Back to the future
I think we can just pretend like the last book never happened and carry on with the series here. However, I did notice that the tone of the book is slightly more adult than the first two in the series. I’m not sure why that is. It could just be me thinking that after reading the third book. I like that we return to Sparks and the people of Ember.
We revert to the characters Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow. They are the same as they always were, except this time it’s winter and Doon wants to help his people. So, instead of Lina sparking the idea, it’s Doon who runs the show and starts their adventure together. I quite like that it’s not always Lina being the leader.
We meet a few characters along the way. This time, we have a “bad” family, the Troggs. They aren’t inherently bad characters, in fact, they’re quite nice. But apparently, when you find a “gold mine”, you need to protect it and keep your family safe. This is what the Troggs do, which is why they are portrayed in such a bad light. You could say they are quite selfish.
We also follow Lizzie Bisco (from Ember), Torren Crane, and Kenny Parton (both from Sparks) who figure out that Lina and Doon are off on an adventure. Torren is his usual self, sneaking around and wanting to be part of the action (because he feels left out). Kenny is worried and curious about his new “big brother” and Lizzie is her selfish self (she only worries about what she looks like or who she is with).
I guess I want to touch on the subject of compassion and empathy. In this book, DuPrau stepped away from the destruction and war of the last few books and touched on compassion. We see this with the Trogg family (spoiler ahead) as they capture Doon. They feed him, keep him warm and give him a bed. Now, they could’ve done many great things, but they are friendly people inside. We also see this same compassion when (spoiler ahead) the people of Sparks take in the Trogg family and let them live in the village of Sparks.
Another theme in this book and the other books is the power of knowledge. There is a spoiler ahead. As Lina talks with a Trogg and draws the Trogg’s message, she also writes down a message for Doon in words, which the Troggs, having lost their education, cannot read. This is a positive message, and I do hope the children that read these books see how you can arm yourself with the knowledge to overcome obstacles.
Lastly, I’d like to mention that children should just be children. Here we see Lina and Doon go out on an adventure together. Obviously, they don’t care about the consequences of their actions (which should be ignored). But it’s still fun to read children discovering and solving problems.
If you liked the first two books in the series, please do get this book. It follows in a similar vein to the others and has the adventurous spirit that the first two had. I like the characters Doon and Lina and how they mix. I also like the post-apocalyptic world that DuPrau has created. It’s simple and not so negative like a few other books I’ve read lately. If you’re just reading this and haven’t read the other book reviews in the series, then I recommend getting books 1, 2, and 4. Book 3 can be skipped.