"The city of Ember was made for us long ago by the Builders. It is the only light in the dark world. Beyond Ember, the darkness goes on forever in all directions."
I read the graphic novel version of this book first, and fell in love with the story and setting. The city in question lies literally shrouded in darkness, and it is dying. Two twelve year olds discover a lost set of instructions which may save the residents of Ember- and they're determined to figure out what they mean and how they are meant to help the residents. DuPrau thinks of everything here- how the townsfolk acquire their jobs, how they grow their food, where their energy comes from, and even the storerooms that the legendary "Builders" left to them. The big twist is discernible, if you really sit and consider what's really going on behind the scenes, but it doesn't lessen the enjoyment of the story and the direction of the plot. The story is slow in parts, and feels like there's more filler than necessary, but that could just be due to the fact that I read the graphic novel first, which distilled all the important points down into a manageable size. The characters are real and relatable. The city is described and fleshed out in great detail, and you can see how the days and nights are spent for the residents of this dark city. It seems appropriate and understandable to any child over the age of nine or so. My ten year old really enjoyed it, and we're excited to get to the next to see what happens!