The City of Ember is a dystopian novel. Although it takes place in the future, the mysterious Builders of the city from a couple of hundred years ago have greatly restricted their technology. Instead of phones, they have Messengers who run from place to place delivering messages. They have no movable lights or cars; the only light in the entire city comes from the many lamps lining the streets and in their homes, and they can only walk or run to places.
When creating the City, the Builders knew the people would eventually need to emerge from their new home – after 200 years, to be exact. They created the Instructions and locked it into a box with a timed lock, to be passed down from mayor to mayor, set to open when those 200 years had passed. Yet, when the seventh mayor became sick and desperate for a cure, he brought the secret box, which no one but the mayor knew about, to his own home. Unsuccessful in opening it, and passing away soon afterward, he became the last to know of its existence.
The story then skips to around the year 240 (in years of Ember), where the lights have now begun to flicker and sometimes temporarily go out, and their food, supplies, and resources are beginning to quickly run out. 12-year-old Lina re-discovers the now-open box. However, since her little sister Poppy ate some of the paper message contained inside, she struggles to make sense of it. She and Doon, her former friend and former classmate, set to work attempting to decipher it and save Ember from the imminent permanent darkness.
I usually don’t like dystopian stories, but The City of Ember was actually an enjoyable book that contained logical puzzles throughout.