The People of Sparks Book Poster Image

The People of Sparks

A simple, clear look at the slippery slope to war.
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What parents need to know

Positive messages

There is a strongly felt anti war message throughout this thoughtful examination of the path to war.

Positive role models

The heroes behave nobly: others behave very badly, deliberately inciting violence with lies.


A small riot, a mob confrontation, some fighting, firing of an ancient weapon that injures the user and ignites a fire.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this story lays out, in microcosm and in simple, easily understood steps, the path to war. Though the solution is a bit too convenient, this should provoke serious thought and lively debate.

What's the story?

Having emerged from hundreds of years in an underground city, the 400 survivors of Ember can't go back, but have no idea how to survive on the surface. Wandering for days, exhausted and hungry, they come across the village of Sparks. The people of this small village reluctantly agree to take in the refugees temporarily, just long enough to teach them to survive on their own.

But food is tight, the Emberites don't seem to know anything, and the villagers soon begin to resent having to take care of them. As tensions mount a mysterious series of acts of vandalism heightens the anger on both sides, until conflict seems inevitable.

Is it any good?


The first book was a fun but unexceptional story -- underground city is failing, children have to find a way out before it's too late; this sequel goes in a more thought-provoking direction. It traces, in a clear and reasonably believable fashion, the steps that lead otherwise decent people to war and, more simplistically, what decent people can do to stop it. It helps kids to begin to fathom some of what is going on in the world today.

Again it is the unassuming Lina and Doon who find the way, though both are initially led astray. But they share a common impulse to care for others, which propels them to find and take the difficult steps necessary to avert conflict. Unlike so many fantasies, this is not about good versus evil, but rather thoughtfulness and compassion versus unreasoning hate. And, as the author makes very clear, love takes a lot more strength and bravery than anger.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about war.

  • How has war affected Sparks and Ember?

  • How are greed and corruption leading to new conflict?

Book details

Author:Jeanne DuPrau
Genre:Science Fiction
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Random House
Publication date:July 18, 2004
Number of pages:338

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Adult Written byaznwitchgal April 9, 2008
Kid, 12 years old January 31, 2009

The awesome

Teen, 15 years old Written bythomas25525 April 9, 2008