A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Ember is a city in eternal darkness, only kept light by its increasingly unreliable electric system. Other systems are falling apart as well, and stockpiles of food and essentials that have lasted hundreds of years are running out. The city was only meant to last 220 years, and now it has been 241. But the instructions the Builders left have been lost and forgotten.
Lina finds them, but not before her baby sister has chewed them into virtual indecipherability. Now she and her friend Doon must figure them out from the few disjointed letters left, before the city falls apart. Their efforts lead them to discover long forgotten secrets about the nature and purpose of Ember, and what the Builders intended. They want to share their discoveries with the rest of the citizens -- but only if the corrupt mayor and his guards don't stop them first.
Is it any good?
Part dystopian fantasy, part mystery, part code-breaking treasure hunt, this is an intriguing story. Deciphering the clues from the damaged Instructions will keep readers guessing, despite some predictable plot twists in the center section, and they will be rooting for the appealing main characters.
While lacking the complexity or moral ambiguity of The Giver, THE CITY OF EMBER has its own unique features: It's a city designed not to be a utopia, but rather to hold the remnants of humanity safe and isolated for a fixed period, then release them. The problem comes when the release doesn't happen, no one knows that it should have, and the city is past its expiration date. A fascinating scenario -- and one fraught with possibilities for the sequel.
Talk to your kids about ...
- Author: Jeanne DuPrau
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Random House
- Publication date: March 31, 2004
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 10 - 13
- Number of pages: 270
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love intrigue
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.