Wednesday, July 19, 2006

And where were the effing birds?

City of Ember kinda came outta nowhere for me. As awesome as it was, I loved People of Sparks more, which (as far as I could tell) wasn't the most popular opinion (but then, have I ever sought out popularity?). I thought that the social issues were fascinating and interestingly done in a children's book. Overhanging both books was my nagging curiosity: what exactly happened to drive people to create an underground city? How did humanity reach that point? Since DuPrau dealt so well with the implications of two cultures merging in Sparks, I was greatly anticipating The Prophet of Yonwood, where, I suspected, I would find out the answers to all my questions, what with it being a prequel, and all.

First, two disclaimers: 1) I don't really remember specifics from the first two books. 2) I'm not an animal person (fine. call me a heartless unloving person. Whatever. I don't want to clean up after them, I don't want hair on my stuff, and I don't want to have to come home to check/feed/walk/pay attention to anything. Basically, I'm adverse to responsibility. I have plants. I like those. Now leave me alone about it.). These two items may have affected my appreciation of this book.

Second: Dig the cover. Aesthetically. Not sure really what birds have to do with it, but perhaps the fact that I read it a week ago and lots has happened since then has given me Quantum Leap brain (swiss cheese, get it? ha. I'm such a dork). But I was expecting something more, er, Hitchcock-ian.

To the meat: It was interesting for what it was. It seemed younger than the last two, but that might just be me. (gosh, I'm really being passive aggressive tonight.) I'll be honest. I was disappointed. I wanted more than she gave me. I wanted to know what happened. Instead, I get an epilogue. Admittedly, this was a good representation of how the situation would be viewed through an 11-year-old's eyes. Nickie is far more concerned with escaping the tense, overpopulated city, falling in love and making the world better (in that order) than the impending, yet shadow laden World War. The applicable commentary for today's world scene is obvious, though not painfully didactic. It would make a VERY good discussion book for the middle school set. Excellent, actually, in that role. In no way must one have read the first two books, however, it isn't the best introduction to DuPrau, in my opinion. She creates a tension filled world with easily recognizable and realistic villains. Ultimately, the lesson is that despite how scary the world becomes, one simply MUST think for one's self. A good message to a demographic assaulted with suggestion. +9

Disturbing sentiment: "Listen, honey. I want you to remember this. When you know that you're doing God's work - then you're willing to anything. I mean anything...I think you and I have the same thing in mind - a bright, clean world where everyone knows how to behave! Wouldn't it be splendid?" OMG. And you SO know people like this.

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