Friday, October 7, 2011

And yet it redeems itself . . .

So last post, one of the books that disappointed me was the 3rd book in the Ember series by Jeanne DuPrau.
Fortunately, the other 3 books in the 4 book series were pretty good.

The first, The City of Ember, chronicles the problem of a city built deep underground.  As the generator that keeps the city alive threatens to die for good, 2 young teens, Doon and Lina, take it upon themselves to find a way out of Ember.  And they do!
In The People of Sparks, the Emberites make it aboveground, only to find that there is almost nothing left.   Society was destroyed at the time that the original people of Ember were led underground.  Of the few villages left, Sparks is one of the best surviving and takes the Emberites in.  This 2nd book chronicles the problems that arise.

Skip the third book.  Seriously.

The 4th book, The Diamond of Darkhold, 
has Lina and Doon traveling back to Ember to find something to help their villages and save them all from starvation.  What they find is something the "builders" left for them long ago that does indeed help them and also spur them back into creating a more "modern" civilization again.

If you ignore the reference to aliens at the very end of the last book, these are really good.  They're clean, they're interesting, and I think my favorite part about them was that they are realistic.  

Many "end of the world" books are all doom and gloom.  And when the world finally does end -- that's it.  We don't know what happens next.  DuPrau instead has the end of the world already over.  These books are about after -- survival, humanity, and hope.  I really enjoyed the feeling that it's not a scary thing to start over. Hard yes, confusing certainly, but not scary.

And I love her insights into things.  I think my favorite lines from all 4 of the books were these:  "And yet, she reminded herself, look at all the remarkable things she and Doon have done!  It wasn't because they had extraordinary powers, really, but because of how well they used the ordinary powers everyone had: the power of courage, the power of kindness, the powers of curiosity and knowledge."

And I thought -- that is what I want to teach my children.  To be courageous, kind, curious, and knowledgeable.  And if more children were taught these things, the world WOULD be a better place.

Read these books -- they're worth it.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Books that Disappoint Me

Usually when I find that I don't enjoy a book because of sexual or language content, or I'm simply not getting into the story, I just put it down.  I have too many others things I want to read to waste my time on a book I don't like from the beginning.

But every now and then, one slips through the cracks.  And I hate that feeling of coming to the end of a book and thinking, "I can't believe I read that".  But how does it slip through the cracks?  Well, usually it's because I THINK it's going to go somewhere and it doesn't.  Two examples:

Brisinger is the 3rd book in Paolini's Eragon series.  I read Eragon and liked it, can't remember much about the 2nd, but when I got to the third there was SO MUCH extraneous information.  I wanted the story to just get a move on.  And originally, this was supposed to be the last book.  As I get closer and closer to the end I'm thinking "how is he going to wrap this up in the pages he has left?"

He didn't.

I finish the last chapter, turn the page, and find a note to the reader information me that he had so much to tell he's decided to write a 4th book.  I think I threw it across the room.  I will NOT be reading the 4th book because I felt like the 3rd was a phenomenal waste of time.  I do not need to know the entire history of every race of creature that populates this world.  Just tell me the dang story!

The other one is The Prophet of Yonwood -- 3rd book in the books of Ember.
I like the first two (I'll post about them later) and was really looking forward to this one.  First of all, the cover art is awesome.  Secondly, it takes place BEFORE the first book and I was eager to see how the city of Ember had come to be.

Big disappointment.

The entire story was completely irrelevant.  Oh there were bits and pieces that could have led to something great but essentially it's the story of one of the girls who eventually goes into Ember.  But there's nothing to do with that until, again, the last chapter.  It was a pointless story about a teenage girl and a random experience she had in a town called Yonwood.  That's completely how I felt about it.  Such a waste of time.

Now I need something glorious to redeem it all.