11 February 2011

The People of Sparks by Jean DuPrau

In this sequel to the juvenile fiction book The City of Ember, Jean Duprau explores the post-apocalyptic world that is Earth after multiple wars and plagues have struck.  The "Emberites," having discovered a way out of their underground, dying city, must now find their way in a bright, hot world that they know nothing about. The former citizens of Ember stumble into the village of Sparks, a small town that has finally managed to begin flourishing on its own after the great disasters of the past.  The villagers graciously agree to take the Emberites into their village and help them learn how to build and farm for six months.  Tensions grow between the two groups sparking conflict and accusations on both sides.  As tension mounts, violence escalates until disaster strikes.

This series follows a very straightforward, post-apocalyptic world storyline.  The author does, I believe, a fantastic job in presenting such a topic in a way that young readers can grasp.  The main characters and heros are pre-teens who make tough decisions; it is easy to identify with their struggles for acceptance among peers and to make difficult decisions. I enjoyed this novel as an audiobook.  The narrator was very pleasing to listen to on my daily commute.  The recording company has included small sound effects in the background here and there, which are a pleasant addition that don't deter from the reading/listening experience.  The only problem I had was the the copy I borrowed from the public library had a lot of scratches and skipped frequently. Not a single disk was left unscathed! I suppose this is an expected occurrence when borrowing children's audiobooks, but I would recommend either reading the book or obtaining the audio from elsewhere (DBRL also offers the downloadable audio version of this--I suppose that would have been a better choice.)

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