JEANNE DuPRAU is the New York Times bestselling author of the City of Ember books, which have been translated into multiple languages and are a time-honored staple in elementary school classrooms. She also wrote Escape the Vortex, part of the multiplatform sci-fi adventure series Voyagers. Visit her website at jeanneduprau.com.
Gr 4-8-Nickie longs to escape from her life in Philadelphia where everything seems to be going wrong. She thinks she has found the perfect haven in her great-grandfather's estate in Yonwood, NC. But the war between the United States and the Phalanx Nations seems imminent and the Church of the Fiery Vision takes over the town, and all her goals seem farther away than ever. In Yonwood, people are not what they seem. The host of characters include a prophet and her interpreter who the townspeople blindly follow, a girl in the closet, a boy obsessed with snakes, and a hermit who can crack open the sky. Jean DuPrau has created an unusual prequel (Random, 2006) to The City of Ember (2003) and The People of Sparks (2004, both Random). Rather than the pre-apocalyptic climate one would expect, the backwoods setting, the humming bracelet, and the robot vacuum cleaner give the novel a strange anachronistic feeling. Becky Ann Baker's depiction of the native North Carolinian accent is believable, and she voices all the characters perfectly. Sound effects enhance the telling. Listeners new to the series will have no problem following along this title can stand on its own. The ending drags a bit as DuPrau tries to wrap up all the subplots. Ember fans will be a little disappointed that only the subtleties in the last chapter, "What Happened Afterward," point to The City of Ember. This timely novel offers astute observations about human relations, the fallibility of human perception, and the danger of over-zealousness.-Ann Crewdson, King County Library System, Issaquah, WA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.