Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
In her electric debut, DuPrau imagines a post-apocalyptic underground world where resources are running out. The city of Ember, "the only light in the dark world," began as a survival experiment created by the "Builders" who wanted their children to "grow up with no knowledge of a world outside, so that they feel no sorrow for what they have lost." An opening prologue describes the Builders' intentions-that Ember's citizens leave the city after 220 years. They tuck "The Instructions" to a way out within a locked box programmed to open at the right time. But the box has gone astray. The story opens on Assignment Day in the year 241, when 12-year-olds Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow draw lots for their jobs from the mayor's bag. Lina gets "pipeworks laborer," a job that Doon wants, while Doon draws "messenger," the job that Lina covets, and they trade. Through their perspectives, DuPrau reveals the fascinating details of this subterranean community: as Doon repairs leaks deep down among the Pipeworks, he also learns just how dire the situation is with their malfunctioning generator. Meanwhile, the messages Lina carries point to other sorts of subterfuge. Together, the pair become detectives in search of the truth-part of which may be buried in some strange words that were hidden in Lina's grandmother's closet. Thanks to full-blooded characters every bit as compelling as the plot, Lina and Doon's search parallels the universal adolescent quest for answers. Readers will sit on the edge of their seats as each new truth comes to light. Ages 10-13. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-7-This truly superb audio recording of the novel by Jeane DuPrau (Random, 2003) takes place in the dark city of Ember, a decaying place with no natural light surrounded by the vast Unknown. Although ancestors had arranged for information on leaving Ember to be made available after the inhabitants have spent 200 years there, a corrupt mayor lost the information many years before the novel begins. Two hundred and forty-one years later, Ember's electrical lighting frequently fails, supplies are dwindling, and the populace is growing increasingly frightened. Twelve-year-old Doon and his acquaintance Lina are intent on finding a way to save Ember. After Lina finds a mysterious and fragmented paper titled "Instructions for Egress," they think they have a way out. Can they escape from the villainous mayor and his soldiers? Can they figure out the missing letters and words in the message? Do they find their way out of Ember and up to a post-apocalyptic Earth? Wendy Dillon, one of the most talented readers of audiobooks, does an amazing job of creating different voices for each character, has absolutely perfect diction, and skillfully conveys the building suspense. Exceptional care has been taken to faithfully convey the author's excellent tale through a combination of a superior narrator and evocative sound effects. This engaging novel is an exceptional audiobook.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 5^-7. Ember, a 241-year-old, ruined domed city surrounded by a dark unknown, was built to ensure that humans would continue to exist on Earth, and the instructions for getting out have been lost and forgotten. On Assignment Day, 12-year-olds leave school and receive their lifetime job assignments. Lina Mayfleet becomes a messenger, and her friend Doon Harrow ends up in the Pipeworks beneath the city, where the failing electric generator has been ineffectually patched together. Both Lina and Doon are convinced that their survival means finding a way out of the city, and after Lina discovers pieces of the instructions, she and Doon work together to interpret the fragmented document. Life in this postholocaust city is well limned--the frequent blackouts, the food shortage, the public panic, the search for answers, and the actions of the powerful, who are taking selfish advantage of the situation. Readers will relate to Lina and Doon's resourcefulness and courage in the face of ominous odds. --Sally Estes
Horn Book Review
(Intermediate, Middle School) Unlike the rundown dystopia of Lois Lowry's Gathering Blue, the darkness of Ember is essentially literal. Its people, by and large, are honorable and civilized; its governance is democratic if quasi-theocratic; its economy frugal but fair. But there is no natural light in Ember, and the blackouts of its antiquated electrical grid are coming more and more frequently: ""running out of light bulbs, running out of power, running out of time--disaster was right around the corner."" So thinks Doon, a curious twelve-year-old who, along with his spirited schoolmate Lina, determines to save the city. On a deliberately limited canvas, first-novelist DuPrau draws a picture of a closed society, all of its resources taken from vast but emptying storerooms, with no travel possible beyond the lights of the city. The writing and storytelling are agreeably spare and remarkably suspenseful, and rather than bogging down in explanations of how Ember came to be and how it functions, DuPrau allows the events of the story to convey the necessary information. There's a contrivance or two in keeping the narrative moving, but even the device of a hidden letter, complete with missing words, is used with such disarming forthrightness that readers will be eagerly deciphering it right alongside Doon and Lina. The two protagonists are good sorts, distinctively if not deeply etched, and fans (note: there will be many) will be pleased to know that while Doon and Lina's mission is triumphantly concluded, there's plenty of room for a sequel. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Book Review
This promising debut is set in a dying underground city. Ember, which was founded and stocked with supplies centuries ago by "The Builders," is now desperately short of food, clothes, and electricity to keep the town illuminated. Lina and Doon find long-hidden, undecipherable instructions that send them on a perilous mission to find what they believe must exist: an exit door from their disintegrating town. In the process, they uncover secret governmental corruption and a route to the world above. Well-paced, this contains a satisfying mystery, a breathtaking escape over rooftops in darkness, a harrowing journey into the unknown and cryptic messages for readers to decipher. The setting is well-realized with the constraints of life in the city intriguingly detailed. The likable protagonists are not only courageous but also believably flawed by human pride, their weaknesses often complementing each other in interesting ways. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers clamoring for the next installment. (Fiction. 9-13) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.