Empty by Suzanne Weyn arrived at my classroom door months ago. Then it sat on my desk. Then I finally picked it up and moved it to my work-home bag. It sat in there for a week or so, then I put it on my nightstand. It sat there for some time too. Eventually, I picked it up when I was bored out of my mind with another book and needed a brain break. I'm glad that I read it- I didn't love it or hate it, I felt a bit 'meh' about it.
I do love the cover though, I was immediately drawn to it when my Scholastic Book Orders rolled through and I was browsing. It makes me wonder why I put off reading it for so long... I guess life sometimes just gets busy.
A dystopic look at what happens to one American town when all the fossil fuels run out... Civilization has just run out.
It's the 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 Sage Valley, decisions that once seemed easy are quickly becoming matters of life and death. There is hope - there has to be hope - but there are also sacrifices that need to be made, and a society that needs to be rethought. Niki, Tom, and Gwen may find what they need to survive. But their lives are never going to be the same again.
Empty is a very quick read with a very obvious theme: use renewable resources. I thought the idea of this book sounded awesome- set 10 years from now, our oil has pretty much run out.. at war and at a loss for what to do, society begins to fall apart. Weyn is quite obvious in her desire to demonstrate what could happen if we continue down the path of oil consumption. Society begins to crumble, emissions have created a global warming disaster (in the form of a super hurricane), and above all- the oil just starts to dry up. The story follows local teenagers (from all different class backgrounds) as they navigate a crumbling society- and eventually try to rebuild.
I thought this was a decent story- I feel a bit middle of the road about it. I certainly didn't fall in love with the story, but by no means did I hate it. I was annoyed at how obvious the "moral" of the story was. While I think it is important to discuss the inevitability of (someday) oil running out, I think that Weyn used that as a scare tactic to get people to seek out renewable resources. I absolutely think non-renewable resources and renewable resources are topics that need to be discussed, I just didn't like the transparent goal of this book. But hey, if it gets my students asking questions and talking about these world problems- I'm cool with that!
I liked the characters that Weyn developed- and she did so quickly. I felt some connection with them and their fight. I was definitely rooting for them as they navigated this new world. Weyn also did a great job demonstrating the ruthlessness of our society- both in government and in local communities.
I would absolutely recommend this for someone looking for a quick dystopian read. It would also be a great choice for teachers & parents to help get the renewable resource discussion rolling. I think this could be a fun extension to an Earth Day lesson as well. Too bad I didn't think of that a few days ago.
write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow