The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
The City of EmberLina and Doon live in Ember. Ember is the only city or place anyone knows. No one knows what is beyond the city out in the darkness. The power and light of the city comes from electricity generated by the river under Ember. Each night the power is turned off at 9:00. It doesn’t come back on until the next morning. The darkness is complete during the nighttime.
Lina and Doon have finished their schooling and are starting their first jobs. Lina lives with her grandmother and baby sister. She is excited to get the job as a messenger, running messages around Ember. Doon gets a job down in the pipe works – one close to the generator. He is glad because he sees Ember is breaking down and is in trouble. He is certain he can save Ember. Then he’ll make his father especially proud of him, more than normal.
Through a strange circumstance, Lina’s grandmother found an unusual box buried back in the closet. Poppy, Lina’s two-year-old sister, has opened it and starting chewing the paper inside. When Lina rescued it from Poppy, she tried to determine what it said. It is obviously very old, perhaps dating back over 200 years to the beginning of Ember. It’s a puzzle and her curiosity makes her try to work it out.
Doon is the friend that Lina knows can help her decipher the message. Between them they work out and guess more of the words. Their discoveries lead them to a possibility of saving Ember, Doon’s dream. Now, they must convince some of the adults that they know what they are doing.
This is a young adult science fiction novel that appeals. Jeanne DuPrau has created a complete, believable environment in Ember. It is consistent with itself. Ember has always been there in Lina’s and Doon’s lives, so is treated that way. The city is as much of a character in the book as either of the children. The mangled message is alluring as they try to discover what the message from the Builders is. This is a good, imaginative book.