The City of Ember
Boy/Girl combo must save world, but no one listens to them because they're kids. Sigh. Is this a common theme because it's easy to write or because it's true? Anyway, City of Ember does a great job of creating a world that is slowly dying. The writing is well-paced and subtle details bring to mind a fully-formed, dark grey world with memorable characters, flushed out with just the right amount of mystery. When I was younger I lived in Siberia, and the City of Ember actually reminded me a lot of small-town Soviet Union. Basically, girl and boy must escape a world that is quickly falling into darkness, and hold the sole key to salvation. Again, the mother in me is quick to gasp at the idea of bringing a little tiny toddler along on their dangerous journey (I know, I'm paranoid), but it's okay; she's fine. I didn't get into the sequel (the People of Sparks). I tried, but it just didn't have the same mystery to me as the first. It doesn't quite matter, though; the first was a good story all on its own.
Author: Jeanne DuPrau