery from the abysmal third book. Lina & Doon discover an ancient book, which they were supposed to find upon leaving Ember, which details a special thing for Ember. Believing it's been left in Ember, they decide to go back to the city after seeing a light down there.

One big problem with this is the image printed on the first page of the book. A map of Ember, which shows a fire in the middle, with the name Darkhold embossed over Ember. Very spoilery for anyone with the slightest amount of brain cells.

People are living in Ember, despite there being no lights, and have renamed the city Darkhold. They have a diamond, whose use is not known. Doon steals it, as it's meant for the Emberites, and then leaves the city again.

This is a nice story again. Lina & Doon grow up and are seen to start falling in love with one another, which was obviously going to happen.

There's only one thing stopping this from being a four out of five.


Thanks for reading Emberites and Twitterites. Let me know if you liked my ratings system, or leave comments and the like, or tweet at me on Twitter.

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