THE CITY OF EMBER, despite some noticeable missteps, is probably one of the most engrossing science fiction books out there. I like to think of the book's elemental value as a salad bowl: EMBER's storyline, the most noticeable part, is what I like to classify as lettuce. Its characters, characteristics, and characterization is what I like to classify as carrot slices. Its biggest flaws are what I like to classify as the tomato--unexpected, comes out of nowhere, and really shouldn't be there. And its small but sweet dashes of comedy are what I classify as bacon bits. Hopefully you comprehend all that and feel the same way.