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Empty by [Weyn, Suzanne]
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3.1 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Length: 196 pages Word Wise: Enabled Age Level: 12 - 18
Grade Level: 7 - 12

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7–10—Everyone knows that we will eventually run out of oil. Weyn takes readers 10 years into the future to the small New York town of Sage Valley to show just how that might feel. Gwen, Tom, Carlos, Niki, Brock, Hector, and Luke have the same problems as many typical teens. Outsiders Gwen and Luke have never known their father and now their mother has gone missing. Rich cheerleader Niki is trying to choose between two guys. In their world, though, gas is 40 dollars a gallon and rising. America has invaded Venezuela, the last country on Earth thought to have oil reserves. Food and medicine are scarce, the economy is a shambles, electricity can't be counted on, and now Hurricanes Oscar and Pearl have combined to form a superhurricane that is headed up the East Coast. Weyn's future has a grimly plausible feeling to it that will draw in readers. She does resort to a deus ex machina to save the day, and the characters and situations aren't fully fleshed out. Still, this should be of interest to those who appreciated Saci Lloyd's Carbon Diaries 2015 (2009) and Carbon Diaries 2017 (2010, both Holiday House) and any teens who wonder just what the world that they will inherit might look like.—Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI
(c) Copyright 2011.  Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

In a not-so-distant future, the U.S. is at war with Venezuela over dwindling oil reserves, and global warming has created a super-hurricane causing destruction up and down the East Coast. In the gloom that is the end of the world, several teens are trying their best simply to survive. Gasoline is scarce, electricity comes and goes, and there is very little food to be had in the wake of the storm. Gwen, abandoned by her mother years ago, is trying to evade authorities looking for her brother, who was selling black-market gasoline; rich-girl Niki, whose father lost his job, has never had to face adversity in her life; and Tom, an all-around hero who lost his father to an illness, complete the love triangle. Though the characters and dialogue are sometimes routine, the realistic and thought-provoking scenario is packaged into a speedy read, and given the popularity of dystopian fiction, it should find an audience. Grades 5-8. --Shauna Yusko

Product Details

  • File Size: 259 KB
  • Print Length: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press (October 1, 2010)
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2010
  • Sold by: Scholastic Trade Publisher
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004D39KQA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,605 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I tried twice to read this book, and each time I made it a little further. I got about halfway before giving up entirely. So, why did I give up? Well, no disrespect toward the author, but honestly? The book reads like a cross between a sermon and a textbook, with the occasional bit of dialogue thrown in so it could technically be called a novel. I'm not kidding, characters will walk up and out of the blue just start lecturing on how everyday products are manufactured using petroleum, and how with the oil reserves depleted, you can no longer buy cosmetics, or batteries, or hairbrushes, and you can't run your heaters or bathe anymore, and, oh my gosh, no one ever saw it coming! Or someone will start talking about solar generators or wind power, and again, it literally sounds as if they're reciting from a textbook.

I'm nearly halfway into the book, and nothing has happened. A few teenagers are crushing on each other and everyone is grumbling about gas costing $80 a gallon, and how they must walk to school, and the girls can't wash their hair or wear their contact lenses, and the cafeteria is closed because they can't afford to power the refrigerators. There's no one saying, "Hey! Let's start building a windmill in the backyard!" There's no one DOING anything about the problem. They just stand around and mope or whine or get drunk. By this point in the novel, I would expect SOMETHING to have happened. I get that there's no oil left, I understand the people are suffering without their iPhones and their blow-dryers. I get it. But how many chapters do we need of these teenagers grumbling about it? Plus, there are so many different teenage characters that I can't keep them straight.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Empty / 978-0-545-17278-3

I'm a greenie in good standing - I know the difference between "recycled content" and "post-consumer recycled content", I avoid petroleum based products as much as possible, and I drive as little as possible. Even if I hadn't been interested in doing these things for my own health and the health of the planet, it's been good sense to wean off of petroleum products ever since the market started demonstrating just how volatile it really is. So I'm all in favor of a good dystopia novel that can drive home just how dependent America is on oil and how dangerous that dependency can be, but "Empty" by Suzanne Weyn is NOT that novel.

The writing in this novel is atrocious - major plot points are "summarized" at the ends of each chapter with newspaper articles that sound fake, unrealistic, and rushed - as if the author couldn't be bothered to edit them properly before going to print. The entirety of the novel is told from the point of view of several teenage "everymen" characters - all of whom sound identically bland - and the "action" of the novel unfolds by having supporting characters literally walk up to them on the street and lecture them about how dependent we are on gasoline and why the world is rapidly going to heck in a handbasket. The cardinal rule of writing - "Show, don't tell" - is broken on every single page of this novel; for instance, in order to demonstrate how the hot water in our pipes relies on gasoline to heat it, we do NOT see a character wash her hair and get a nasty surprise when the water is ice cold. No, instead we have a character *announce* that she's going to wash her hair so that another character can TELL her that the plan won't work, and why not. This is boring, unimaginative, and reads like a badly-written religious tract.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had high hopes when I picked up this book. The plot/scenario sounded interesting - no matter what side of the "green" debate one stands on, I don't think anyone can deny that oil *will* run out some day, whether it's in the near future or a few generations from now - and I've grown used to young adult books dealing with dystopian, apocalyptic or just plain disaster plots in an intelligent and decently written way.

So, yes, "Empty" held a lot of promise for me. Unfortunately what it turned out to be was a book that read like a lecture aimed at ten-year-olds (or perhaps eight-year-olds), certainly not young adults - although the half-hearted attempt at romance and characters in their later teens seemed to indicate otherwise. The language and narrative style were so simplistic it was hard to get truly interested and the lecturing, the "message" came through so hard and clear that it occasionally nearly turned me off (and I'm by and large a supporter of the ideas being promoted here).

That's not to say the book was *all* bad - it was a quick and at times not completely dull read, and the characters, while not exactly engaging or with a huge amount of personality, weren't off-putting. Might be a decent read for a child / pre-teen who is interested in saving the planet and life without oil, I suppose.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We really have no idea how much we rely on fossil fuels in this world. When I think of a gas shortage, I think of having to cut down on driving, but really had never thought of just how many products are petroleum based, from toothpaste to ball point pens. Our reliance on fossil fuels is terrifying, and Empty by Suzanne Weyn shows just how quickly everything can fall apart.

Sage Valley is your average town full of middle class folks who work hard every day and live their lives as though nothing in the world will ever drastically change. When a global-wide oil shortage begins, however, they are in for a rude awakening. Suddenly kids are biking to school. Sports teams stop because they can't drive to the opposing schools. Gas costs $40, $60, then $90 dollars per gallon. People can't heat their homes. Medicines are in short supply. Food deliveries stop. Very quickly, people start to get desperate.

Tom is your average second-string football player who only worries about his crush, head cheerleader Nicki. When the gas shortage begins, his biggest concern is not being able to drive her home. Nicki's biggest concern is having to wear her glasses because there haven't been any deliveries of her contacts to the pharmacy in a long time. Gwen has gone from the outcast to the only kid who has a warm house thanks to her brother's black market dealings. As if the gas shortage wasn't the worst problem, the climate change is finally about to get the better of them. Two enormous hurricanes from the gulf coast and the East Coast merge and make their way up the East to practically destroy everything in their "superhurricane" path. Disaster relief is virtually nonexistent in the current times, and Sage Valley is left to survive by its own devices.
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