Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"The Prophet of Yonwood", by Jeanne DuPrau

~Review by Jonathan Bisson~

“The Prophet of Yonwood”, written by New York Times Bestselling Author Jeanne DuPrau, is a literary and moral triumph. This book is under the fantasy/sci-fi genre, and it is about $15.95 (hardcover format), was published by Random House Children’s Books, and is roughly 304 pages long. “The Prophet of Yonwood” is the third installment in the Book of Ember series; however it is actually a prequel to “The City of Ember” and “The People of Sparks”, telling the story of a time of turmoil and chaos before the city of Ember was constructed.

The setting is present (possibly a few decades into the future) in Yonwood, North Carolina, a small town in the United States. The book opens with Althea Tower having an apocalyptic vision, in which she sees a terrible future filled with explosions, fire, and violence. Althea Tower is then named a Prophet, yet is left in a dream like state after having this vision, and the residents of Yonwood are struck by terror at the face of such a horrible future (especially with the United States already on the brink of an all out war). Thus, based on the mumbled words of Ms. Tower and the acts of Brenda Beeson (Ms. Tower’s interpreter), Yonwood tries to better itself in the name of God so that they may be spared this prophesied future. A few months later, an 11-year-old girl named Nickie and her aunt, Crystal, arrive in Yonwood planning to sell Nickie’s great-grandfather’s house, appropriately named Greenhaven. The story then tells of how Nickie tries to accomplish 3 inner goals, and of how she and Yonwood react to one another.

Many themes of Jeanne DuPrau’s past books are also present in “The Prophet of Yonwood,” with some new additions as well. The characters and plot are extraordinarily constructed. All the characters are believable and quirky (from downright creepy to funny) and the plot is easy to follow and interesting. The overall feeling of the book differs with each chapter as well. For example, there are very cute and funny moments involving Otis (Nickie’s dog) or Grover (an interesting boy fascinated with snakes, with whom the story alternates perspectives with). At other times, the overall feeling is tense, like at moments when the President is issuing news on the dwindling deadline before war and with news of terrorists in the woods outside of the town.

In addition to delivering a riveting story, Jeanne DuPrau has also presented many moral questions and themes in “The Prophet of Yonwood”. It is for moral reasons most of all that I’m assuming she wrote this book. For example, on page 254 while the war is drawing closer, Nickie wonders that if terrorists, Americans, and other groups of people all say God is on their side, which side does he support? Can he be on everyone’s side and be talking to everyone? Does God really talk through people, or do people merely speak what they’re thinking/hearing from something else and just claim it’s God talking? Throughout the book, Jeanne DuPrau offers such themes as utopias, choice of trusts and sacrifice, what true love is, and life in general. Though she addresses such deep and philosophical topics as these, amazingly, she does not disrupt the flow of the book by doing so. Such topics are mainly brought up through the mental questions that Nickie asks herself, but they aren’t discussed in great length and they can be understood by children and adults alike.

When compared to “The City of Ember” and “The People of Sparks”, I would personally say that “The Prophet of Yonwood” delivers a less-fantastical story than its predecessors. Yet, I like this novel best because of its messages that hit home a bit more considering the terrorist activity in the world today, as well as fanaticism with God and war as well. “The Prophet of Yonwood” will appeal to children from ages 8-14, but this is not to say that teens and adults won’t enjoy it as well. If you’re looking for an interesting, new story beyond “Harry Potter” or “Lord of the Rings”, definitely read “The Prophet of Yonwood”; for the fantasy, for the morals, and for the future...


At 6:46 PM, Blogger lilsurfer44 said...

So then what is the conflict?

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Fobster said...

Is the war a type of nuclear world war 3 or what?

At 5:55 PM, Blogger Lily said...

This is a great book! Read it!


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