Months have passed since young Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow were forced to escape the dying subterranean city of Ember and flee to the town of Sparks, where they must struggle through a harsh aboveground winter. The situation seems hopeless until they chance upon a battered, fragmentary book that contains references to a device that could save them and their doomed city. To find that wondrous machine, the pair must descend to a realm where every hope seems but an echo….
Children's Literature - Naomi Milliner
Nine months have passed since Lina, Doon, and their fellow Emberites left their underground home and joined the people of Sparks. Although the initial hostilities and arguments are over, life is still filled with hardships, and "Doon could see no way to make things better." Then one day a roamer appears and Doon trades for a mysterious book with only eight pages remaining; a book clearly marked for the people of Ember! Convinced that help of some kind can be found back in Ember, Doon and Lina sneak away and make the perilous journey together. Once there, Doon is captured and held prisoner by a family living off the supplies left behind. The father shows Doon a breathtaking blue diamond, which Doon takes with him when he escapes, certain that it holds the key to everyone's survival. This fourth and final title in the deservedly popular "Book of Ember" series is an exciting and satisfying conclusion. DuPrau has also given enough exposition so that a newcomer could enjoy it as a stand-alone. Lina and Doon are wonderful heroes. As the author points out, they "used the ordinary powers of courage... kindness... curiosity and knowledge." Because they use these powers, rather than supernatural ones, they are characters we can all identify with and root for. This story is ultimately one of hopeand every one of us needs that. Reviewer: Naomi Milliner
School Library Journal
A solid and satisfying conclusion to the "Ember Saga," set in a post-disaster future. Hostilities have died down between the citizens of Sparks and the refugees from the underground city of Ember, and all are working together to survive the brutal winter. A roamer brings forth the barest remains of a book that intrigues Doon and Lina because it alludes to a mysterious device that may still be in Ember. They decide to go back to see if they can find any answers or, if nothing else, food. What they find is the Trogg Family, travelers who have taken over the remains of the city, scavenging supplies and making grand plans. Doon is caught and shackled, leaving Lina to try and make her way back to Sparks to get help. Once again, the teens, both remarkably self-sufficient and imaginative, are able to save themselves and figure out at least a small part of the mystery left behind by the Builders. In doing so, they help their community and ultimately the entire planet. And the epilogue gives the answer to a question raised in the series' prequel, The Prophet of Yonwood (Random, 2006), namely, what Hoyt McCoy was up to with that telescope of his. All the loose ends are tied up neatly and everything ends on a positive, hopeful note. Satisfying, indeed.-Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library
Chronologically third, but listed as fourth in the Book of Ember series, the latest entry begins with an enticing vision of pre-Disaster events, in which the Builders of the underground city make provisions to assist the emerging Emberites. Things are not going well in Sparks, as the stress of the Ember newcomers is bringing back a frightening scarcity of food, warmth and hope. This hard life pushes Doon and Lina into adventure as they discover an artifact that inspires them to return to their abandoned city to relieve their troubles. In so doing, the pair meets odd characters who add spice to events by managing to be humanely kind and selfishly scary in almost equal measure. Doon and Lina's knowledge of Ember helps them find solutions in dire straits, but it also takes work and grit to discover the true meaning of the jewel-like object central to the plot. Readers will find this fast-paced and clever final installment closer to the original than either of the other sequels and will enjoy the logical future detailed at the end. (Science fiction. 8-12)
From the Publisher
"An electric debut. Lina and Doon’ search parallels the universal adolescent quest for answers.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred
Read an Excerpt
In the village of Sparks, the day was ending. The pale winter sun had begun to sink behind a bank of clouds in the west, and shadows darkened the construction field behind the Pioneer Hotel, where workers labored in the gloom. Winter rains had turned the ground to a soup of mud. Stacks of lumber and piles of bricks and stones stood everywhere, along with buckets of nails, tools, old windows and doors, anything that might be useful for building houses. Though the daylight was almost gone, people worked on. They were trying to accomplish as much as possible, because they could see that a storm was coming.
But at last someone called, "Time to quit!" and the workers sighed with relief and began to pack up their tools.
One of the workers was a boy named Doon Harrow, thirteen years old, who had spent the day hauling loads of boards from one place to another and trying to measure and cut them to necessary lengths. When he heard the call, he set down the rusty old saw he'd been using and looked around for his father. The workers stumbling across the field were no more than shadowy figures now; it was hard to tell one from another. Ahead of them loomed the hotel, a few of its windows shining dimly with the light of candles lit by those too young or old or ill to be outside working. "Father!" Doon called. "Where are you?"
His father's voice answered from some distance behind him. "Right here, son. Coming! Wait for--" And then came a sound that made Doon whirl around: first a shattering crash, and then a shriek of a kind he'd never before heard from his mild-mannered father.
Doon ran, squelching through the mud. He found his father sprawled on the ground beside a broken windowpane that had been leaning against a pile of bricks. "What happened?" Doon cried. "Are you hurt?"
His father struggled to his knees. In a hoarse, strangled voice, he said, "Tripped. Fell on the glass. My hand."
Others had gathered now, and they helped him up. Doon took his father's arm. Enough light remained in the sky for him to see what had happened: the palm of his father's hand was sliced open, gushing blood.
One of the men standing nearby tore off his shirt and wrapped it around the wound. "Make a tight fist," the man said.
Doon's father curled his fingers, wincing. Blood stained the shirt.
"We have to get to the doctor," Doon said.
"Yes, that cut needs stitching up," said the man who'd given his shirt. "Go quick, and maybe you can make it to the village before it rains."
"Can you walk, Father?" Doon asked.
"Oh, yes," said his father in a weak voice. "Might need another . . ." He trailed off, holding out his hand, and Doon saw that the shirt wrapped around it was already soaked with blood.
"Ice would slow the bleeding," someone said. "But we don't have any."
A woman took off her scarf and passed it to Doon, and another man ripped strips of cloth from his shirt. Once the injured hand was wrapped in these, Doon and his father started across the field.
"You'll need a lantern!" cried a boy--one of Doon's friends, Chet Noam. "Go on ahead. I'll get one and catch up with you."
They walked as quickly as they could, but it seemed unlikely they'd avoid getting wet. A few raindrops were already drifting down. Doon felt their light, cold touch on his face. Rain had become familiar to him by now. Since he and his people had arrived here in Sparks from the city of Ember, where sun and rain alike were unknown, four rainstorms had swept over the land. The first had terrified the people of Ember, who thought something dreadful had gone wrong with the sky.
A voice called to them from behind, and Chet came running up. "Here," he said, handing Doon a lantern made of a can punched with holes and containing a burning candle. "And listen," he added. "A roamer has arrived, wanting shelter at the hotel. Tell people that if the rain stops, there'll be trading in the plaza tomorrow morning."
"All right," said Doon. He and his father turned again toward the town and hurried on. "Is the pain very bad?" Doon asked.
"Not too bad," said his father, whose face was unnaturally white. "It is bleeding a lot."
"Doctor Hester will know how to stop it," Doon said, though he wasn't sure of that. The doctor did the best she could, but there was a great deal she couldn't cure.
They passed a grove of trees thrashing in the wind. Behind the trees, a little distance off the road, a tall building loomed. A patch of blackness showed where a section of its roof had fallen in.
"They still haven't fixed it," said Doon as they went past, but his father didn't even look up.
The damaged building was called the Ark, the place where the people of Sparks stored their food supplies. The first rainstorm of the winter had been too much for one of the many rotten spots in its roof. Beams and chunks of tile fell inward. Shelves toppled. Jars and crocks broke and spilled, sacks of grain tore open, and rats got to the food before the cave-in was discovered. Even to begin with, there had been barely enough food stored in the Ark to get everyone through the winter. After that storm, a great part of the food was ruined.
"Father," Doon said. "Press your hurt hand tight with your other hand. That might keep it from bleeding so much." His father nodded and did as Doon said.
The rain came harder. In the last rays of evening light, Doon saw the lines of water like silver pins in the air. He put up the hood of his jacket, shivering. When he was faced with troubles, Doon usually looked for solutions and took action. But tonight he was feeling disheartened. So much about the winter in Sparks had been hard. People were ill with coughs and fevers, and some of them had died; they were hungry nearly all the time; and there had been one accident after another. A candle flame caught a curtain and set a house on fire; a toddler wandered outside at night, fell into the river, and drowned; there was the hole in the Ark's roof; and now this gash in his father's hand. Misfortunes came from every direction, it seemed, and Doon could see no way to make things better.
From the Hardcover edition.