City of Ember

The City of Ember (Book of Ember, #1)The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ve been reading/listening to a lot of YA and Middle Grade fiction the last couple of years. I find it interesting how the stories and narrative style of these genres have been changing over the years. I thought the story concept was clever and think maybe a young reader, like my seven year old niece would like this book. It’s exploratory and encourages kids to be curious, even though many of the adults in the book say you shouldn’t be curious.

I liked the idea that these people had been underground for so long that they’ve forgotten about the surface and the words and stories that went a long with it. So when the hero and heroine of the story learn things that we’re familiar with their discoveries are fresh and exciting, like a baby discovering its hand.

I think what I found disconcerting about this book was its narrative. I felt like the book was trying so hard to be told by a kid that I felt like the book was talking down to me instead of just being itself. I realize that’s a funny thing to say about a narrative, but it definitely felt like an adult talking down to a child versus an adult talking with a child. Many older YA and Middle Grade books feel like that, which is why I think I never read them much as a child myself, so I was surprised to realize that the book was published in 2003.


Kinarra Part 2 – Colonization

Kinarra was colonized in two phases. The first colonists flew to Kinarra in the traditional way, at the relativistic speeds of a starship traveling at almost the speed of light… or was it the speed of light? 😉 The mission of these colonists was to create a human sustaining civilization on the planet Kinarra, which is in the neighboring system to Talithia (more on that later). When the colonists got to Kinarra, it wasn’t as green as they had expected.

The colonists second mission was to build a Warp Gate near the planet so that the planet could be easily connected to the rest of the colonized Confederacy of Planets. In short, a Warp Gate is a man-made  wormhole that would allow starships to pass through one gate and leave through another. The Warp Gates are what allow commerce from each of the colonized worlds of the Confederacy to flow.

The trip between Telithia and Kinarra only took four years, but due to unforeseen complications, it took almost 150 years for the Warp Gate to be built, this was enough time for a distinct culture to manifest among Kinarrans.

The people of the original settlement would eventually become known as Mainland Kinarrans since they were all born under its surface and ultimately descendants of the original colonists. Any colonists who’s settle on Kinarra or in any of its orbiting space stations post Warp Gate completion would become known as Colonial Kinarrans. Even though the original settlements were able to manage themselves, the Colonials came and usurped the existing government, replacing it with one that was more in-line with the overall Confederacy of Planets.

With more trade coming to Kinarra through the Warp Gate, space stations were built in orbit of Kinarra: Kinarra-1, Kinarra-2, Kinarra-3, Kinarra-4, and at the time of IDENTITY Kinarra-5 is under construction. Most Colonials live in the space stations, but there are a few who live on Kinarra’s surface as governors, medical physicians, teachers, or businessmen. Very few Mainlanders live on the space stations. But more on this in a later post…

Note: I got the top picture from a website entitled “The Future,” where concept art has been posted of future scientific developments. And the wormhole picture I got from a place called The Living Moon where there is extensive wormhole discussion.


FairestFairest by Gail Carson Levine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved Ella Enchanted and had high expectations of this novel. I enjoyed it, though I didn’t enjoy it as much as Ella Enchanted. There was a lot more singing that I expected, until I was reminded that this land was filled with singers. I listened to the full cast audio so I got a full operatic performance of this book. It would have to be a musical if this book were to ever become a movie.

The base story of a girl who thinks she’s ugly was a refreshing twist for Snow White, though I must say that I was surprised to realize how vain Aza was even though the rest of her personality was caring and compassionate toward others. Even though I didn’t agree with her position on beauty, it made for a good story arch. I liked how she got trapped within the lies and temptations of beauty and I was especially happy that she didn’t become “typically beautiful” at the end of the story.

Though this is only the 2nd book of Ms. Levine’s that I’ve read/listened to, I like the note that each of the heroines had to save themselves from the curses that afflicted them. Yes, they may have had a little help from their male counterparts or female companions, they still rescued themselves in their time of need.

I think this is a good book to hand to a girl who thinks herself beautiful and for the girl who thinks herself ugly. It’s a good book to understand the dangers of vanity as long as you can get past all the random bursts into song. [wink] [wink]