Friday, May 8, 2009

The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau

The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau

*This Review contains spoilers for previous book City of Ember

When Lina and Doon find the way out of Ember they leave a message behind for the rest of the city. The land is open and green, and best of all a huge light shines down from the sky. Soon the people of Ember start coming up out of the cave, and joining Lina and Doon. Now they must figure out how to survive in a new world.

The People of Ember find the little village Sparks, at first the people there are friendly and helpful. The People of Sparks become more and more unfriendly, as they realize just how hard it will be to take care of four hundred more people. The food stores that they worked many years to build up and save are depleting at a rapid rate. As the people of Ember and Sparks interact with one another they find differences and conflicts that lead to name calling, pranks, and open hostilities. Lina and Doon need to discover a way to keep the people of Ember and Sparks from spiraling into violence.

No doubt about it this is a book with a message to share. I think for that reason some people will dislike it. I personally think the message was portrayed very realistically. The people of Ember and Sparks had some real problems with each other, and things kept on getting worse. So, the characters have to figure out a new way of interacting and thinking about people. The quote below shows how Lina and Doon are trying to process some advice that Lina received.

“Instead of getting back at the other side with something just as bad as they did to you—or something worse—you do something good. Or at least you keep yourself from doing something bad.” [Lina] took another bite of the apple. “I think that’s it. One bad thing after another leads to worse things. So you do a good thing, and that turns it around.”

Doon sighed. “That’s not very helpful,” he said. “How are we supposed to do something good for these people who have done so many bad things to us? Why would we even want to?”

“Well that’s it,” said Lina, wiping apple juice off her chin. “You don’t want to, but you do anyway. That’s what makes it hard. Maddy said it was very hard. It’s much harder to be good than bad, she said.”

I also really like how the author shows her younger characters in leadership positions. That was also a really interesting dynamic in the book. Doon’s temper was played down a little bit in this book. I felt like he had more of a temper problem in the first book, but maybe he had grown up a bit more. Yet that would have been interesting to play upon more in this book that was all about exploring and resolving conflict. Overall, I thought this was an excellent book. It had a good believable story, strong characters, and would be a great spring board for discussions with book clubs or kids about important topics. In fact, I liked this book better than fist book, The City of Ember.

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