The City of Ember is based in an underground world created hundreds of years ago to preserve humanity after famine, war and disease overtook the Earth. At the end of the first book, the main characters, Lina and Doon, discover the outside world. The city of Ember was dying, so our protagonists needed to find another home for their people. This leads to the second book in the Ember series, The People of Sparks. The second book showcases that while the new world brings salvation it also brings issues. The problem of adapting to the outside world is what I find most interesting about this dystopian novel.
A fascinating aspect of The People of Sparks is how the residents of the city of Sparks utilize and manipulate the Emberites. When the people of Ember escaped the dying city, it was Torren, a resident of Sparks, who first encountered the refugees. When he sees the numbers of the Emberites Torren is appalled, “Four hundred! In [his] village, there were only 322. He swept his gaze out over this vast horde. They filled half the cabbage field and were still coming over the hill, like a swarm of ants” (DuPrau 10). The hateful comparison foreshadows the tensions between the people of Sparks and the people of Ember.
Furthermore, the people of Ember are out of their element, therefore, more susceptible to manipulation. Lina becomes homesick and realizes that “[i]n Ember, everything was familiar to her. Here everything was strange” (DuPrau 42). The Emberites are shown as very ignorant when it comes to many basic elements of the Earth. For instance, while touring the city of Sparks, Lina is blown away by the sight of pine trees, goats, and bread (DuPrau 26-30).
The three leaders of Sparks meet the night of the refugees’ arrival to work out a system that will allow the city to continue to function even after the inconvenience of doubling their population. They unanimously decide that “[t]hey work—they help in the fields, they help with building, they do whatever there is to do […] As far as I can see, they know nothing (DuPrau 45). This method is how the people of Sparks would leverage control.
The conflict comes to a climax when “[i]nstead of getting easier as the days went on, work for the people of Ember got harder. It wasn’t just the work—it was the heat they had to work in” (DuPrau 104). The Emberites lived off of “…nothing but scraps to eat” and become hostile towards the people hosting them (DuPrau 110).
This conflict demonstrates a similar theme in many dystopias: the battle for control and power. The people of Sparks hold all of the supplies, rations, and necessities that the people of Ember need to survive and therefore there is building tension between the two populations as they try to cohabitate. The people of Sparks utilize their control to make the people of Ember work long and hours to survive. This idea creates the basis for a dystopian society.
DuPrau, Jeanne. The People of Sparks. A Yearling Book, 2016. Print.