So I Read the City of Ember
I’m picky about my narrative. I could apologize for being a books snob again but you know what, I’m proud that I like what I do. I think I have good taste. Of course, everything thinks they have good taste.
When it comes to older fiction or literary fiction, I enjoy a good narrative POV. Omniscient doesn’t bug me like it tends to bother others and if the author's voice is strong but I still am able to slip into the Character’s skin a little, that is even better. There are many authors who are quite skilled at this.
When it comes to modern genre fiction I tend to like a close POV in limited third person. Basically what this means is that the camera shifts from the author's hands to the character's head. It is how I strive to write, and it is what I love to read.
City of Ember broke this rule. The POV is very distant, only occasionally slipping into the head of either the female lead Lina or the male lead Doon to give us a bit of a glimpse into their inner thought life. The
Somehow despite all that, Lina and Doon were characters that were easy to love. What was it that drew me in so completely? Worldbuilding. All through the book the concept of another world, a different city, is offered up suggestively, but we never get the hint that anything we are seeing is off or wrong. It’s natural that the sky is black and that light cannot be moved. It’s natural that everything comes from stores underground and that everything needs to be recycled. It’s natural that no one should ever leave. Being immersed into the world with such brilliance and specificity we find it so easy to relate to and connect to the characters.
Perhaps this is the same with us on a larger level too. There is a term that we should not judge until we’ve walked a while in someone’s shoes. The same imagination that helps us sink into the underground world of Ember should allow us to see into the lives of our neighbors. Is it hard to understand why someone might see the world differently than you? Ask some questions, learn the details of their lives, and then engage your imagination to try to understand things from their point of view.
What books have you read that have great world building? Comment and let us know about your favorites.