Letter Essay Number 9: City of Ember


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As a group, we finished The City of Ember, a dystopian and science-fiction novel. It is 270 pages long. We read it because it looked intriguing after reading the back cover preview.  

The residents of the City of Ember, want to survive some kind of cataclysm, so they created an underground city called Ember. The residents of the city do not know about the outside world. The Builders, the people who created the city, created a secret document about how to get out of the city, and put into a secure box, which would open 250 years later. It was given to the mayor, and instructions were given to him/her to pass the box on to the next mayor. One of the mayor’s, Lina’s Great Granddad, was sick, and he thought that there might be medicine in the box. He stole the box, but died before he could pass it on. People keep thinking that they have enough resources to last them for an eternity, but soon, some people start being skeptical. Doon and Lina, on the twelfth year of their lives, are assigned their jobs. Doon wants to get a job in the pipeworks, while Lina wants to get a job as a messenger. The jobs are picked randomly from a sack that the mayor carries to the assignment meeting. But Doon gets messenger and Lina gets the pipeworks. Since Doon wants to help everyone and try to fix the city’s problems, he switches jobs with Lina, to try and save everyone from the blackouts. Doon wants to improve the city, but because he is so young, nobody wants to listen to him. So after Lina finds the instructions, she starts believing Doon.


We did not understand why didn’t either Doon or Lina tell their elders about the secret exit out of Ember. Even though they were chased by the police, they had many chances to tell either their parents, or just anyone on the street. If they told any adults, then it could have been much easier making people believe them.


We were surprised that the generator workers only replaced and oiled the parts, but never repaired the generator for long term use. On page 48, Doon went down to the generator room and asked a worker about the generator and Jeanne Duprau writes,


“Can you explain to me about the generator?” he asked. “Can you tell me how it works?”

The old man just sighed. “All I know is, the river makes it go.”

“But how?”

The man shrugged. “Who knows? Our job is just to keep it from breaking down. If a part breaks, we got to put on a new one. If a part freezes up, we got to oil it.”


This surprised us because in the book it said that the generator breaks down about every 20 minutes and the workers in the generator room aren’t fixing it. Since they live underground, working with the generator is the most important job since they need electricity to live. The workers are just trying to maintain it. Staying in Ember for one more year might not be possible.


We did not agree with the Mayor’s decision to chase down Doon and Lina, because the mayor was the one committing the crime. They arrested Lina for no reason. The mayor did it because he did not want any of the citizens to know about the problems and that he was lying the whole time so he arrested her to keep his secrets unknown.
We found this book very interesting, because they didn’t know anything about the outside world and how simple things worked like candles. We want to read the next book in the series, and watch the movie. If we would rate the book, we would rate it 9/10.

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