Author: Suzanne Weyn
May Contain Spoilers
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.
While I wasn’t enamored with Suzanne Weyn’s writing style, I was fascinated by this book. Examining a very credible threat to the world, and our fuel-consuming nation in particular, Empty tells the story of world without oil. Told through the eyes of a group of high school students, they endure many hardships even before gas stations run dry. There are rolling blackouts, inflation, skyrocketing energy costs. Throw in some family issues, and you have a couple of kids who are going through some very difficult times.
Gwen’s mother ran off, leaving her in the care of her free-wheeling older brother. He resents the burden forced on him, and he and Gwen have an uneasy relationship. Keeping them fed and keeping a roof over their heads has got him undertaking many risks, and he is constantly looking over his shoulder as he buys and sells illegal oil. Gwen’s life is a mess already. Hiding the fact that their mother has disappeared, and that her brother deals in an illegal trade are her biggest concerns.
Niki is a privileged young woman from a wealthy family, and at first, the oil shortages don’t mean much to her. Her father has money and their small waterfront resort town has made arrangements for an oil tanker to keep the gas station’s pumps flowing. I thought Niki was the most compelling character, because she had the most to lose, and it wasn’t easy for her to adjust to the new reality that was thrust on her.
Tom is the young man with an impossible crush on Niki. She is far out of his league, but he continues to try to woo her after she breaks up with football star Brock. I found Tom the least interesting character, because nothing got him too worked up. War in South America? Just an event on the news. No gas? He’ll buy it from Gwen’s brother. He’s a likable character; he’s dependable and honest, and has all of the good qualities you’d want in a boyfriend. He’s just a boring character, and nothing seemed to rattle him.
Empty has so many trials for the protagonists to deal with, and I couldn’t put it down. It’s a short book, less than two hundred pages, but it presents such a thought provoking situation. If we don’t invest in alternate energy sources, this book will be our future. War over dwindling oil reserves, global warming, inflation, shortages of everything. Despite some overly convenient plot devices, Empty is an intriguing and timely read.
Review copy provided by publisher