Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow are the novel’s youthful protagonists. Both are twelve, the age at which children in Ember leave school and join the adult workforce. Lina is slender, with long, dark hair, and, as her surname suggests, she is an active child who loves to run. Doon is a serious boy with a serious face, rumpled hair, and dark, thick eyebrows. He is intelligent and observant, quick to anger, and passionate in his determination to find a solution for Ember’s woes. Both children are curious and imaginative, and their inquiring natures drive the narrative and provide hope for the city of Ember.

Lina was orphaned a few years previously and lives with her Granny and baby sister, Poppy. Granny is suffering from a progressive dementia, and when she too dies, Lina and Poppy are left on their own. Lina is a capable child who has been forced to take on great responsibility at a young age because of her family situation. Even though Mrs. Murdo, a kindly neighbor, takes Lina and Poppy in and is willing to care for the baby, Lina will not relinquish guardianship of her sister and, in the end, insists on taking Poppy with her and Doon when they make their escape from the doomed city. Lina is a doer, and, free in spirit and gifted with athletic ability, she revels in her job as messenger, which allows her to run through the city all day, “going everywhere, seeing everything." Admittedly curious by nature, Lina is unafraid to take initiative and quick to explore places and situations and learn from her explorations; her vivid imagination allows her to envision possibilities far removed from the reality in which she lives. These qualities enable Lina to solve, with Doon, the mystery of the cryptic Instructions hidden in the box in Granny’s closet, and to discover the way out of Ember.

Lina is drawn to Doon because he too is curious and “(pays) attention to things." He cares about what is important and is unafraid to act when he sees a need. When Poppy is lost during the first blackout, it is Doon who, without even knowing who she is, unhesitatingly takes her into his father’s shop so she will not be afraid. He also trades job assignments with Lina because he calculates that he can do more good for the city as a pipeworker than as a messenger. Doon tends to be impulsive and is prone to speak his mind, which, in an authoritarian society such as Ember, gets him into no end of trouble.

Unequivocally honest and unyielding in the pursuit of truth, Doon recognizes the duplicity of the mayor long before he finds actual proof of the man’s depraved character. Once Doon begins to understand the situation, he directs his efforts to...

(The entire section is 1084 words.)