Thursday, January 15, 2009

REVIEW: The People of Sparks, by Jeanne DuPrau

This second book in the Ember series deserves some horn tooting. It's hard to follow up a novel like Ember, considering the level of originality in that first book. But DuPrau has written a truly brilliant contemplation about how warfare begins, and, hopefully how it can be averted.

Lina and Doon have emerged from their cavernous home to discover an unimaginably beautiful but complex world above ground. They join the people of Sparks, a small town that has very painfully etched a living out of the hard earth. The Sparksians try to help the people of Ember, but soon find reasons to hold these small, relatively weak people in contempt. The physical labor required for the farming life is completely unfamiliar to Emberites, and to the Sparksians, the newcomers seem feeble, stupid, and lazy.

This second book of the Ember series is a powerful fable about how misunderstanding leads to a breakdown in compassion, and how this breakdown leads to anger, and ultimately violence. It's a powerful read, and will provide lots of opportunities for discussion among child and adult readers alike. Hats off to DuPrau!


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