Monday, December 6, 2010


I loved Susan Beth Pfeffer's Moon books and was on the lookout for more of that type - survival in the "new" world when things have gone wrong.  I came across Empty by Suzanne Weyn.  Empty tells the story of three kids in a small town and how they deal with life once the United States basically runs out of gasoline.  It alternates chapters that focus on the three characters:  Tom, Nikki, and Gwen.  Each kid is very different but they all end up in the same boat when the problems start getting bad.

Here's what I did like about the book:  it makes you think.  We are so very dependent on all kinds of products that involve oil.  The book does a good job of showing readers just how much would be affected by running out of oil and by continuing to make the choices that we are making in regards to oil use.

But I just didn't really care about these characters.  I felt like they were just there to say stuff about what kinds of choices we should have made to not be in this no-gas situation.  They were flat for me.  Plus, the book was just overly didactic, which I just didn't love.  I felt that w/ the moon books (Life As We Knew It, the dead and the gone, and This World We Live In), you learned about the consequences but you cared about the characters, too.  This book just seemed a little to overt in its message to make me care about it as a good work of fiction.  Also, some things were just "oh so perfect" for the people in this little town.  For example:

"Guess who we met on the way over here--Mr. Curtin!" Tom said.  "And listen to this:  His wife is an environmental engineer, and as soon as we have power again, she's going to start giving workshops to people in Sage Valley on alternative fuels and all sorts of stuff like solar and wind power.  She's written up a grant to try to make the town a model of energy self-sufficiency.  Is that cool, or what?" (p. 155)

See - it's just too perfect.  While the book will definitely make you think about what might happen if we really were to run out of oil - maybe the pessimist in me (and I'm usually not like this) thinks that the "happy-ish" ending just is too perfect.  I preferred the way the moon books ended or The Road's ending - if it's the end of the world - let's face it - it's probably not going to be that pretty.

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