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For generations, the people of the City of Ember have flourished in an amazing world of glittering lights--underground. Built as a refuge for humanity and powered by a massive generator, this City will only sustain for 200 years. Now Ember is falling into darkness as the generator fails. Despite growing concern for the future of their beloved City, Ember's students find themselves confronting the next step in their lives. A rite of passage for all graduates, it is Assignment Day, the day on which the Mayor himself will stand before the graduating students as they choose, by lottery, how they will spend their lives working for their society. Lina, praying with all her might to be a messenger, is devastated to be assigned to the Pipeworks, the vast network of pipes underneath the City. Her classmate, Doon Harrow, who wants more than nothing else to work in the Generator, panics when he pulls the messenger assignment.