Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

The Prophet of Yonwood

YonwoodThe Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau

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I didn’t realize I had done this when reading these two books back to back, but I managed to finish out two trilogies with this book and with A Dangerous Man. While the first was a brutal look at life in the Russian mafia, this is a gentler sort of book, but with a theme just as dark. The Prophet of Yonwood is a prequel to The City of Ember and The People of Sparks, and sets the stage for the events that led to those books. I didn’t realize this as I was reading the book, but found out that this was only because I hadn’t read anything about the book before seeing it at the library.

Prophet is also a timely book, thanks to its theme. The story centers around a woman’s prophetic vision of destruction, complicated by the fact that the woman then falls into a semi-catatonic state.  One woman in the town takes it upon herself to be the woman’s caretaker, and interprets what she is saying to be passed along to the rest of the community of Yonwood.  Of course, she soon becomes the only person who is in communication with the prophet, and the rest of the members of the community follow what she says blindly.  As a result, people are no longer allowed to sing, or dance, or anything else that this woman interprets as being a sin, based on the prophets mutterings.

This book shows what can happen if people blindly follow what one person says is right, and how it tends to snowball from one thing into another.  What’s most disturbing about the novel is what happens to the people who persist in doing what has been declared a sin … and how it seems to be accepted.  Given the current state of politics and world affairs, it’s easy to believe in this sort of a situation, especially in areas where people are willing to be led.

As a result, The Prophet of Yonwood is a heavy-handed book.  I don’t disagree with the theme of the book, but I wish that it hadn’t been hitting me over the head at every possible moment.  I understand that juvenile books have to be a bit more accessible and straightforward, but given that I’ve also read some juvenile books that approach heavy themes more subtlely, I can’t help but think that DuPrau underestimated her readers’ abilities to understand her point.  That being said, the story is compelling, and once I was about a third of the way into the book, I was sure that there was no way I was not going to finish it.

You can probably skip over this book and not lose anything from the entire Ember trilogy.  Plus, I hear that there’s a fourth book planned for the final book in the series, which picks up after The People of Sparks.  I’m eager to read that one, too.

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January 11, 2007 - Posted by | Juvenile Fiction, Reviews

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