The City of Ember Series: A Penny Dreadful Review
The world ended in bombs and disease. Survivors struggled to rebuild society from scratch in a deadly game of trial and error. Meanwhile, a secret city thrives underground, a failsafe or a backup plan, if you will, built by scientists and engineers who feared looming disaster. Hundreds of years ago, the city was stocked with everything the population could need and sealed away from the world. This is the city of Ember.
But Ember’s supplies can’t last forever. As their generator falters and the food vanishes, something must be done. Two brave children, Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow, embark on a quest to save their city.
And that’s only the first book.
The author, Jeanne DuPrau, is a master of human nature. She explores all the things fear can do, how wars start, and all the permutations of human kindness. The child heroes of this city do more than save their families: they save themselves and they save the future. I love the humanity of her characters – they dream and grow, make mistakes, learn, and seem even more human than most humans I know.
There’s a graphic novel series of these books, opening up access to those who can’t yet read chapterbooks. The art is expressive and lovely, and the story is at bottom the same, but certain things get left out. And yes, someone’s made a movie. I have yet to see it, however, and I cannot tell you if it is a good adaptation.
The unmistakable Steampunk optimism runs throughout the City of Ember series. There’s the sense that yes, the world is broken, but if we put our minds to it, we can fix everything. Ingenuity answers our questions and solves our problems.
Jeanne DuPrau’s City of Ember series might just restore your faith in humanity. It’s a wonderful series, appropriate for even those Steampunks that are just starting to read longer books. I give it a four and a half gears out of five. Pick this up for your young ones today. Tomorrow may be too late!
Your Correspondent From The Bookstore,
Penny J. Merriweather