Book #3 of 2009 was an odd little tale called The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau. This was a Christmas gift from a friend of mine, and I admit, this was a book I judged entirely by its cover. I thought it was pretty, and I wanted it. Maybe not the best criteria for wanting a book, but it didn’t really stop me.
I can’t say this was the best book I’ve ever read. There are a few things about it that I just frankly didn’t understand, but to tell them to you would spoil some things, so I won’t. But maybe that’s only because I’ve only read this one? There are at least, I believe, four novels in the series. I didn’t even realize, really, that it was also made into a film just last year—somehow I missed that entirely.
That said… this book has some very interesting concepts in it, and a couple of fantastic characters, to boot. I especially liked the main character’s baby sister, Poppy. One of my literature professors once pointed out (in a William Carlos Williams class—see White Mule) that writing about babies and small animals is both very difficult and very rare to find well done, and I thought Poppy was just a wonderful portrayal of a toddler. She was almost the most believable character in the whole novel. Not that her sister Lina and Lina’s friend Doon weren’t believable, but occasionally there was a bit of a cartoonish feel to the novel. As I read, I was actually constantly going back and forth between imagining these characters as real people and as some sort of animated movie, which I don’t think has ever happened to me before, as a reader. It was actually very interesting, and I don’t know quite what caused it. Some of the background characters—especially the not-so-nice ones—are a bit Roald Dahl-ish, though, so maybe that’s a good part of it.
I’m kind of interested in how this book has had so much buzz and non-buzz about it. Everyone seems to have heard of it, or at least seen it, but almost no one really knows what it’s really about, or maybe that’s just my experience with it. I really do think that this has a lot to do with it’s lovely cover. The whole series has really lovely covers, actually. Maybe you’re not supposed to judge a book by how it’s packaged… but it sure does have some draw over us, doesn’t it?
P.S. Wren & Marnie updated – I know they blog late at night… but hey, they’re in college, that’s just how it works.