The People of Sparks, by Jeanne DuPrau

The People of Sparks, a post-apocalyptic novel by Jeanne DuPrau that was published in 2004, is the second book in the Books of Ember series which also includes, The City of Ember, The Prophet of Yonwood, and The Diamond of Darkhold.

In this engrossing sequel to The City of Ember (2003), young Doon and Lina have led more than 400 people from the underground city of Ember to the Earth's surface, where they find the town of Sparks and ask for help.  They are welcomed, fed, and given places to sleep.  But the town's resources are limited and it isn't long before resentment begins to grow between the two groups.  When anonymous acts of vandalism push them toward violence, it's up to Lina and Doon to discover who's behind the vandalism and why, before it's too late.  It’s a sequel that holds true to its original characters, but puts them in a totally different situation and set of adventures.
 
This novel is a story about immigration, and xenophobia, and war, and fear, and greed.  The villagers of Sparks act in a way that I suspect most of us would like to think we would in a similar position-when confronted with people in need they were generous and caring.  But as time goes on, and resources become more scarce (or are perceived to be more scarce, which amounts to the same thing), the people of Sparks and the Emberites are increasingly at odds.  The Emberites know that they are reliant on the villagers for support, which causes resentment.  The villagers are increasingly afraid that after years of struggle, their relative comfort is threatened by the newcomers.  The leaders of each group make up stories about the "others" to incite fear and anger in order to justify starting a war. 
 
Although this is a very different book than The City of Ember, it is a perfect sequel, and not disappointing in the least.  While The City of Ember may have been more inventive, in terms of an underground city that was on its last leg, this is infinitely more profound.
 
With this book, you also get a lively tale of exploration and pioneering, leadership and individual responsibility, friendship and loyalty.
 
It's a heartwarming and beautiful story.  I look forward to her next book with immense anticipation.
 

Media Reviews

More thought provoking than entertaining... well suited to upper elementary and middle school libraries that support social studies curriculum. - Library Journal

This fast-paced tale of post-Apocalyptic strife will resonate with new and returning fans alike. -  Kirkus Reviews

      
In this ambitious sequel to The City of Ember, "DuPrau offers a thought-provoking novel about brinkmanship and the way societies can plant the insidious seeds of war. – Publishers Weekly

In this exciting and solidly constructed sequel to The City of Ember ThJeanne DuPrau moves the story on entrancingly, bringing along her cast of characters from underground and adding new dimensions and relationships as the action escalates to a satisfying conclusion that still allows for further volumes in this fine fantasy. -  Amazon.com Review

While remaining true to her characters and the building tension of the story, DuPrau clearly explores themes of nonviolence and when to stand up for oneself. The text smoothly involves new readers and fans of the first story, creating a range of three-dimensional characters in both the Ember and Sparks groups. While less gritty and mechanical than Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines (HarperCollins, 2003), and more interpersonal than Lois Lowry's The Giver (1993) and Gathering Blue (2000, both Houghton), this title will hold a similar appeal for readers who enjoy speculative fiction. This novel will make them stop and think, and its immediacy and drive make it a good choice for even reluctant readers. – Library School  Journal

About The Author 

Jeanne DuPrau has been a teacher, an editor, and a technical writer. The People of Sparks is the sequel to The City of Ember and her second novel. She lives in Menlo Park, CA, where she keeps a big garden and a small dog. Click here to go to her official website.