Ever since I saw the movie based on this book a year and a half ago, I have really been interested in reading it. The movie was a lot of fun and reminded me of some of those throwback live-action Disney movies of the 80s and 90s. And if the movie is good, well let's be honest: there's a good chance the book is even better (there are very few exceptions to this rule.. The Devil Wears Prada I'm lookin' at you!).
Anyway, even though I have had this book on my to-read list for a while I just have not gotten around to reading it. Part of it was that this is definitely a children's book (reading level 5.3!), so it would have to be one of those "in the mood" type books. Plus, on the message board I frequent there are just so many recommendations that books like this tend to end up somewhere in the middle of my 150-book to-read list, forgotten. However, they are definitely remembered when they're discovered on a shelf at a local Waldenbooks that is closing its doors and has everything 60% off! And with a $5.99 price tag (I can't believe children's books are still so cheap! Argh!), 60% off of that is pretty much nothin'. So I bought it.
The book takes place in a dystopian society where an underground city called Ember is built to protect a small population of people in case things on the Earth's surface don't go too well. Ember has no natural light and is luminated by giant lights from above, and there's a huge generator that powers the city. However, approximately 250 years after being settled, the generator isn't doing too well and the citizens are getting more and more concerned. Supplies are also running low, and everything from lightbulbs to canned foods is in scarce. They aren't aware that anything exists outside of Ember though, for a reason you discover later in the book.
Two 12-year-olds who live in Ember, Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow, stumble across some instructions that they think might be a way to save Ember, whether through a way out or a way to fix the generator. Their adventure begins as they start deciphering the instructions from a piece of paper that is torn and missing in many places.
What I noticed about this book was how closely the movie followed it. There were some changes and a few added cinematic elements that made the film a bit more exciting, but all in all the bones of the book stayed the same. The premise of this book is also so unique and also has what I felt was a veiled social commentary of the times we live in. Overall, I loved it, and would highly recommend. The City of Ember is actually the first book in a short series, so I will eventually be reading the rest of it. I'm hoping the rest are just as good as this one was.