Read in 2011. Woot! I had actually seen the first part of the movie before reading the book, though I hadn't seen how the movie ends. As usual, reading is different than watching but there are parts in the beginning that felt almost identical. Especially chapter 1 with the whole picking of jobs thing and the mayor. So, that was strange. Also, when I first bought the book I didn't know it was middle grade, just remember hearing it was a good book. I don't read many middle grade stories but this one is definitely worth an exception.
From Goodreads: The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years later, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever!
The beginning was weird because I'd seen that part in the movie but once I got past that, I really got into the book. It wasn't quite "can't put down" but it was a great read. Both characters are likeable and that is a good thing because the story is told in third person but told from both Lina and Doon. It's a useful story for me because I'm working on two main character novels and it helps to see someone who did it right. But enough general, let's get down into the actual story. Oh and, Read this book!
The city itself is so well done that I can actually believe that a story could be built underground even though in real life I would raise both eyebrows at the mere suggestion of such. While it does spend some time through the novel showing the city and how it's running down, the writing is done in a way that makes sense. There isn't an info dump or anything of the sort. It feels real in many ways and I can see how the people of Ember would be in a panic as their city is deteriorating around them. If I were to really think into the concept I would wonder things like "would not having sunlight exposure affect them" and how does oxygen or air flow word but for now I'm content with just seeing it as a fictional world with an interesting story.
All of the characters are great. I really liked Lina, Doon and many of the other characters. Lina is the main character most of the time, though Doon's role is still large. She is fun, flighty, and has a great imagination. I like how she draws pictures of an unknown city. Always love a dreamer as a main character.
As for the end... I won't say what happens but it doesn't try to make it sound like the only book. Which it's not. This is book 1 of a series and they don't make any attempt to hide that fact. But unlike other books that have not so much of an "ending" types of endings, I actually liked this one. I will point out that it isn't one of those endings where the reader will feel cheated. It does complete what the characters set out to do within the plot, so it's an ending that works even though it's obviously a pause instead of a full stop before the next book. Or at least, if it was the only book I'd feel a little sad and I hope that book 2 shows us the same two characters from book one somehow because I want to know what happens to them.
If my to-read list wasn't overflowing I would go out to get book 2 right now and start reading.