“The City of Ember” by Jeanne DuPrau


I meant to pick up this book so long ago, and lo-and-behold, fourteen years have passed and even though I’m no longer a young reader, I still think THE CITY OF EMBER is an excellent story, well worth picking up.

thecityofemberThe City of Ember

by Jeanne DuPrau

Narrated by Wendy Dillon

❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎ ❤︎

Series: The City of Ember (1)
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, DystopiaFantasy, Fiction
Published By: Listening Library in 2004
Original Publication: Penguin Random House in 2003 (Original US Hardcover Edition)
Format: Audiobook (7 hours, 6 minutes)

goodreads librarything publisher author


Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness….

But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?


After being burned so many times post-Twilight and The Hunger Games, I’m a bit wary of YA books that smell like they may end up filled with love triangle angst.  There is a time and place, and you never know.  Plus, The City of Ember is marketed for the 8-12 crowd, and I am way, way past that.  I’m pleased to report that none of my concerns were an issue with The City of Ember, and I give it ALL FIVE hearts.



I’m not crazy about Doon, but I’m also not crazy about creepy crawlies or hot tempers.  He and Lina are complete opposites – one dark and frustrated, the other sweet and innocent.  They are an awesome complement to each other, and they have a really awkward relationship… as twelve-year-olds do.  I also felt like they were both realistic in their settings – Lina is protective of her little sister, happy to be alive, curious and brave.  Doon is a little moodier, but he’s also very interested in the world.  They both have an essential childlike belief that the world could be better.  That people are inherently good.  It’s sweet.

As for the minor characters, they’re also lovely.  They are a bit kinder than I have come to expect from adults in YA fiction, but more’s the better for a middle grade audience.  I particularly liked Clary.  And Poppy, but that may be because the voice Wendy Dillon used for her was adorable.



The world is the thing I really want to talk about, but I can’t talk about the parts I want without being a little spoilery!  …  I will suffice it to say that I really liked the world, and I liked how the darkness was basically this big, black, menacing character of itself, and that I think it’s crazy they were eating 220-year-old canned peaches.



If I’m being really honest, this type of story isn’t particularly new.  I see a bunch of references to The Giver on Goodreads, and I’m also thinking of the Crossed by Ally Condie.  It’s also important to remember, however, that The City of Ember predates Condie’s writing, even predated The Hunger Games.  So this book was dystopia before dystopia was mainstream.  And it holds up 14 years after publication.  YES.

Writing / Narration


Anyone wanting to jump in here expecting intricate writing and complex subplots may want to take a step back – DuPrau’s writing is very simple.  This is intended to be an easy, engrossing read for ages 8-12, and it succeeds very well in that regard.  If you’re expecting Lord of the Rings detail, this is not it.  And I’m fine with that!  I am not the intended audience.  And, for that matter, I liked it fine.

As for Wendy Dillon’s narration, it was mostly good.  I wasn’t crazy about the voice she used with Doon, but it wasn’t grating.  The Mayor and the Guard at the Desk (especially the Guard) were intolerable.  Fortunately, they had very few lines, and I endured.

Personal Thoughts


Overall, I really liked it.  This was a fun, light read in a genre I enjoy without boatloads of romantic tension, a few little laughs, and really endearing characters.  I would definitely pick up a copy of this for my home library.


Good characters, a solid middle grade dystopia.  Would recommend for young readers, but still enjoyable for adults.


I borrowed this book from the New Hampshire Library Exchange on Overdrive.  Overdrive is wonderful.  Someday I’ll write a whole post about how wonderful it is.  That said – all opinions here are my own, I get no love and no commission for promoting this book.


“When the city of Ember was just built and not yet inhabited, the chief builder and the assistant builder, both of them weary, sat down to speak of the future.”


“People find a way through just about anything.”

“Wouldn’t it be strange, she thought, to have a blue sky? But she liked the way it looked. It would be beautiful – a blue sky.”

“Lina looked out at the lighted streets spreading away in every direction, the streets she knew so well. She loved her city, worn out and crumbling though it was.”

amazon barnesandnoble indiebound audible

So Many Classics! #MailboxMonday


Mailbox Mondays are hosted by the ladies over on the Mailbox Monday blog.  What finds have you added to your collection this week?


I am so excited because it’s been an ETERNITY since I bought books for myself.

Like, real books.  Audible gives me two audiobooks a month, but those cannot grace my glorious bookshelves!



But seriously, the reason I never buy books anymore is, frankly, I AM OUT OF ROOM.  It’s tragic.  I have 2.5 bookcases now in our small apartment, and the third is empty in the office that was supposed to be a nursery and someday, hopefully, will be.  At any rate SOMEDAY that will get filled with children’s books, so… yup.  I’m out of space.

This is why all thirteen books of A Series of Unfortunate Events is blocking my “authors whose last name begins with T” section.



Actually, truthfully, these were mostly replacements of ratty old copies that I wanted to update… such as…

Really, I’ve been trying to get my hands on a clean copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in particular, for ages.  Barnes & Noble was running a special on their paperback classics, so I loaded up on crisp, new copies of The Scarlet LetterThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and A Christmas Carol as well.

Why I had really gone to B&N’s website, though, was seeking the rest of the Oz series.  A couple weeks ago, I picked up Oz:  The Complete Collection, Volume One to replace ratty copies of books two and three, and now I needed them all.  I don’t usually go for collections, but these were just too pretty to resist.

Seriously, aren’t they just beautiful!!!

On top of all those, I occasionally stab at my “To Buy” list.  These are typically audiobooks I’ve listened to and adored, and want to add to my home library.  There aren’t too many, and I always try to get them on ThriftBooks, so it’s fairly hit-or-miss what I’ll find.  When it comes to used books, I look for them in hardcover if possible, since those hold up better, and regardless I try to find things in “Very Good” or “Like New” condition.  This plays out pretty well for me, although sometimes the book covers are a little smudgy or there’s drawings in them.

My copy of The Midnight Thief has a phallus drawn in it… in red pen. Ex-library copy, so I suppose it’s not surprising… gotta replace that one someday….

Anyways, my “To Buy” list grabs!

My husband and I both loved Menagerie and I’m pumped to add this one to the library.  Additionally, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald was the 1920s historical fiction piece I was looking for all my life.  So those are great to have.

I’m still expecting one more book from ThriftBooks, as well as my FairyLoot crate that was shipped last week.  I’ve snagged August’s OwlCrate as well (with a theme like “something wicked this way comes” how could I NOT) so there are a few more lovely reads in my future!

This will most likely be my last haul for a while, unless I decide to purge my “To Buy” list… there’s just too many books!

Who am I kidding… there is no such thing.