65% of people buy Prophet of Yonwood (Books of Ember #3 - Prequel) and The People of Sparks (Books of Ember #2) ~ Paperback ~ Jeanne DuPrau.
Gr 4-8-"In this prequel to The City of Ember (2003) and The People of Sparks (2004, both Random), 11-year-old Nickie accompanies her aunt to Yonwood, NC, to help get her great-grandfather's house ready to be sold. Months earlier, a woman in the community named Althea Tower had a vision and collapsed, muttering about fire and disaster. The townspeople interpreted it as a premonition of events since war between the U.S. and the Phalanx Nations is eminent. Althea is hailed as a Prophet and an ambitious Mrs. Beeson appoints herself Althea's interpreter. Soon she's urging everyone to give up sinful things like singing. The townspeople believe that by being virtuous they will build "a shield of goodness" around themselves and not be harmed. In her effort to be a good person, Nickie falls prey to this collective brainwashing and betrays a friend. She has her own secret. She's hiding a dog in the house. When Mrs. Beeson thinks the Prophet has said "no dogs" and forces everyone to get rid of them, the child is outraged and confronts the Prophet to demand the truth behind her pronouncements. This novel has a great deal of immediacy in light of current world events. It sharply brings home the idea of people blindly following a belief without questioning it. However, it's really more of a stand-alone title. The plot details that tie it and Ember together are only revealed in the last chapter, entitled "What Happened Afterward."-Sharon Rawlins, School Library Journal
"With the U.S. teetering on the brink of war and her father off on a secret government job, 11-year-old Nickie's trip with her aunt to the small town where her great-grandfather lived and died is a welcome break from reality. Yonwood, however, is governed by a cabal who interpret for the Prophet, a local woman who has been struck insensible by a fiery vision of doom. Nickie wants to comply with the Prophet's apparent directives, but she struggles to understand how her friendships with Grover, a local boy, and Otis, a lovable mutt, fit (or don't fit) into the Prophet's plans. DuPrau effectively depicts a community in the grip of a millennial fever, the residents eager to appease an angry God in increasingly twisted ways. Less successful are subplots involving Nickie's explorations of her great-grandfather's effects and the weird research of a curmudgeonly astronomer. Thinnest of all is the connection to Ember, which is encapsulated entirely in an afterward. This will disappoint Ember's fans, but those who read this offering with no series expectations will find it a provocative read with an appealingly conflicted protagonist." (Fiction. 10-14) Kirkus Reviews
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