The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau
The People of SparksLina and Doon had found the way out of Ember, the underground city that was dying. They threw a note down to the city for their fellow citizens to come up to the outside with them. About 400 people are able to escape before the electricity shuts off and Ember dies completely.
Now these people are on the ground of Earth. They have never seen sunshine, trees, grass, or any of the things that now surround them. They brought little with them. They don’t have the tools, food, or resources to survive. They walk until they find Sparks, a village that is finally recovering after the Disaster. They have a little over 300 people living there. How can they take in 400 refugees? Yet how can they turn them away?
The two groups form an alliance. The people in Sparks will teach the people from Ember how to survive and prosper in this new world. In six months the refugees will then have to move and start their own village. There are problems from the beginning. Some of the residents don’t want these new people to take away the results of years of hard work. They are only now to the place where they feel they are getting ahead. Some of the refugees feel they are being put upon and shunned.
Lina and Doon are both busy learning their new places in this world. Doon is on a work team doing jobs around Sparks and has taken up with the charismatic Tick. Lina, her sister, and her guardian live with the doctor and her nephew. Young Torren is one of the most resistent to the newcomers’ presence. All three become embroiled as the anger grows between the two groups of people. Can a new war be averted? Or can they learn from the mistakes of the past?
This children’s novel continues the story of the people escaping from The City of Ember. Jeanne DuPrau examines all the challenges that await as they learn about a completely new world. The People of Sparks also shows how easy it is to start a war and how difficult it is to stop one. Despite the hardships, people are still people with their egos and prejudices. But they also still have their love and caring as well as a sense of right. DuPrau gives a good moral without moralizing. Instead, she shows what is important and how it can be achieved. If there is a war between the people from Sparks and the people from Ember, everyone loses.
The People of Sparks is an engaging tale. DuPrau gives enough description of the devestated Earth without being graphic or depressing. It is easy to understand the bleakness of the world outside of Sparks. Thus, the success of the village is apparent as well, even to the youngest reader. This novel stands well on its own as well as a companion to The City of Ember.