“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)

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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.”

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“Bright Young Things” by Anna Godbersen


This is a DNF (Did Not Finish) review.  As such, it will not be graded traditionally and not have a star rating.  I’m just going to share my thoughts on the first couple hours of the book and let you know why I decided to put it down.


Bright Young Things

by Anna Godbersen

Narrated by Emily Bauer

⊗ DNF ⊗

Series: Bright Young Things (1)
Genres: Historical, Young Adult, RomanceFiction, Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit, Teen, Historical Romance, New York, Young Adult Historical Fiction
Published By: HarperAudio in 2010
Original Publication: Harper in 2010 (Original US Hardcover Edition)
Format: Audiobook (9 hours, 58 minutes)

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The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: Flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York’s glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star….

Cordelia is searching for the father she’s never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined — and more dangerous. It’s a life anyone would kill for…and someone will.

The only person Cordelia can trust is ­Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia’s brother, Charlie. But Astrid’s perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the ­illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls’ fortunes will rise and fall — together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of THE LUXE comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.


I detest quitting a book, but I’ve just got to face the facts… there are too many books in this world to spend time suffering through one I dislike.  So, in list format, here’s why I decided not to continue this book:

  • The introductory scene just seemed cruel to me.  Of all the starting places to pick, getting married then immediately running away for no reason related to getting married just seems silly.
  • I suppose the description of the book should have warned me, but what I read of this was one giant cliche.
  • All the characters are way too nice to each other.  There’s a little discussion about how one of the girls has a mean, discontented family, but it’s mostly to illustrate a bit where she’s remembering something and her feelings were hurt.
  • I just couldn’t stand the narrator’s voice, or her depiction of all the characters.  There wasn’t a lot of variety in her tones, and everything sounded way too pink and poofy for my tastes.
  • Set in the 1920s, the only hint of time period I had was a mention of prohibition.
  • All in all, I think it’s written too young for my current tastes.

I think that someone looking for an adorable romance and really simple writing may be able to continue, but if you’re looking for Zelda Fitzgerald-esque glamour and pizzazz, you won’t find it here.


I borrowed this through Overdrive!  For those unfamiliar, this is my new favorite thing.  If your local library participates, you can search the local online catalog and borrow eBooks and audiobooks digitally.  For someone who commutes as much as I do and has as big a TBR as me, this is an awesome service.

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