Monday, August 27, 2007
"It's A Stretch To Call That A Prequel To Ember"
Yesterday we did one of our twelve-hour car trips. That meant it was time for a book on CD. The family member I travel with was a big fan of The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau and has been after me to provide the CD of the prequel, The Prophet of Yonwood. He was hot to know how everyone got into the city of Ember in the first place, how it was created, what drove them down there.
As you can tell from the quote above this post, he was disappointed.
Seriously, The Prophet of Yonwood has nothing to do with The City of Ember. It's a totally unrelated, stand alone story. The connection is made in what sounds like an epilogue on the CD.
Perhaps I don't know what the word prequel means.
Oddly enough, Prophet, on its own, kept this listener's attention. I say oddly because it seems to me that the book leans very heavily on a couple of unattractive stereotypes: 1. People of faith are maniacs. 2. Southerners are idiots who will believe and do whatever they're told. I was annoyed, but I listened. If I hadn't been trapped in a car, perhaps things would have been different.
A citizen of Yonwood, North Carolina has what sounded to me like a seizure or stroke, which leaves her incapacitated but muttering a few disjointed words every now and then. A wildly religious woman leaps to the conclusion that the invalid is a prophet whose mind has been damaged as a result of a vision from God. This second woman interprets the invalid's mutterings to fit her own religious views. The entire nation is living under threat of a war with some mysterious group, but Yonwood will be saved, this woman claims, if everyone does what she says the propet is instructing them to do.
And every single soul in town believes every word she says and lets her lead them around by their noses.
Our child main character (who I actually did like) comes from out of town and feels herself being sucked into the town's belief system because she wants to do the right thing. This, to me, was believable. If the story had been smaller, if it had been about an adult forcing her belief system on a youth group or a 4-H Club or a day care group, I could have bought into it. Some of the issues DuPrau deals with are thought provoking. It was just so hard to take them seriously in the context of this particular set-up.
A good character and thought provoking issues. If only the story itself hadn't been so over-the-top.