Review: City of Ember

Title: City of Ember

Author: Jeanne DuPrau

Publisher: Yearling Books

Pages: 270

Source: Library

Lina is twelve years old and eagerly looking forward to her assignment. When she picks Pipeworks, she’s dismayed. The last thing she wants is to be stuck underground all day, fixing pipes. She’s even more disheartened when Doon, a classmate, picks Messenger, the best job, and throws a fit… until he offers to trade. Now Lina has the job of her dreams, running around the city of Ember and delivering messages all day. Sure, time are rough; there shortages of everything from food to clothes and the power goes off all the time, leaving the entire city in total darkness. But the mayor will know what to do, right?

Then, Lina discovers a box in her apartment that contains a message. It’s been ruined, but she can tell it’s important. Together, she and Doon work to decipher the message and find a way to save the city of Ember for good.

This was an interesting book with a fascinating concept. It’s a children’s book, so there are things that were very obvious to me that may be a surprise to a kid. I think I was also spoiled for part of it by my mother, who recommended the book for me, too, but that didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book.

I liked the character of Lina. She’s twelve years old and she reads like a twelve year old. A lot of time, it seems like young characters read a lot older, but she was believably her age. I like that she wanted nothing more than to run around all day, delivering messages. I also liked her love of drawing. Doon read as slightly older to me, with his concern with the city and how it was failing and his seriousness. However, there are children who are serious and concerned about the world, so it wasn’t unbelievable.

I thought the plot was solid. Lian finds a message left by the Builders, but her baby sister chews on it so all that’s left are parts of words. I liked how Lian and Doon worked together to decipher the messaged, recognizing words parts and connecting them to the world.

The book ends on something of a cliffhanger, and it was intriguing enough for me to want to read the next book. I’m interested in seeing how the story unfolds.

Review: The Elite

America Singer is part of the Selection, a competition to win the heart and hand of the prince of Illea, Maxon. Once, there were 35 girls, but now it’s been narrowed down to the Elite few, and America is one of them. Despite the rocky start she had with Maxon, the two of them have made a deep connection that puts America on top of the girls for his hand and the crown. The only problem is her first love, Aspen, is a guard in the palace, and despite her deepening feelings for Maxon, America can’t help but learn for the familiar and loving Aspen. With increasing attacks from the Rebels, an ever close competition, and her own inner conflict, America isn’t sure she’ll ever know her own heart, or even if she has what it takes to be the princess.

I didn’t review The Selection because I didn’t have much to say about it. It was enjoyable and I had a good time reading it. I liked the characters and interactions, I thought the world was interesting, and I thought it was a cute romance.

I had a lot more trouble with The Elite. Part of it stems from the love triangle. I don’t particularly care for Aspen because I don’t feel he has much personality outside of “loves America.” And, the more I think about it, Maxon doesn’t have much of a personality either. He has more of one because he’s in it more, but I don’t really feel I know his likes, his desires, or what he wants out of his life/rule. And, therefore, I don’t really think I’m rooting for one over the other. Plus, I hate, hate, hate when characters put themselves in danger for love, which is what America is doing. I especially hate it when I can’t figure out why she’s in love with Aspen other than he’s her childhood friend and first love. The constant waffling back and forth is annoying, boring, and very frustrating.

I did like the mounting tension among the girls. I liked how America thought she was making friends, only to have the other girls remind her that, no, this is a competition. She entered the competition not really planning on competing, and even when she started falling for Maxon, that attitude didn’t change. I liked the reality check and I also liked her commitment when she decided she was really going to try to compete. I wish there had been more on her lessons and what she was learning after those started.

What I’m really interested in is what the book spends the least amount of time on: the rebels and the politics. This is America in the future, with the population divide into castes. There’s some hints on how it got this way, but not enough. Same with the rebels: we’re told there are 2 kinds and there are attacks by both, but we don’t get more than that. My interest in the politics and the rebels is why I’m going to read the next book, because I’m getting tired of the romance and the triangle. I hope that the politics are explored more in the next books.

So, I’m waffling on what to rate this. I rated The Selection three stars, but I don’t think The Elite is a three star books. I think I’m going to rate it 2.5 stars because I still like America and the world, but the book overall fell flat and I didn’t really like it all that much. However, despite not liking the book that much, I’ll l give the next a try because I want to know what’s going to happen.