Plot: The city of Ember was built to preserve the human race. Instructions were left to allow the citizens to leave after 200 years and the danger had passed. Only the instructions were lost and now the city is falling apart. Doon is desperate to do something to save his home. When Lina discovers the fragmented instructions in her closet they set off on an adventure to find the way out of Ember.
I have a hard time calling this a distopia because in many ways it is about hope. We are faced with greed, selfishness and fear but it is the exception, not the rule. The novel seems less concerned about the baser elements of human nature than about Lina’s curiosity and Doon’s drive to save the world as he knows it. At times it feels like a mystery; the reader is encouraged to piece together the clues left by the Builders along with Doon and Lina which can become quite engrossing. But I think what I impressed me most about the novel was the world building. The atmosphere is wonderful and the city is a very believable mix of modern technology and forgotten knowledge.
I liked Doon and Lina, I liked their passion and their courage. But they didn’t act or feel like 12-year-olds. I suppose being given responsibility that early in life might do that to you but I found it a bit jarring. Still it wasn’t nearly as annoying to this librarian as the “classification system” in their public library. Books organized alphabetically by randomly chosen subjects? Terrifying.
There are 3 more books in the series though this one works very well on its own. There was also a movie in 2008. The plot was changed a lot but I liked the look of the film and the kids they chose for Doon and Lina really fit the images in my head. However, the giant mole was unnecessary imo.
Challenges: Into the Old World Challenge (8), Futuristic/Sci-Fi Challenge (1)