Book Review: The Prophet of Yonwood

The Prophet of Yonwood by Jeanne DuPrau

Posted December 9, 2020 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

The Prophet of Yonwood

The Prophet of Yonwood

by Jeanne DuPrau

Series: The Book of Ember #3
Publisher: Random House on May 9, 2006
Genre: Dystopia, Science Fiction
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
Rating: ★★½

Check out this book on Goodreads

Nickie will grow up to be one of the first citizens of the city of Ember. But for now, she's an eleven-year-old girl whose father was sent away on some mysterious government project.

So when the opportunity to move presents itself, Nickie seizes it. But her new town of Yonwood, North Carolina, isn't what she'd anticipated. It's a place full of suspicion and mistrust, where one person's visions of fire and destruction have turned the town's citizens against each other. Nickie explores the oddities around her—her great-grandfather's peculiar journals, 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. Or is it already too late to avoid a devastating war?


You know that feeling when you start a series… and you’re pleasantly surprised by how much you like a book!  So you keep reading the series and book two isn’t great… and then book three comes around and it’s not great either and you’re stuck trying to decide to hold out hope for the last book or cut your losses?

That’s where I am after The Prophet of Yonwood.

Recognizing, of course, that I am far older than the target audience for this series.  The City of Ember is great.  It’s a really accessible middle grade dystopia with believable science and events.  And the books that follow it are also accessible, but they are less impressive.  Even though this is a prequel, our new characters Nicole and Grover are very familiar.  Possibly because they have very similar personalities to Lina and Doon from the first two books in the series.  Their world is different, their interests are different…  but stripped down, this didn’t feel like anything new.

In addition to the cookie-cutter characters, by setting The Prophet of Yonwood so far before The City of Ember and The People of Sparks, a lot of the more interesting elements of the story were missing. The Prophet of Yonwood, if anything, feels like a companion novel to the others.  The characters in this book are only vaguely present in the others, and because of the rewind, we’re so far back we don’t even really get to see the dystopia unfurl.  All in all, a bit of a disappointing book.

The Prophet of Yonwood tells the story of a zealous women who deludes a fearful town into following the incoherent mutterings of a traumatized child.  That’s not what it says on the dust jacket, but that’s the bare bones of the story.  Characters are predictable.  The plot is lackluster.  Consequences are minimal.  The stakes are minimal as a whole, though an individual scene here or there had meaning.  I don’t know that I would have finished it for lack of interest, but it was so short it felt like I might as well.

Even though there’s only one book left in the series, this marks me as finished with the Book of Ember series.  I enjoyed and would still recommend the first book, but the other two failed to intrigue me.  Younger readers may enjoy the other three books, but unless they’re aching for something vaguely related to the world written by Jeanne DuPrau, I suggest skipping The Prophet of Yonwood altogether.  It adds nothing to the story.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★
Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★
Writing: ★★
Pacing: ★★★
Narrator: ★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★

Two and a Half Stars


Have you given up on a series in the middle?  What book pushed you over the edge?  Did you regret it and want to come back to the series later?  Let me know in the comments!

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