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"In Ember, the sky was always dark."
—Opening lines of the first book.
The City of Ember is the first in a four-book series about the adventures of Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow, who live in the city of Ember, which relies on lightbulbs to keep the town lighted and running. However, the lightbulbs are beginning to dull and food/rations are running out in the city; it won't be long until the entire city is cloaked in eternal darkness and becomes poverty-stricken. One day, Lina finds a letter (which is unrecognizable at first because her little sister Poppy chewed on it), which may possibly lead the citizens out of Ember. However, Lina and Doon have to confront a conspiracy that wishes to keep the truth under wraps...
Books in the Series
- The City of Ember
- The People of Sparks
- The Prophet of Yonwood
- The Diamond of Darkhold
- Adults Are Useless
- Aesop: The second book's underlying theme is basically learning to accept people who are different from you.
- America Saves the Day: Very subtle, but think about it. Americans built Ember, Americans populated it, and Americans provided the revolutionary solar-power diamonds that pave the way to the future. Perhaps one of the few non-war examples. Also ironic in that America helped cause the Disaster.
- Apocalyptic Log: The journal Doon and Lina find while on the raft, leaving Ember. The log is shown to be the work of an elderly Nickie, the protagonist of Yonwood.
- Apocalypse How: On the surface world, it's about a class 1, with a dash of class 2 in some places. Ember is basically untouched by the Disaster though.
- Asshole Victim: in the film the mayor gets eaten by a giant mole after he gets into what he thinks is a safe room
- and really who actually felt sorry for the Jerkass
- Beneath the Earth: the city of Ember, obviously.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: The film has some oversized insects, probably to illustrate the effects of radiation on the wildlife.
- Black Market Produce: Ember is out of a lot of food products and the black market ones are mostly fruit. Pineapples get a special mention.
- A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family: Not a family exactly, but Lina, Doon, and Lina's little sister Poppy have this same dynamic.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Torren.
- Chekhov's Gun: That guy in the 3rd book running those weird experiments to contact aliens? HE SUCCEEDED. They're the mysterious new star in the 4th book.
- City in a Bottle: Ember.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Lizzie, and, to a certain extent, Lina.
- Crapsack World: Played with. Ember was once a nice place to live in, and even on the surface world people seem to generally get along with one another. (with the exception of the 2nd book, but that was partially because the Emberites didn't know how to do anything.) By the end, society has been completely rebuilt into a utopia.
- Crying Wolf: Subverted; the mayor stated that Doon and Lina were lying about the route out of Ember to keep everyone under his reign.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In-universe, at the end of 4th book where Doon has to once again has to put together some letters with Lina that have been broken apart by deciphering the phrases. It sparks off their Maybe Ever After.
- Dumb Blonde: Subverted with Grover, who is very knowledgeable about snakes.
- Fiery Redhead: Lizzie, although she is a secondary character.
- First Time in the Sun: The ending of the film and book one.
- Good Is Not Nice: Hoyt McCoy.
Hoyt: I am not particularly neat or clean; I am certainly not what anyone would call normal. But I am as good as anyone else.
- Grandparental Obliviousness: Lina's grandmother has dementia, leaving Lina with little supervision when she goes off to save the city of Ember.
- Government Conspiracy: The mayor isn't exactly pleased to find out what Doon and Lina have planned.
- Arguably, the plans set by the Builders themselves could also qualify. Going through all the trouble of keeping the true contents of the box a secret. Or seeing to it that no one knew the history of the world leading up to the disaster in an attempt to start from a clean slate.
- Karmic Death: In the film, the Mayor is eaten alive after locking himself in a room filled with food. In the books, it's revealed that he drowned in the river while trying to leave Ember ahead of everyone else. Still counts, though.
- Maybe Ever After - A single line at the end of the 4th book hints that Doon and Lina might be falling in love with each other. There's no further mention of them after that.
- It mentions that they end up sharing a house, so it's safe to assume that they probably did end up together.
- Meaningful Name: The troublemaking Emberite kid featured in Sparks is named Tick Hassler.
- The terrorist nation in the 3rd book is called the Phalanx Nations.
- In a way, Ember itself. Its supply of stored food is finite, as is the stock of light bulbs (and thus the operability of the greenhouse). To make matters worse, the Generator is gradually breaking down, causing increasingly frequent blackouts.
- Missing Mom: Doon's mom is never mentioned in the series, not even once; some fans assume that she died when Doon was a baby/young.
- Oddly Named Sequels: The People of Sparks, The Diamond of Darkhold.
- Plucky Girl: Lina and Nickie.
- Promotion to Parent: Lina to her little sister Poppy, as her parents are dead and her grandmother has dementia.
- Prophecies Are Always Right
- Ragnarok Proofing: The system to get out of Ember still works after all these years.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Mrs. Beeson indirectly cites this trope when Nickie tells her that Grover owns snakes in his shed.
- Scavenger World: The surface world has this as its main economy. Ember began to turn into this by the end as well.
- Shrinking Violet / Fragile Flower: Amanda (Prophet of Yonwood).
- Pre-Teen Genius: Doon.
- Terminally Dependent Society: The Emberites rely severely on the generator, which is the only thing keeping the titular city from plunging into permanent darkness.
- Utopia: Ember. Or at least it was.
- The Film of the Book:
- Sir Not-Appearing-In-This-Trailer: Oscar winners Tim Robbins & Martin Landau.
- Stop Worshipping Me!: Althea Tower
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Mrs. Beeson in The Prophet of Yonwood.
- Waif Prophet: Althea Tower, whose 'vision' makes her extremely ill.