Monday, February 8, 2010

The Prophet of Yonwood and The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrau

Oops! Hey everyone, I forgot my order of monthly posts! :0) Here's what was supposed to run last week!

The Prophet of Yonwood

Storyline: Nickie travels to Yonwood to help her aunt Crystal clean out her great-grandfather's house. Nickie wants to stay in Yonwood—she imagines a sleepy little town will be a lot better than Philadelphia, where she and her mother live in an apartment.

She has three goals for the time she'll be in Yonwood: make her ancestor's house her home; fall in love; and help the world. When she arrives, though, she finds that the town is anything but sleepy. A girl is hiding in the house's closet—a man searches the heavens for signs of extraterrestrial life—a boy is fascinated with snakes—and a woman has recently seen a vision of disaster—and the townsfolk are determined to eradicate evil in their midst so that they may be protected from the disaster.

When Nickie decides to help Brenda, the woman spearheading the effort to eliminate evil, she finds herself over her head.

My Take:

The only interest I found in this book was the origin of Ember and it's location. Other than that, there's not much of a reason to read it.

It seems to portray God as some grouchy man in the sky. While the book does speak a tidbit of truth in saying God dislikes things that take our love away from Him, the "Christians" in it are portrayed as people who don't know what they're doing and who try to bully others into being "saved" with prophecies of doom. There's no mention of repentance and acceptance of God's sacrifice for us. Certain things in the town are forbidden, like singing, dogs, and romance novels (the book does show Nickie looking at and reading romance novels left by her friend Amanda. From what the author could have done, the account is relatively chaste—it just was unnecessary for a kids' book). Anyone refusing to obey these "laws" has a humming bracelet put on them and is ostracized by the townspeople.

And in the end, we still don't know where the vision came from.

It really tells me that believers have to show grace to the world around us, lest we be taken as bullies determined to take away the enjoyment of life.

Rating: two out of five stars

The Diamond of Darkhold

Storyline: Lina is unsatisfied with her life aboveground. Everything is too hard—there's no electricity, no running water—and no messages to carry. It's cold, there's thunderstorms, wolves, and many other dangers.

Then Doon trades a match for a book from a roamer. Though there are only eight pages left, he finds hints of a useful treasure left in Ember. He and Lina plot a secret mission back to Ember so they can retrieve the treasure and maybe some other supplies that could help the people of Sparks through the winter.

Things take an unexpected turn when they discover other people living in Ember. But they can't last long—the city is mostly dead. Doon and Lina have to find the treasure, before it's too late—not only for them, but for the people of Sparks, too.

My Take:

One thing I really didn't like: at one point, two kids from Sparks (Torren and Kenny) and one Emberite girl (Lizzie) decide to go after Lina and Doon. Lizzie thinks that Lina and Doon might have run off together somewhere to "set things up like a real home." While she goes into no detail, just that little tidbit was very unnecessary for a kid's book.

On the technical side, there's nothing wrong with this story.

Doon and Lina's shenanigans without telling adults are getting a little old. Other than that, it's just as good of a read as any other the other books. It's fast-paced and exciting, and has several good-sized obstacles they must overcome to read their goal. Their discovery leads to an easier life for their people.

Once again, Doon's experimenting and curiosity is well done. It's his experimenting that leads to learning how to use what they've found to improve their situation.

It's definitely time to take a break from the Ember books.

Rating: three out of five stars

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