Sunday, July 16, 2006

What I’m Reading – The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau

The Prophet of Yonwood is actually a prequel to The City of Ember and The People of Sparks. City of Ember was a great book that follows a couple of citizens of Ember. Ember is an underground town that completely relies on electricity and reusing all of their goods. DuPrau created a great adventure as things start to go wrong in the city. It is a wonderful book, however, the two follow-ups are not nearly as good. In the People of Sparks the author sucks all of the fun out of the series and prattles on about her politics as the residents of Ember meet another community.

This brings us to The Prophet of Yonwood, which is not a bad book in and of itself. DuPrau is writing in the modern world this time, as war is possibly reaching to the U.S. 11-year old Nickie and her aunt travel to North Carolina to take care of a huge house they inherited and intend to sell. However, the city of Yonwood has a “prophet” who is guiding the town through a series of weird decisions in order to avoid the coming destruction in the prophet’s vision. Some of the town’s leaders are overly hyper in following the prophet’s messages and bans the citizens from things like singing.

Its not terrible and the author creates some neat characters and some incredible worlds, but a few things wreck it. DuPrau is too transparent and the plot reveals its secrets much too soon. Also, this is really a standalone title. It technically connects to the other two, but it’s a loose relationship. I wholeheartedly recommend The City of Ember, but despite the positive reviews by SLJ and others, the other books in the series are not of the same quality. Readers interested in the themes of DuPrau’s work should read Meg Rosoff’s solid How I Live Now and Mark Dunn’s great Ella Minnow Pea.

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