Six Degrees: Rose Red to Doon Harrow
Ready for another round of “Six Degrees of Kool Books”? If you’re not familiar with how this blogging game works, check out my original post on this series. Now let’s jump right in.
Last week, Jenelle Schmidt posted about Eanrin from Tales of the Golden Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. And J.L. Mbewe posted about Dumbledore from The Harry Potter series. As natural as both those choices were, I have to admit I was a bit stymied by which direction to go with my choice. Having never read either of those series, I found that I was really drawing a blank with the other characters. Maybe that’s a testimony to those writers that their characters were so unique that I just couldn’t think of any others that were like them.
In the end, though I did come up with a character to link to, I’m not entirely confident that my choice for a match was really all that perfect of a fit. But I think there is enough of a connection that hopefully this will not appear to be too much of a stretch.
I went with Rose Red (I love that name, by the way) for the character I chose to link to. Jenelle described her as “brave and spirited, loyal and filled with imagination”. And the character this reminded me of was Doon Harrow from The City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau. But it wasn’t just Rose’s bravery that made me think of Doon (most heroes have that in spades). It was Jenelle’s description of her as someone who “when she’s angry and feels like everyone has betrayed her or that she’s all alone, she still does the right thing.” That’s Doon in a nutshell. He has a bit of a temper, actually, and it nearly gets him in trouble on more than one occasion, but his heart’s always in the right place (except occasionally when he’s dreaming of being the city’s savior, a spell from which he thankfully recovers) and he always bobbs up on the right side of the stream.
I read Ember last year (you can read my review of it if you’d like) and truly enjoyed it. I’d seen the movie when it had come out and was not all that impressed, but the book is a delight. Much much better than the movie.
Over the course of the book Doon becomes the best friend and principal confidant of the book’s main character Lina Mayfleet. Lina and Doon, both of whom are 12 years old, are residents of a strange city, The City of Ember (no big surprise there, right?). It’s a city which goes totally dark every night and is lit only by lamps and electricity during what the citizens of Ember call the “day”. Besides this odd arrangement and the societal quirks of the people such as choosing their professions by drawing scraps of paper from a hat, it soon becomes evident that things are not quite right in the city. Food supplies are dwindling. The electric generator keeps shutting off. The Mayor is acting suspicious. And Lina and Doon are the only ones who seem to care anything about it.
As the mystery unfolds, Lina proves herself an energetic heroine worth rooting for. She’s clever, a bit dreamy, and she’s got lots of spunk. She’s a perfect fit as a messenger, someone who delivers individual messages which she must memorize and carry to other people around the city. Her hope never wavers that she can work her way through whatever problems her city is facing. She’s also fiercely loyal to her little sister Poppy who is a typical, rumbling, mumbling toddler whose sole purpose in life seems to be either being cute or making a mess and often the twain shall meet.
Since Lina’s parents have both passed away, Poppy and their grandmother are all she has left. And yet Lina seems to have worked through her grief before the events of the book take place and her main focus seems to be first on her messenger job and then later on saving Ember. Industrious, energetic, and earnest are probably the best words for describing her.
In her quest to discover what’s wrong with Ember, Lina gets varying degrees of help from the other residents of the city. Among the most helpful is Clary Laine who runs Ember’s one and only greenhouse. Lina often goes to her for advice and she seems to be one of the few adults who takes Lina’s investigations seriously. Aside from that, she’s fairly quiet and even keeled, a real “down to earth” person (pardon the pun).
Evaleen Murdo also proves to be helpful, even if she is not quite as supportive of Lina’s quest. She’s a doctor who takes Lina and Poppy in when tragedy strikes and though she is not the most affectionate person, cares for them in a dutiful and attentive manner, doing her best to provide for them with limited resources.
In the not so helpful category is Lizzie Biscso. Known for her bright red hair and talkative nature she begins the story as Lina’s best friend, but they grow apart as the story progresses. She seems more interested in her position at Ember’s storerooms and her new boyfriend, Looper Windly. This ne’er-do-well is the manager of the storerooms and turns out to be a real snake. I mean, with a name like Looper Windly could he be anything else? He seems to enjoy lording his position as purveyor of the dwindling supplies of Ember over the poor residents who come to him seeking their daily bread (or canned goods, as the case may be).
But even shiftier than Looper is Mayor Cole. He comes across at first as concerned for the well-being of the people he represents, but it soon becomes clear that he’s simply there to maintain the status quo, or rather whatever quo serves his status best. Once he discovers what Doon and Lina are up to it becomes clear where his loyalties lie. He is the epitome of the bad person who doesn’t have the least idea that he might actually be bad. He seems to excuse his conduct on the fact that he is a public servant and that by virtue of that fact everything he does is ipso facto done in the best interests of the people.
So that’s the latest degree of Kool Books. I fear this one won’t be nearly as easy as The Hobbit. I actually had a hard time coming up with the descriptions for some of the secondary characters in this one. That is due to the fact that the vast majority of this story focuses on Lina and Doon and they are such compelling characters that the others sort of fade into the background a bit.
Still, I’m sure the intrepid Kool Books participants won’t let me down. They’re on the case and the case is to find the next Kool Book! I’m sure they will not disappoint us.