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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The People of Sparks


by Jeanne DuPrau
book 2 of the Books of Ember series
audiobook: 7.9 hours
narrated by Wendy Dillon


*** About the Book ***

The People of Sparks: The Second Book of Ember (Books of Ember)Continuing the story that began in The City of Ember (my review here), the Emberites try to adjust to their new life on the surface.  They find a town where they are grudgingly welcomed – there are more people from Ember than from the town! – and they begin to learn about their new lives.  Tensions escalate, however, as the two very different groups of people are forced to live in close contact on a daily basis.  Will they learn how to live peaceably or will they come to blows?


*** Why I Listened To It ***

Kiddo and I enjoyed book one in this series and we wanted to continue with it.  We got the audiobook from the library.


*** My Thoughts ***

I have a hard time reviewing middle grade books like this.  Part of me was really bothered by the simplicity of the plot and the way the author almost beats the reader over the head with the message (it’s a good message, it’s just REALLY obvious).  Then again, this book is not designed for adult readers so I don’t feel I can hold it to the same standards of complexity.  Kiddo really enjoyed it and I’ll bet that he understood the message that working together, listening to others, and making compromises is the best way to live (we haven’t had much time to discuss it so I can’t be sure).

Still, I enjoyed the series so far and am definitely interested in seeing what happens next.


*** Thoughts on the Narrator ***
Wendy Dillon does a reasonable job with most of the characters in this book but there are times when she tries too hard; every person does not need a completely unique voice.  Her tendency to do just that leads to some rather painful-sounding voices for a few characters.  The rest of her narration is quite good though.

*** Your Thoughts ***

Are the next two books in the series worth reading/listening to?  My library only has them in the audio format that my mp3 player does NOT use so I’ll probably have to buy them if we do decide to listen …

8 comments:

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I really don't know why I haven't read the City of Ember yet -- I've heard so much about it! I'll need to jump on that and then read this one, but will bear in mind your fantastic review!

Heather J. said...

Coffee and a Book Chick - It is a simple story but a sweet one too, and I've enjoyed it for the most part. It's definitely middle grade fiction though.

bermudaonion said...

If Kiddo enjoyed it, I'm sure it's well done.

Amanda said...

Let me ask - did you feel a difference between Ember and Sparks? I felt like Sparks was far more heavy handed with its message. The rest of the series is far more like Sparks than Ember. While I enjoyed the books (especially the third one, which is a prequel of sorts), only Ember really stood out as excellent.

Trisha said...

I've still only read the first in the series and am hem-hawing about whether or not to continue.

Heather J. said...

bermudaonion - He'll be happy to hear that you trust his opinion. :)

Amanda - Yes, Sparks was definitely more heavy-handed. But I often think that comes with the territory (middle grade fiction territory) - the author wants to convey a particular message to the young reader in as clear a way as possible.

Trisha - I'd say this was enjoyable, just don't expect too much from it and do expect it to be message-heavy.

chris said...

I agree with Amanda on this one. Ember stands out as truly fantastic, and the other three are okay.

I have to disagree on the point of teen lit being simpler than adult lit. One of the things I truly love in "The Giver" is the complexity and nuances built into the story. There is enough in there that I can re-read the book and get something different out of it each time, yet it is a book for young adults.

Heather J. said...

chris - I didn't mean to generalize as broadly as I did. You are certainly correct that there are some fantastic middle grade and YA titles out there that are nuanced and complex yet still convey a meaningful message. Still, there are also many books in those genres that are pretty simplistic and straightforward as well, and I guess those are the ones I keep coming across. :)

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