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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
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*        = Good, with reservations


***The People of Sparks

by Jeanne DuPrau

Reviewed August 3, 2004.
Random House, New York, 2004, 338 pages.

The People of Sparks is the sequel to The City of Ember.  Lina and Doon have led their people out of the doomed underground city.  They find a village called Sparks, where people are willing to take them in and share some of their surplus food.  The world  outside has been devastated by wars and plagues, and the village of Sparks has only recently begun to prosper.

The people of Ember must get used to a whole new world.  Before, all their needs were satisfied with electricity and the storage facilities.  On the outside, there is no electricity, and there are a host of new things they have never seen before:  sky, the sun, trees, birds, animals, and flowers.

The people of Ember have no skills for surviving in the Empty Lands, so they are dependent on the kindness of the people of Sparks.  That kindness begins to wear thin as the two peoples try to live together.

This is a good story, and a fine follow-up to The City of Ember.  It makes the reader think about how much more work there would be after leading the people to safety.  It also explores the causes and consequences of war.

This story is told in a simple style.  The characters have simple emotions.  Occasionally I was reminded a little too strongly that this is a children’s book.  All the same, the simple story seemed realistic and profound.  It made the point beautifully that sometimes a cycle of violence and anger needs to be reversed, or no one will end up winning.

Reader comment:  Jennifer Bijan gives this book 5 stars with the comment, "The best book ever!  I can't wait for the sequel!"

Copyright © 2004 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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