I read The City of Ember1a while ago, some time last year I think, and at first I was really excited to read the second book, but after further thought I somehow came to the conclusion that it was too juvenile for me. I'm glad now that I didn't let this precept keep me from picking this book up when I saw it at my library. It was very good. And yeah, it was a little young, but that's because it's written for the 9-12 set. I liked it anyway.
The People of Sparks picks up where The City of Ember leaves off. Lina and Doon have emerged from the underground city to the exciting new world above, and it isn’t long before they are followed by the other inhabitants of Ember. The Emberites soon come across a town where they are welcomed, fed, and given places to sleep. But the town’s resources are limited and it isn’t long before resentment begins to grow between the two groups. When anonymous acts of vandalism push them toward violence, it’s up to Lina and Doon to discover who’s behind the vandalism and why, before it’s too late.
The mysterious event that led to the creation of Ember is revealed in this book. Also revealed is how easy it is for peaceful people to resort to all out war at the suggestion of one charismatic individual. Misunderstandings and resentment fuel the fire of animosity and the actions of just a few people fan it into a near-disastrous conflagration where the mettle of every individual, Emberite and Sparks alike, is tested.
Lina and Doon, who teamed up in book one to solve the riddle of Ember and rescue its citizens from the dying, underground city, find themselves heading down different paths. Doon is swept away by the charismatic Tick, and finds himself struggling with injustices and what it means to fight for your rights. Lina strikes out on her own to find the mythical city of her dreams in hopes of finding a place for the Emberites to live. Together they struggle to find a way to unite the Emberites and Sparks with a single, nonviolent act.
People of Sparks addresses how fragile peace is and how prone to fighting and discord people are by nature. We like to fight. We look for reasons to. Picking sides and joining together against others comes naturally to us. Duprau sheds light on our own inner demons and provides a voice for the ones who get caught in the middle of conflict, the innocent and the young. Even children want to fight though, but they often don't appreciate what it means. War is an abstract idea to them; it happens somewhere else with people who don't celebrate the same holidays or speak the same language or eat the same food. This book can help bring it into perspective for them.
The only thing I could have asked for from this book was a little more oomph behind the description of the events that led to the founding of Ember. I like details2. The book would have become bogged down by all the details though, I'll concede to that. Duprau kept it clean so as not to lose the attention of her reader, and she never did.
Ratings3! I give The People of Sparks...
...three and a half zombies.
I look forward to reading the third book in this series, The Prophet of Yonwood, a prequel taking place fifty years before the founding of Ember.
1 "The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever! This stunning debut novel offers refreshingly clear writing and fascinating, original characters."
2 I especially like details on plagues and diseases. Some of my favorite books are The Cobra Eventby Richard Preston and Flu by Gina Kolata, both have excellent detailed descriptions of diseases both real and imagined. Another really good book for its details is The Pacific by Mark helprin, his short stories are deliciously vivid.
3 I completely forgot the rating! I had to come back and do it! How could I forget the zombies?!?