Category Archives: Jeanne DuPrau

Persnickety Snark’s FIVE Challenge, Day 3: Great Series

Today, December 23, is the third day of Persnickety Snark’s FIVE Challenge, and today’s particular challenge is…Great Series!

Adele’s list may be YA only, but I’m including all age brackets. Oh, and these aren’t all published in 2010 – I just read them in 2010. Better late than never 😉

Anyhoo, here we are, counting down from 5 to 1 – yes, I do play favourites:

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[REVIEW] The Prophet of Yonwood – Jeanne DuPrau

Jeanne DuPrau
The Prophet of Yonwood (Ember, Book 3)
Random House Yearling (US & CA: 8th May 2007)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

This third book of the Ember series is actually a prequel. Nickie Randolph has temporarily moved to Yonwood, North Carolina, to help her aunt get their ancestor’s house ready to put on the market. Finding a girl and a dog in an upstairs closet is just the first strange thing Nickie discovers about the town.

Eleven-year-old Nickie is certainly goal-oriented, and like Lina and Doon from the other novels in this series, she often launches into her investigations without stopping to think of others. And I expected more from Hoyt McCoy’s storyline, which is kind of anti-climactic.

War between the United States and the Phalanx Nations (what?) is imminent, but the people of Yonwood seem to think they can prevent it by following “orders from God”, as seen by a prophet, and interpreted by a midguided bitch. Everything from keeping the lights off, to…well, the bus scenes are simply heartbreaking. And what’s most frustrating is that the townsfolk totally do everything the interpreter says, even if they don’t agree. Not cool, y’all!

The Prophet of Yonwood explores theology, philosophy, post-9/11 paranoia and fearmongering, and love. A great spark for serious discussions about big issues, the story still remains relevant to kids. Prepare to be frustrated with the characters, but the novel is nonetheless engrossing. These four volumes have made a fabulous series, a must-have for inquisitive children – and adults, too.

[REVIEW] The Diamond of Darkhold – Jeanne DuPrau

Jeanne DuPrau
The Diamond of Darkhold (Ember, Book 4)
Random House Yearling (US & CA: 23rd March 2010)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

Lina and Doon are struggling through winter when they obtain a book meant for the people of Ember. Only most of the pages have been torn out, and only eight pages remain, mostly graphs. And Sparks is running out of supplies, so Doon and Lina return to Ember to learn and gather what they can. But there’s a new danger in their underground city…

I love The City of Ember and The People of Sparks. I skipped the prequel, The Prophet of Yonwood, but the only reference to that is in the epilogue here. The Diamond of Darkhold is by all means a great read, but lacks the emotional connection that made the first two books so fabulous. The characters are clearly presented as good or bad, missing those shades of grey vital to avoid the players seeming like cardboard cut-outs.

I love the Ember books for bringing important worldwide issues to young readers. I love the futuristic and realistic settings. I love the affable characters. Buy this series for any tween, but most importantly for you. Many thanks to Jeanne DuPrau for creating and writing this awesomeness.

March 2010 Releases

Done with February 2010 Releases? Here are the March 2010 Releases. To look further into the future, check my Reading Wishlist.

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[REVIEW] The People of Sparks – Jeanne DuPrau

Jeanne DuPrau
The People of Sparks (Ember, Book 2)
Random House (US & CA: 12th April 2005; UK: 2nd February 2006; AU: 3rd April 2006)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

Four hundred people from Ember have made it into the outside world, to a town where they’ve decided to integrate. The people of Sparks, however, have different ideas. They feed, house, and train the refugees, but supplies are dwindling and tension is rising.

Jeanne DuPrau brings up some big issues in a non-preachy way. Warfare, refugees, greed, hunger, toil, secrets, and lies are all major players, but the characters make these elements work. Lina and Doon are definitely flawed, but stick with them and they’ll come through. Realistic, relevant, thoughtful, entertaining, and emotional, The People of Sparks is a brilliant sequel to tough-to-beat The City of Ember. I’ve already reserved my copy of The Diamond of Darkhold

[REVIEW] The City of Ember – Jeanne DuPrau

Jeanne DuPrau
The City of Ember (Ember, Book 1)
Random House (US & CA: 26th August 2008; UK: 2nd October 2008; AU: 1st December 2008)
Buy (US) Buy (UK) Buy (CA) Buy (Worldwide)

Ember is running out of supplies. After graduating from school, Doon starts his job in the Pipeworks, hoping to really contribute to the community, and learn how dark the city’s problems are. Lina wants a foot in every pot, and all the help she can get – her grandmother, also her guardian, is on death’s bed.

Lina accidentally stumbles upon a centuries’-old escape plan, to the world outside Ember. Surviving a journey in a toddler’s mouth, the Instructions now have bits missing, and Lina and Doon must piece together what they can to find a way out of Ember, and a way of saving their city.

Jeanne DuPrau’s contribution to the fabulously innovative subgenre of dystopian YA is outstanding. It’s easy to relate to these characters, who often feel – and are – out of the loop. Their love for their city and desire for a better life elsewhere are emotionally realistic, and breaking out also challenges them physically. Life in Ember feels somewhat historical, so steampunk fans may flock to this, too.

Good news: there are two more novels in this sequence, as well as a prequel. Me want!