I’ve read some young adult novels were written several years ago. One of them was City of Ember, written in 2003. Previously, I’d only seen the movie, and before I read the book, I thought it was a good movie. Reading the book has made me realize how lacking the movie is. This book is for a younger age group than Hunger Games, Divergent or any of those. It’s kind of like a starter dystopian book for preteens.
Ember is an underground city that was designed to keep the remnants of humanity safe and isolated after the regular world was destroyed. It was only intended for the occupants to live in it for 200 years and then be released. Only the instructions aren’t passed down the way they are supposed to be, and the release doesn’t happen.
Lina and Doon discover damaged instructions written by the builders of Ember and begin a scavenger hunt of clues to break the code. Like many other dystopian books, children are assigned jobs at a certain age, in this case by drawing a slip of paper with a job written on it. Some jobs are good, others not so much. Lina and Doon both draw jobs they don’t want, but a simple trade of jobs benefits them both and put them in better positions to find out the key to reaching the surface.
It is always night in the city of Ember. But there is no moon, no stars. The only light during the regular twelve hours of "day" comes from floodlamps that cast a yellowish glow over the streets of the city. Beyond are the pitch-black Unknown Regions, which no one has ever explored because an understanding of fire and electricity has been lost, and with it the idea of a Moveable Light. "Besides," they tell each other, "there is nowhere but here" Among the many other things the people of Ember have forgotten is their past and a direction for their future. For 250 years they have lived pleasantly, because there has been plenty of everything in the vast storerooms. But now there are more and more empty shelves--and more and more times when the lights flicker and go out, leaving them in terrifying blackness for long minutes. What will happen when the generator finally fails?
Twelve-year-old Doon Harrow and Lina Mayfleet seem to be the only people who are worried. They have just been assigned their life jobs--Lina as a messenger, which leads her to knowledge of some unsettling secrets, and Doon as a Pipeworker, repairing the plumbing in the tunnels under the city where a river roars through the darkness. But when Lina finds a very old paper with enigmatic "Instructions for Egress," they use the advantages of their jobs to begin to puzzle out the frightening and dangerous way to the city of light of which Lina has dreamed. As they set out on their mission, the haunting setting and breathless action of this stunning first novel will have teens clamoring for a sequel. (There are now three more books in the series)
My random and rambling thoughts:
There are differences between the book and the movie. In fact, the only similarities are the assignment of jobs, the poor condition of Ember and the fact that they get out.
In the movie, the order of events are changed. People’s roles and stories are changed and the way Lina and Doon escape.
In the book, there is a lot of plot that has to do with the mayor taking the resources, Lina and Doon reporting him to the guards and then being wanted for spreading vicious rumors. None of this happens in the movie.
In the movie, the instructions act more like a map while in the book a lot more time is spend following clues and trying to decipher the clues. The movie adds a glass plate used as a key to help get out is added.
The role of the fathers are totally different in the book and movie. In the book, neither Doon nor Lina’s fathers are involved in the escape from Ember, but in the movie, Lina’s father thought the way out was the river and drown trying to get out. Doon finds out his father was working with Lina’s, and Doon tells his father about the instructions.
The weirdest difference is the inclusion of a giant mole in the movie. It roams the pipes, and is responsible for the mayor’s demise.
As far as the escape from Ember, there are too many differences to even go into.
Overall I think the movie is a very shallow portrayal of the book. It’s worth the time to read it to get more of the story, deeper insights into Ember, its citizens, the mayor and the main characters Lina and Doon. The way they figure out the exit and leave the city are much more fulfilling.
This book is appropriate for preteens. Teens may be somewhat bored, but they may also find it an easy, quick read.
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