Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

I have a weakness for good children's and young adult novels. Every now and again I'll go through a phase of reading a whole bunch of them... like when I discovered Diana Wynne Jones a couple of years back. For some reason, Megan refused to take an interest in more than two of her books - "The Tale of Time City" and "Witch Week" are both falling apart from frequent rereading, but she turns up her nose at any others by the same author. Odd. At least it was fun to share those books with her.

I picked up "The City of Ember" at Village Books back in October because it was the selection for their mother-daughter book club and I thought it sounded interesting. I really wasn't sure if manga-obsessed Megan would deign to give this book her attention, but amazingly, she did, and she told me that I should really read it. I love it when she recommends books to me and I don't read them right away - she pesters me just as persistently as I do her when she won't read something that I think she'd like.

So anyway, "The City of Ember" was really, really good. Children's books don't have to be simple or pedantic - if they're good stories and well-told, they are on a par with adult books, and this one is definitely up there. It's the story of two children, Lina and Doon, who live in a city of perpetual darkness where everyone is dependent on the ancient generator beneath the streets to keep the lights on. Lina and Doon believe their city is in real trouble as the reserves of food and supplies which Ember's residents have taken for granted for decades are beginning to run out, and the generator is failing more and more often, leaving the residents of Ember in absolute darkness. This book is the story of their quest to find a solution to their city's problems. The ending makes me so eager to read the next book that I'm not all that sure I will be able to leave it hidden under the bed and wait for Megan to open it on December 25, read it, and let me have a turn. I'm really good at reading books without creasing the spine....

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