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Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: Empty by Suzanne Weyn ... Thought Provoking And Entertaining! What Would Happen In A World Running Low On Oil?

EmptyEmpty has been one of the most profound and thought-provoking books I've read lately! Yes - it's true... I was enthralled for a few hours by a children's fiction book (Grades 7-10) that explores what will happen when the world runs low on oil.  $80.00+ per gallon of gas when you can even find it, high priced food and necessities... when you can find them, alternate forms of transportation,

Set in the small town of Sage Valley, New York, readers will meet Gwen, Tom, Niki, Brock and Hector, as well as Gwen's brother Luke, some parents, and a few teachers (mainly Mr. Curtin and his wife).  There is a love triangle, and typical teen issues are briefly explored (popularity, image, dating), but it is all resolved quite nicely in the end.  On top of facing issues caused by oil shortages, the teens also survive a super-hurricane and the devastation it leaves behind.

Also interesting are the news articles scattered throughout the book.  The author included news articles that helped readers to see a bigger picture of what was really happening throughout the story in other areas of the world, as well as the politics involved.

The things that really shine in the book are the circumstances and how the characters lives change in order to survive in a new era.  It is ultimately a book about survival...  What choices need to be made in the future to ensure safety and survival?  Days later, I still find myself thinking about what I can do around our house to become more eco-friendly and less dependent on natural gas/utilities (although I think that will be QUITE a challenge!), and I loved the idea/concept of the Whippersnapper III home (fully self-sufficient, sustained living).  I highly recommend this book simply because it will challenge younger and older readers alike to think about the world a little differently.

Note: this is a very easy read as an adult, as it is written for children/teens.

by Suzanne Weyn

Scholastic Press (October 1, 2010) ~ 256  pages
Fiction / Young Adult / Environment

About the Book:
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 Nicki, Tom, and Leila may find what they need to survive. But their lives are never going to be the same again.

About the Author: (from the author's site)
Suzanne Weyn was born in Flushing, New York, and raised on Long Island. She is the oldest of four children. As a girl she was very interested in theater and in reading. Louisa May Alcott was her favorite author. Suzanne lived pretty close to the ocean and going to Jones Beach was one of favorite activities. Even today, if she goes too long without seeing the ocean, she starts feeling restless. In times of stress it is her first destination. She has a big poster of a giant wave in her living room.

Suzanne now lives in upper New York on a former horse farm in a cottage from the 1930s. There are active horse farms all around her and they help inspire her middle grade horse series, Wildwood Stables, which began in March of 2010 and is still going on with new books being added every few months.

Suzanne has written lots of books for kids and young adults. The most recent are The Bar Code Tattoo and its sequel The Bar Code Rebellion. The Bar Code Tattoo was selected by the American Library Assoc. (ALA) as a 05 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and was a ’07 Nevada Library nominee for "Best Young Adult Fiction". It is currently translated into German and was nominated for the 07 Jugenliteraturpreis for Young People’s Literature. Her mystical historic romance, Reincarnation, was published in January 2008 from Scholastic hardcover. In 2009 Distant Waves received a starred review from booklist, calling it "wholly original" and praising its "sweeping action, mysticism, and romance."

Suzanne’s next Scholastic Hardcover, coming in October 2010, Empty, explores the impact of world oil depletion and global warming on the teens in a small, rural community much like the one where she lives.


bermudaonion said...

A good story is a good story no matter what level it's written on. This sounds like it would really make you think.

Julie said...

I have a middle reader bebe boy at home, so I'm always reading MG books; this sounds like one that we SHOULD let our kids read to get them thinking and to maybe change our direction. Thanks for the review!

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