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People have known for years that the oil supply won’t last forever and that it’s getting dangerously close to being gone for good. And now they are starting to feel the effects. A gallon of gas costs $20, which is rising fast. It could soon be $90 a gallon --- that is, if one can even find it. Supplies are getting scarce, especially those items that are made with petroleum or that are shipped from afar, like fresh produce in winter. And then, due to the global changes, a category 6 hurricane hits the East Coast causing death, disaster and chaos.

Gwen Jones is no newcomer to suffering. Her mom split years ago, leaving her and older brother Luke to look after themselves. Somehow they’ve managed to avoid the notice of child services and the police with Luke’s illegal methods of earning money, which lately has been embezzling gasoline. Gwen expresses herself by dressing in the Goth style, though that might work against her as she develops a crush on her neighbor, football player Tom Harris.

Tom is no newcomer to suffering either. His father recently died, leaving him and his mom all alone. He has football to occupy his time, and this year he’ll be on the varsity team. One of his goals is to ask out cheerleader Niki Barton. Niki is a newcomer to suffering, at least as far as material things go; her family is rich, and they even have a second home on the lake. Everyone expects her to appear perfect when it comes to her hair, skin and clothes, and cheerleading is a big part of her life. Up until recently, so was her relationship with the varsity quarterback. 

With the oil gone and the hurricane’s destruction, it seems that the world is ending. And in some ways it is. But life goes on, and those left on earth must find a new way of surviving that doesn’t involve oil. 

In EMPTY, Suzanne Weyn addresses a huge concern on a global scale that will change the life of almost every person on the earth. She brings into focus the everyday changes a life with no oil will bring, such as the loss of hot showers, eye contacts, medicine, driving to the store, emergency assistance and cell phones. Life will go on, but it will have to change. Weyn also addresses some of the weaknesses and strengths of humans in survival situations, like rioting and helping one’s neighbors. Her story is very real, and her characters successfully portray their parts. Suspense and romance keep attentions riveted and the pages turning quickly. Weyn has produced yet another work of fiction that will compel her audience to think about serious issues as they’re being sucked into the riveting plot line.

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on October 18, 2011

by Suzanne Weyn

  • Publication Date: February 1, 2012
  • Genres: Dystopian, Fiction, Young Adult 12+
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0545172799
  • ISBN-13: 9780545172790