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.