The People of Sparks (The City of Ember Book 2)

by Jeanne DuPrau

Paperback, 2005




Yearling Books (2005), Edition: Illustrated, 352 pages


Fantasy. Juvenile Fiction. Juvenile Literature. The People of Sparks picks up where The City of Ember leaves off. Lina and Doon have emerged from the underground city to the exciting new world above, and it isnt long before they are followed by the other inhabitants of Ember. The Emberites soon come across a town where they are welcomed, fed, and given places to sleep. But the towns resources are limited and it isnt long before resentment begins to grow between the two groups. When anonymous acts of vandalism push them toward violence, its up to Lina and Doon to discover whos behind the vandalism and why, before its too late.


½ (1058 ratings; 3.6)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Wova4
The City of Ember and The People of Sparks have reminded me how much fun well-crafted science fiction can be. They balance world building, rich characters, and exploration of serious issues. As with Ember it's easy to get sucked into the technical challenge of The People of Sparks and start
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thinking about how you would solve them. Lina and Doon are well written because they are not adults in child bodies and thus prone to errors in judgment and character that they struggle to overcome. The nature of conflict is handled well, given the intended audience but adult readers may find it a bit pedantic.

Not everything works, but most of the problems are excusable. Tick Hassler and Torren both badly telecast their plot roles. A short epilogue exploring the lean season coming to the village of Sparks would have been nice.
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LibraryThing member fingerpost
Lina, Doon and the people of Ember came up from their dying underground city at the end of the first book, The City of Ember. The People of Sparks takes place immediately afterward. The people of Ember find a nearby settlement, called Sparks. The people of Sparks try to take in the Emberites and
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help them survive and learn to navigate the above-ground world, but it doesn't take long for tempers to flare, distrust to arise, and resentment to abound on both sides. The Emberites are weak and ignorant of how to survive above ground, and the people of Sparks lose patience with them quickly. One thing leads to another (and another, and another) until the two peoples are on the brink of all out war.
The theme is grander and deeper and more moral-centric than what most YA books offer, and it is worth noting that the primary plot line can be discussed without mention of Lina and Doon, the two primary characters. Each has a vital role to play, and each is involved in some sub-plots, but the overall theme of this book is how enemies are made and how war begins.
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LibraryThing member theokester
Last fall I raced through City of Ember and really enjoyed the world and the characters. The ending wasn't a cliffhanger per se, but it really left me wondering what would happen much so that I raced out and bought the next book. Sadly, life got busy and it took me another 4 months to
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finally read the continuation.

In Sparks there are some rather significant changes to the plot dynamics which allow for some intriguing new commentary on humanity and social interactions. We're given a post-apocalyptic world in which humanity is trying to recover and rebuild. This high level genre is compounded by being seen primarily through the eyes of children and also by making the Emberites ignorant of the disasters that befell humanity or even of human history at all. In fact, through the entire first book, they had no knowledge of any other human culture at all and thought their microcosm to be the extent of humanity.

The main new dynamic in the book acted as a commentary on the interactions between people in strained situations and the passions which lead to prejudice, anger, and eventually to war. The plot separated for a time the two main characters from Ember, Lina and Doon.

Lina acts as the reader's guide to understanding the history of this new world and how humanity fell into war as well as understanding the current geography and social structure. She undertakes a journey to one of the old cities in the hopes of finding something akin to the drawing she made in the first book. Instead, she finds disaster and learns about war, disease and destruction.

Doon serves as the reader's guide to watching two struggling groups of people dealing with hardships and sacrifices as the Emberites are taught about life in the new world and how to survive above ground. He feels the sting of hostility as the people of Sparks grow resentful of the Emberites consuming their food and other resources. That resentment grows into mistrust and eventually sparks begin to fly (pardon the pun).

As tensions grow between the people, one of the Emberites named Tick Hassler (an antagonistic name if ever I saw one *grin*) grows hungry for a fight and begins riling up the people of Ember to prepare for battle. Doon feels conflicted throughout and Lina (once she returns) has new found knowledge into the near-destruction of humanity. Unfortunately, by then, things are spiraling out of control and it's difficult to see a viable resolution.

I really enjoyed the character dynamics DuPrau set up in this novel. With very few exceptions, all of the players were honestly trying to do good. She set up some great conflicts which resulted in each group of people trying to do what was good, and yet that "good" was conflicting and causing tension. It's the old adage "you can't please everyone all the time." There are always self-interests of individuals and even of groups which will collide with other individuals and groups. This book presented great examples of how people interact and shows motivation for making compromises and looking at the situation from the point of view of the other person.

It's difficult to compare to Ember and say which I liked better. I think I preferred Sparks because the plot and dynamic was more interesting to think about. Still, they are each presenting such different concepts, that it's hard to pit one against the other. They are great stories with a lot of thoughtful concepts to ponder. It's actually quite thought provoking, especially when considering the fact that it's a children's book. Children and youth will enjoy the vivid characters and the action. Adults can still enjoy it with its fluid writing and its deeper themes.

4 stars (out of 5)
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LibraryThing member melydia
We begin not too long after City of Ember ended, with the Emberites having emerged from their underground home for the first time in many generations, and descending upon the first settlement they encounter: the village of Sparks. This tiny village cannot support these hundreds of refugees who have
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nothing to trade and no skills to take care of themselves, and tensions between the two groups steadily build. To be perfectly honest, I spent a good part of this book being angry at everybody. I know it's supposed to be an allegory, but not a single person in Sparks showed any interest whatsoever in learning about Ember or its inhabitants. These people have been cut off from the rest of civilization for so long that they have never seen an animal and don't even know what the moon is. I'd never stop asking them questions and answering theirs. Luckily, everything does eventually get resolved and I finished the story feeling more or less satisfied. I don't think I'll be continuing the series, however. From what I understand, the latter two books focus more on some mysterious prophecy (which is kind of annoying since part of the attraction of these books, for me, is their plausibility) and hardly feature Lina and Doon at all. This one ends in a good place, though, so I am happy to continue the story only in my imagination.
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LibraryThing member vanedow
I know many fans of The City of Ember thought the sequel fell flat, but I disagree. Sparks is a very different story, but I think it's a good one. I liked the addition of more characters to the storyline; Sparks felt richer for it. Lina and Doon are both likeable characters, but it was nice to see
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them interacting with more people than just each other, as well as getting their own storylines.

My biggest complaint about The People of Sparks was that it got a little preachy here and there. "Why can't we all just get along?" "Don't judge what you don't know!" The message was laid on a little thick and it distracted me from the story now and again, but it wasn't enough to spoil my enjoyment of the book.

I'm having a bit of trouble thinking about things to say about Sparks, but overall, I liked this story. However, like City of Ember, I don't think it has the depth and crossover appeal for an adult audience that some young adult novels do.
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LibraryThing member drewsof
A stronger and more intelligent novel than its predecessor. The issues are more concrete, less abstract ("how do we get along" instead of "how do we keep the lights of our strange underground dystopia running?") and the characters are all stronger and more developed. There are still failings,
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certainly - the excursion to The City is undercooked and the whole thing still feels a bit simplistic - but it's a worthy read even for adults (whereas "Ember" really only gets the nod for kids).

RB review is TK...
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LibraryThing member whiteknight50
I enjoyed The People of Sparks even more than I did the first book, The City of Ember. Both of these books are refreshing, wonderful reads. What I most appreciate about them both is their simplicity, yet they maintain a level of interest and uniqueness that makes the stories engaging, and hard to
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put down.

In this second book, Doon and Lina, and the people who escaped the City of Ember after them, find themselves in the City of Sparks, a post disaster village which reluctantly takes them in for six months. It follows the story of how the People of Sparks and the People of Ember escalate into a conflict over food and livelihood, and finishes with good winning over the evil in the town as a heartwarming finish. Throuhgout this story, Lina and Doon continue to figure prominently in the story, and are part of the final gratifying solution.

This books was fun. Recommended.
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LibraryThing member mattkirschner
I loved the City of Ember, but I found this novel a little more difficult to get through. Though the story picked up much interest as the story split in two directions, much of the story was somewhat bland. The morals were a bit too in-your-face and predictable, though apt and good natured. Overall
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it was an "okay" read, and I'll certainly read Prophet of Yonwood in the hopes that it's more like City of Ember.
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LibraryThing member francescadefreitas
I was so very disappointed in this sequel to The City of Ember. When Ember left off, Lina and Doon had found a way out of the city to the world above, and thrown a note down, hoping that other would join them. I was really looking forward to seeing what would happen as the people of Ember explored
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the world of daylight, and discovered more about what happened to the world their ancestor's left behind.
Instead of an exciting mystery/adventure story, this is a textbook on why hate and fear lead to war and this is bad.
Lina and Doon are separated, so the story is split, following each of them in turn, Doon as he gets caught with a charismatic leader-figure rallying to people of Ember, Lina as she stows away on a trip to see the closest city. Both of them learn, by demonstration or lectures, that hurting people that hurt you is wrong and can lead to BAD THINGS.
And with all the moralising, there are some odd jarring notes. The people of Ember have a very strong sense of entitlement - if people had taken me in, given me food and a place to stay, and were teaching me how to survive, I'd be a lot more grateful and less concerned about a sense fairness which means they have to give me equal amounts of everything they have.
This had none of the charm of the first book, and was a great deal more didactic.
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LibraryThing member busyreadin
Sequel to City of Ember. This is the story of the people of Ember meeting the people of Spark. It's also a story of goodwill, fear and distrust.
LibraryThing member kmcgiverin05
Just as good as the its prequel The City of Ember. A great book about peace, and it really shows how easily actions can be misinterpreted. I recommend this for intermediate to middle school aged students.
LibraryThing member stubbyfingers
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, "The People of Ember," when I read it a year ago. The story was fairly original, and although it's aimed towards younger readers, it was still fairly readable for adults. This book, though, which follows the people of Ember as they cope with living in
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a harsh new world with the people of Sparks, lacks whatever goodness that first book had. It's repetitive and the main problems the characters face seem so easily solvable that watching the characters struggle against them for the entire book was a bit frustrating. The book does have a good message--war is bad and communication is good--and would probably be great for pre-teens, but it's not worth reading for adults.
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LibraryThing member bibliophile26
The sequel to City of Ember. The Emberites have made it out of Ember and have no food or shelter. They have to rely on the people of Sparks to survive. Strained resources and cultural differences lead to tension and almost to war. Lots of parallels with modern society. I've really enjoyed this
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series and look forward to reading the third book (which I believe is a prequel).
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LibraryThing member hockeycrew
In Book #1 of the Books of Ember, The City of Ember, we discover that Ember is actually an artificial world deep underground. The people of Ember follow the young Lina and Doon out of their dying city to discover a post-apocalyptic earth. After several days of travel, they stumble across the colony
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of Sparks, a town of about 300 survivors. The arrival of 400 Emberites threatens the town's resources, so close to reaching prosperity. The people of Sparks initially reluctantly decide to help the People of Ember.

However, some of the people of Ember, so used to their easy city life feel that they are not being given enough help and are being asked to work too hard for their meals. Resentment rises on both sides. Lina in the meantime takes off to explore what is left of part of a city (most likely San Francisco) destroyed by war and disease.

I found this book very interesting, especially when it came to talk about war. There are characters in this book who where so inconsiderate and rude that it drove me half nuts. But their purpose was to show that just because someone is charismatic, it does not mean they are always right. I enjoyed this sequel even more than the City of Sparks.
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LibraryThing member madisonb3
This book was very intresting. I always wanted to read more. It was about a city called Ember that was underground. But the city was dying. So they had to find a way out of the city. A girl named Lina and a boy named Doon found a way out of the city. But after they found a way out of the city they
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had no place to live. So they travled for days to find another city that would let there city stay with them. And after they travled for 5 days they found the city of Sparks.
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LibraryThing member emmaluvsbooks
Looking for a book that imagines the future? Yearning for more after reading the City of Ember? Well then you better go get The people of Sparks. It's more adventure for fans of the 1rst book and a great read for someone just starting to read Lois Lowry!
LibraryThing member bookwormygirl
What happens in Ember stays in Ember, or does it?

The people of Ember have emerged into the light... they are above ground where "it is green and very big and light comes from the sky" - and this is all thanks to Lina and Doon’s wisdom in deciphering the Instructions of Egress left by "The
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Builders". Once above ground, they come upon the people of Sparks, a small farming community. Here the town residents, barely remember the "old times" with incorrect names for old devices, and they have scavengers who pick over the remains of the previous industrial society from several hundred years back. Neither community knows what to make of the other but Sparks takes in the strange 'cave' people - feeding them, giving them someplace to sleep and eventually granting them a six month time frame to learn how to survive in this post-apocalyptic world and start their own community. But soon jealousy and resentment leads to disastrous events and the threat of war looms between the communities.

I have to admit that this story didn't capture me like the first book of Ember did, but yet I still enjoyed it and I found it satisfying in the end. The themes of this book echo the themes of the first book in many ways. You ask yourself - Just what does it take to survive in a new world? How does human kindness or the lack thereof affect and come into play towards the repetition of history?

My favorite quote from the book (and there were many) but this one stood out the most:
"People didn't make life, so they can't destroy it. Even if we were to wipe out every bit of life in the world, we can't touch the place life comes from. Whatever made the plants and animals and people spring up in the first place will always be there, and life will spring up again."

Ms. DuPrau is very good at writing a child's perspective without it seeming overly simplified or unreal. I’m looking forward to the next installment (The Prophet of Yonwood) - from what I read it’s a pre-quel to the first two books so it should answer some of the niggling loose ends about how this world came to be. Once again, this book was a page turner and I read it in a couple of hours. It is highly recommended no matter what the age.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
Sequel - I liked that it took the challenges of the previous book and took the story in a new direction. I also liked that there were some concrete solutions laid out for the nebulous goal of peace.
LibraryThing member knittydragon
Sequel to City of Ember. This book is perhaps a bit more preachy than Ember, but it is a good read and a must for those who want to find out what happens to Lina and Doon. I think it will help a lot of young readers see that people aren't always what they seem, and that working together as a
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community is really the only way to accomplish anything.
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LibraryThing member rfewell
Great continuation of the People of Ember story. I love the post-apocalyptic rebuilding of society!
LibraryThing member katitefft
This second book in The City of Ember series wonderfully continues telling the story of Lina, Doon, and their fellow Emberites after they all escaped their dying underground city. This book might be considered science fiction because it idiscusses what the world will be like decades from now in the
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future, if people continue down such a hateful and destructive path. It also addresses the importance of scientific inquiry through the characters of Lina and Doon, who are constantly trying to figure out how and why things work.
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LibraryThing member Diwanna
A wonderful sequel to The City of Ember. A continuation of the journey of Doone and Lyna. Quite a bit of allegory in this book, tackling issues of war, society, and coping with differences between people. An excellent and easy read.
LibraryThing member LanaLee123
I absolutely love this novel! After reading The City of Ember, I immediately purchase, The People of Sparks, the second of what is now a 4 book series. This book, as well as the City of Ember are unlike and science fiction novel I have read in the past. The characters are relateable, the plot
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creative and the messages productive.
During a recent discussion with a 6th grade teacher, I was also told that her class are huge fans of the series as well. Recommend for middle school, but adults as well!
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LibraryThing member jenzbookshelf
Great book on building community! There is a lot to discuss in this book: fighting, war, mob mentality, power, leadership, peacemaking, forgiveness, doing the right thing, courage, and fear.
LibraryThing member the1butterfly
Read The City of Ember first. This is a great sequel in which the characters find their dreams crushed as sooon as they're born. They've discovered a whole new world and also discovered that that world is, in some ways, less advanced than their old world. They lived in a high-tech crumbling apart
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world, and have moved to a low-tech world that is building itself up, but, like theirs, is still recycling the left-overs of the past. It is a struggle for the children to unite everyone together in this new land with sparce resources. Everyone begins to realize, in the end, that there is hope to join together and to rebuild what was lost before Ember and Sparks came to be.
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Iowa Teen Award (Nominee — 2008)
Colorado Blue Spruce Award (Nominee — 2009)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

352 p.; 7.69 inches


0375828257 / 9780375828256
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