Friday, November 9, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau

Title: The Prophet of Yonwood
Author: Jeanne DuPrau
Narrator: Becky Ann Baker
Publisher: Listening Library
Edition: Unabridged
Series: Ember, Book 3
Duration: 6 hours, 19 minutes
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
It’s 50 years before the settlement of the city of Ember, and the world is in crisis. War looms on the horizon as 11-year-old Nickie and her aunt travel to the small town of Yonwood, North Carolina. There, one of the town’s respected citizens has had a terrible vision of fire and destruction. Her garbled words are taken as prophetic instruction on how to avoid the coming disaster. If only they can be interpreted correctly. . . .  
 As the people of Yonwood scramble to make sense of the woman’s mysterious utterances, Nickie explores the oddities she finds around town—her great-grandfather’s peculiar journals and papers, a reclusive neighbor who studies the heavens, a strange boy who is fascinated with snakes—all while keeping an eye out for ways to help the world. Is this vision her chance? Or is it already too late to avoid a devastating war?

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5
I haven't been much of a fan of the other books in the Ember series; as far as children's books go, they're okay. However, even for children's books I find them too simplistic and the characters too stereotypical. The same holds true for The Prophet of Yonwood. I was able to get through this book, because it wasn't Nickie that bothered me; it was all the adults. I know that children's books often put adults in the background, which can seem strange, but I hate it when they make the adults look stupid and clueless. I couldn't believe that the village followed Brenda Beeson, when she was obviously discriminating against people and taking control of the town. To some extent, this would have been believable, but most everyone followed this lady's every word. To put it simply, it drove me crazy.

The Prophet of Yonwood is the prequel to the Ember series, before the City of Ember has been created. A woman named Althea sees the apocalyptic future and pretty much goes crazy. As she rants, the villagers take her words as what they need to do to prevent doomsday. This includes a bunch of restrictions such as no dancing and no music that eventually escalates into there being a restriction against having dogs. Nickie takes things into her own hands at that point and tries to both get her dog back and understand why the prophet Althea would forbid dogs.

Like I said, the characters were all stereotypical and the adults were simply stupid. They were sheep being herded around by Brenda's crazy proclamations. Nickie's aunt is clueless throughout the entire novel, to the point where she doesn't even realize that another person and a dog is living in her house for quite some time. I also thought the ending was a bit too glossed-over happy. It ends with Nickie being an old woman going down into the city of Ember. No mention of her kids, which I was curious about. And there's only one reason (and not a very good one, I think) that is mentioned for why she is allowed to go to the city. As an old woman, and since they have limited supplies and room, I wanted there to be some sort of special reason Nickie is allowed into the city -- some sort of area of expertise or something. But none of that information was given.

The narration was average. While I didn't hate the audiobook, I don't feel like Baker truly brought it to life. She did the normal things like change voices for each character, which I admit was well done, but other than that, there was nothing outstanding about the narration. Like the previous book, The People of Sparks, this one had sound effects, and I disliked them for the most part. At times they enhanced the story, but they were mostly distracting.

If you're reaching for books to get your kid to read, and they seem to like dystopias, I think this series would be appropriate. It's at an easy reading level, and kids might enjoy it a little bit more. However, I don't think that it's a timeless children classic or even a good children's series. It's okay. Adults might not get much enjoyment out of it, although I will admit that the previous two novels are much better than this book.