In The Diamond of Darkhold, Jeanne duPrau goes back to her original time frame as established in The City of Ember and continues the tale of Lina, Doon and the people of Ember and Sparks as they forge a new future together.
When a Roamer visits Sparks, Doon and Lina end up in possession of the last eight pages of a book (or rather, by the sound of it a booklet) that appears to have been intended for the people of Ember when they left their city. Lina and Doon decide to go back to Ember and try to find the “diamond” that the book is describing. They find their city changed and even inhabited, meaning finding the diamond hidden there will be harder than they expected.
This was a solid end to the series. I personally didn’t find anything deeper in it than an adventure that would set the characters (and their children and children’s children and… etc etc) up for a new and hopefully better future. Like The Prophet of Yonwood before it, the book has an epilogue tacked on the end that is essentially a list of “what happened after” that, while not good storytelling, was a nice way to let us know where that new future is going to lead. (Although I did think the plot point of the “travelling star” was totally unnecessary and a waste of space – as was its setup back in Prophet.)
The atmosphere of abandoned Ember was nicely done – a homecoming that isn’t a homecoming to a place that is no longer familiar – and it was nice that Lina and Doon got to say goodbye properly this time. It was also nice to see some of the other children from both Sparks and Ember working together, showing that the groups are slowly beginning to merge.
I know the book is written for children/young adults and, as such, should have adventurous and brave protagonists, but I have to say, from a parent’s point of view, that if Lina and Doon were my kids they’d have turned me grey long before now. Enough with the running off at the crack of dawn and leaving messages hidden so they won’t be found until the two of them are well on their way. As a kid myself – and maybe even right up to before I had a kid of my own – I probably took such things in my stride and didn’t notice, but these days I’m always wondering where the parents are or throwing up a silent cheer if they are present and useful characters.
All the same, like I said, this is a solid end to the series and it has been a satisfying journey. I like a good post-apocalyptic tale and while I don’t think this series has the depth of the other YA post-apocalyptic series I’m reading (Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn books), I enjoyed it all the same.
The Diamond of Darkhold
The Books of Ember, Book 4
The Books of Ember: