Monday, February 9, 2015

The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau, 2004

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"it is green here and very big. Light comes from the sky...."
When Lina and Doon lead their people up from the underground city of Ember, they discover a surface world of color and life. The people of a small village called Sparks agree to help the Emberites, but the villagers have never had to share their world before. Soon differences between the two groups escalate, and it's up to Lina and Doon to find a way to avoid war!

In the riveting sequel to the highly acclaimed The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau explores the nature of conflict and the strength and courage necessary to overcome it. 
(338 pages)

This is the sequel to the New York Times bestselling dystopian The City of Ember, which I reviewed here. There are some inevitable spoilers from the first book, so read ahead at your own risk!

Where Ember was a story of setting and plot, this was a story of characters and relationships. The people of Sparks are reluctant to care for four hundred extra people out of their own reserves, and the people of Ember quickly become embittered about the "stinginess" of their unwilling hosts. The book is one long look at conflict: the small things that can spark big wars, and the devastating effects of human anger.

A few times in the book characters talk about the idea that the only way to stop bad events from escalating, is to return good for bad and convince your opponent to stop the cycle of retaliation. This was the idea that stuck with me most strongly when I first read the book many years ago, and it's the idea that once again hits me with the most force. It's a very important message, and one that everyone could take a moment to consider.

Lina and Doon play prominent roles in this book, which makes me happy because I love them. What I particularly love about them is that they don't let their relationship drama consume the story: in fact, I wouldn't even call it "drama." They go through a small rough patch in their friendship, but it doesn't consume the story. They've each got much bigger issues to deal with as Doon struggles to decide what to do/where his loyalties lie during the revolution, and Lina worries about her sick sister and finding a place to live away from Sparks. They spend most of the book apart from each other, both physically and emotionally, but there's none of that "oh no, we'll never be friends again" garbage that authors often throw in to add some tension.

On another note, it's fascinating to see the world a couple centuries after the cataclysmic events ended. People survive by scavenging goods from old deserted cities, the science of electricity long forgotten. It's like a primitive time period from our own past in many respects (the water pumps, the farming for survival, etc.), but it's also futuristic in the most fascinating and kind of depressing way. Roamers, who pick through ruins to find goods to trade for, drive trucks - that's right, trucks - pulled by horses or mules. One woman buys (via trading) an old sink top with hot and cold faucets, because she likes the looks of it and wants to use it as a candleholder. 

It's hard to put this book into words, but it really is a gripping, fascinating, throught-provoking read about the future, the past, the nature of conflict, and the road to peace. If this sounds interesting to you, read The People of Sparks - I promise you won't be disappointed!

Note: click here to read my review of the third book in the series, The Prophet of Yonwood.

4 comments:

  1. I loved this book. It was awesome how charismatic leader guy (I don't remember his name) and Doon formed a sort of friendship, but how at the end it created conflict. I really, really liked Doon and Lina relationship!!! The climax was nail biting and I was gripping my tablet so hard, it was a wonder I didn't break it (Thank God! :D)
    At the end, when Doon figured out the whole device "thing", I was jumping with joy!
    Such a good series, but I didn't read the third one and probably I won't guess...It veers away from the story to what happened before, and though I wanna know how all the apocalypse stuff happened, I couldn't get invested in the characters as much the ones in the first two books :/
    Are you planning to read the next one?! If you do, post a review..I wanna know your opinion of whether I should continue with the series! :)
    Great review as always :D

    Eclectic Introspections @ Flickering Lights

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    1. Aw, I'm glad you love this book too! You hit a lot of the highlights of the book, like the way Doone shuts out Lina because he wants to be part of the "in-crowd" surrounding what's-his-name (yeah, I can't remember his name either) and how exhilarating the climax is!
      As for the other books, I'm in the process of re-reading them and I'll definitely post reviews! My review of the third one, PROPHET OF YONWOOD, will be up late this month. I am still waiting for DIAMOND OF DARKHOLD to come in at the library (my library has one copy, and someone's hogging it!). PROPHET was less than stellar, it's a prequel that has nothing to do with Lina and Doone and the people of Ember, and it get's kind of . . . rambling. I haven't read DIAMOND in years, so I'm excited to see what I think of it this time around! I kind of vaguely remember being disappointed with it, but I also didn't like SPARKS the first time I read it so I don't trust my little-kid memories of reading the books.

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  2. I had never even heard of this series before. I did go and read your review for the first one and didn't read this one too closely because I didn't want to see spoilers. It sounds like an awesome series!

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    1. It is, it's one of my favorite series! If you do wind up reading them, I'd love to hear what you think of it. :)

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