Friday, May 11, 2012

Review: Empty by Suzanne Weyn

Empty by Suzanne Weyn
Published: October 2010
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Available: Amazon

Synopsis:

It's the near future - the very near future - and the fossil fuels are running out. No gas. No oil. Which means no driving. No heat. Supermarkets are empty. Malls have shut down. Life has just become more local than we ever knew it could be. 

Nobody expected the end to come this fast. And in the small town of Spring Valley, decisions that once seemed easy are quickly becoming matters of life and death. There is hope - there has to be hope - just there are also sacrifices that need to be made, and a whole society that needs to be rethought.

Teens like Niki, Tom, and Gwen may find what they need to survive. But their lives are never going to be the same again. 

Review:

I was really excited about this book when I first read the blurb, and I actually did a giveaway for it a while back even before reading the book. That's how optimistic I was. And yes, I judged it on the cover, but I also thought it sounded really interesting. Maybe it's because I've lived through two hurricanes when I was down in Texas, and I know how panicked people become when there's no gas, no electricity, no grocery stores or modern conveniences. I thought Empty would take that type of situation and stretch it beyond a few weeks, take it into a future without any hope of those things coming back.

Sadly, that wasn't the case.

Empty follows three teens, Niki, Tom, and Gwen as they struggle to adjust to their new world, where gas is $40-$100 a gallon. Of the three Gwen was the least annoying. Her mom had bailed on her and her older brother was into black market goods. When she's left without shelter, she doesn't go all pity-party, instead she keeps going, and just happens to completely luck out by finding a self-sustaining house. Tom was okay, but in an economy where gas is that expensive I didn't understand why he would want to spend all of his money in order to drive and see a girl he wasn't even sure liked him back. And what high school kid, from a single parent middle class family has that kind of money? Why was he so worried about gas, when they didn't even have food??! Niki was the worst. She was selfish, annoying, and selfish, and...selfish. She had zero redeeming qualities.

I would guess that Weyn has never lived through a disaster, such as a hurricane, where there is widespread damage, where there is no gas for even a week, where grocery stores have no electricity. She had her students whining about how boring school was because they couldn't use tablets. When my students came back to school and there was no electricity, they were grateful, because it was better than being inside their flooded, tree covered homes. I'm going to stop myself, because I could go on about-I'm stopping! But this possible lack of understanding is exactly why Weyn probably added in a super hurricane. Stronger than even a cat 5. ARGH! I'm stopping!

The book was not horrible. It was written well, and was an extremely fast read. I think I was down within a couple of hours. It obviously has a clear and strong environmental, conservationist message. If you don't mind being lectured on how much better it is to use alternative energy sources then you'll probably love this. If you're like me and want something that shows the hardships of life without everything we know and rely on then skip it.


 

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