Book Review: The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau

people of sparks duprau Book Review: The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau

The guide and I entered by that hidden path, to return to the clear world: and, not caring to rest, we climbed up, he first, and I second, until, through a round opening, I saw the beautiful things that the sky holds: and we issued out, from there, to see, again, the stars.

So says Dante in the final canto of the Inferno. And this is how Jeanne DuPraus The People of Sparks'begins as well. Having emerged, blinking into the light after hundreds of years of living below the earths surface, the people of the City of Ember can only anticipate what awaits them. And theyre entirely without preconceptions, having spent their lives reading propaganda telling them that they are the chosen ones, and that nothing exists beyond their underground city. And, perhaps, indeed this was true for some yearsEmber is, in effect, a colossal bomb shelter, a Noahs Ark, where a select group of people were sent in the hopes that some of humanity might survive in the aftermath of a series of terrible wars.

Still reeling from strange, novel concepts such as sunlight, trees, and animals, the Ember natives experience an immense culture shock when they find themselves among the small village of Sparks, whose tiny population has been struggling to live beyond subsistence level for some generations. The Sparks people grudgingly take in these new immigrants, offering them shelter and food in exchange for manual labour, but its not long before differences start to arise. The Ember natives are physically different from those of Sparks, and are unused to outdoor and manual labour; they also exhibit strange knowledge gaps that render them culturally inept in the eyes of their hosts. Those of Sparks feel that theyre being put upon by a group of gadabouts with no work ethic, while those of Ember feel as though theyre being used as workhorses for the Sparks natives own ends.

And then comes the inciting act, after which the two groups become quickly and sharply divided, with the Sparks residents wanting to cast out those from Ember, and those from Ember determined to rise up against their oppressors. Its only young Lina, however, who has seen the devastation wrought by violence and war in her travels who sees that there must be another solution to dealing with their 'situation.

The City of Ember'was a superb start to this series, and The People of Sparks'keeps the standard high. Though beginning hot on the heels of the ending of Ember, it can easily be read as a standalone, and looks at quite different themes indeed.

Key to the novel is the idea of cross-cultural facility, and the way in which cultural differences and unfamiliarity can easily breed resentment. The Ember natives have an entirely different knowledge base from those of Sparks, meaning that theyre typically perceived as deficient. Where their knowledge extends beyond those of their hosts, theyre seen as being arrogant and boastful. Both arise from an innate wariness of the other, and the struggle to maintain appropriate power relations. There are myriad examples of stereotyping and prejudice (on both sides) throughout the novel, and despite the simplicity of the narrative and prose style, the approach is quite thoughtful indeed.

Separate from, but related to, this is the overarching theme (or moral, perhaps) of pacifism and cooperation. Theres an innocence hereLina has to ask, for example, what war means, and the same goes for weaponthat is quickly downtrodden when the two groups of people intersect, and for many the only conceivable response is violence. Linas pacifist stance is to be applauded, but I couldnt help but wonder why violence/pacifism hadnt weighed more heavily on the Sparks natives minds given that they live in a war-raved, postapocalyptic scenario. And although I did like that the inciting incident was something so minor, I did feel that the stakes needed to be higher for the characters to so quickly decide to resort to battle with each other.

If youre after a postapocalyptic middle grade series that thinks while it entertains, and that backs all this up with believable world-building, Id certainly recommend DuPraus City of Ember'series.

Rating: ????? (excellent)

Support Read in a Single Sitting by purchasing The People of Sparks from

Amazon | Book Depository UK | Book Depository USA | Booktopia

Other books by Jeanne DuPrau:

city of ember duprau Book Review: The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrauprophet of yonwood duprau Book Review: The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPraudiamond of darkhold Book Review: The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau

See also the film adaptation of City of Ember:city of ember film duprau Book Review: The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau

Related Posts with Thumbnails