The City of Ember – Jeane DuPrau
I’ve been in the mood for a good dystopian novel and the release of the movie reminded me that I’d been wanting to read this. I like how straight from the beginning, Ember is set up as a dying city that has outlived its usefulness but the people there don’t know it. It’s not a very big city, and the people there live with a strange mix of socialism and black markets with a little bit of capitalism thrown in. There’s no sun, no moon, and when the lights are turned off (or during the increasingly frequent blackouts) the world is plunged into absolute darkness. Lina and rediscovered-friend Doon are the only ones who seem serious about finding a way out. Lina thinks she has the answer, but it’s inadvertantly turned into a puzzle by her teething little sister. The mechanics of this puzzle are skillfully handled and answers reveal themselves at opportune moments believably, a “the knowledge will come when you need it” sort of thing.
I really enjoyed this and am already a hundred pages into pt. 2. The worldbuilding is good and becomes more interesting as its contrasted to…other spoilery things in that second book. Also, I really liked the end of this one, but can’t talk about the specifics of why without giving too much away or it seeming overly simplistic. Faith takes a bit of skewering, as does complacency and greed. There are a lot of good-hearted people in Ember, but also a lot of people falling prey to a mob mentality, I would guess that the extremes of human nature (for good and bad) will continue to be a focus of the series.