The Books of Ember is a series by Jeanne Duprau that consists of four books: The City of Ember, The People of Sparks, The Prophet of Yonwood, and The Diamond of Darkhold. This is a series I would recommend for middle grade readers. It's set in a dystopian future, but its ominous features are a little more suitable to younger children than some of the popular, more recent stories of a dystopian nature.
The City of Ember and its citizens are introduced in the first book. We are introduced to the city mostly through the events that happen with the two main characters, Lina and Doon. The city is always in darkness, lit only by lights that are controlled by the light keepers. The city itself is pretty modern. Citizens are given jobs, there is a government, there is running water and electricity, and things run pretty smoothly. A group known as the builders has left the city with everything its citizens need to survive, including stockpiles of food, clothing, and medicine.
Soon, we discover that the electricity in the city is becoming less reliable. There are blackouts and there is concern that it will soon turn off for good. In the midst of all of these issues, are Doon and Lina. Doon is convinced that the situation with the electricity is far worse than anyone is letting on. He wants to try to solve the problem. Lina discovers an old box with a message that seems to hold instructions for the citizens of Ember. Unfortunately, it has been damaged and is difficult to interpret.
As the situation in the city worsens, people begin stealing food and are close to rioting. Lina and Doon decide they must try to find a way to help. Taking what they have interpreted from the damaged message, they search for a way out of Ember.
I don't want to give away larger plot points, but I will say that the later books follow the people of Ember through more adventures. The People of Sparks and the Diamond of Darkhold continue their tale. The third book, The Prophet of Yonwood, is a prequel that is set fifty years before the founding of Ember and does not include anything about the events in the other books. But, it does help explain the causes for the building of The City of Ember.
Overall, the series has many adventurous plot points and provides some tense moments without getting overly graphic. The society created in Ember is one that readers can relate to easily. I'd recommend it for readers who enjoy a little adventure. Parents can rest assured that even though the characters are placed in dangerous situations throughout the series, there is no graphic violence.
Elizabeth Woodrum's Blog
Elizabeth Woodrum is the author of the children's book series, The Maisy Files. She is also a full-time teacher and creator of teaching materials that can be found on Teachers Pay Teachers. This blog is a mix of teaching and author topics.