Empty Book Review

Empty by Suzanne Weyn

The oil is running out faster than anyone expected and Tom, Nikki, and Gwen are stuck right in the middle of a change that may be the end of the world as they know it. Food shortages are on the rise, gas syphoning, and violence are becoming more and more prevalent, but all these teens want is a little normalcy. Tom wants Nikki, rich cheerleader, but Gwen is mysterious in a way that Tom finds attractive. Nikki's whole world is changing, and not for the better and she struggles with keeping a normal life and still looking good despite having to wear glasses. Gwen's mother left her and her brother years ago and they have managed just fine on their own until a freak fire and a super hurricane crash her world.

The premise of the story is great and fun to think about although not terribly original. (see Crunch review) Unlike Crunch, this book often felt preachy, with large amounts of info dumps in the first half of the book. Long conversations about manufacturing and the oil being depleted and a long list of products that are no longer available because of the oil shortage. Of course, as if this wasn't enough of a sermon, the author added a super hurricane created by global warming. Just in case you didn't get that the earth is going to be destroyed. One of the things I loved about Crunch was that it didn't matter why they had run out of gas, the point was that it was gone and people had to move on with their lives.

This is mostly a story about running out of gas with naive characters complaining about the gas costing $40 a gallon, having to wear glasses, and dumb crushes as a giant hurricane is hurtling towards them and they are running out of food. What I couldn't understand was that not a single person ever hopped on a bicycle until the very end. Everyone is still driving around with the gas prices at $40 a gallon or more. Are you kidding me? Not a single person saw this coming and built a windmill or have solar power or grow things in a garden? I can tell you, as an avid bicyclist, I already think gas prices are too high and know for a fact that people are already beginning to plant gardens and live more green. I do not think that people would allow gas prices to reach $40 a gallon and not do a single thing about it. At the very least, wouldn't people begin to hoard food?

On a writing level, I am afraid that all of the characters except for rich spoiled Nikki, sounded exactly alike. Without dialogue tags I would never know how was speaking. The constant grumbling about phones now working and lack of warm showers got old. There was never a character who tried to bring things into perspective. No character who though...hmm...maybe I should build a fire to make food. The news articles littered throughout the novel were written with the same voice as the rest of the book, making them feel less than credible and entirely like more info dumps.

The author is right about one thing. This is an issue that should be brought to people's attention, but I would hope that we and our government would not be as idiotic as the people in this book. I can promise you this...if the gas prices ever reached that point, I am sure more people would be riding public transit, bikes, and subways, because it is already happening. There would be incentives for building windmills and solar powered homes. Personal gardens would become the norm and the teens would have to go on with their lives and would not be bellyaching over cell phones not charging because we would have products like this. Humans are amazing creatures who can surely find other ways to survive and create electricity without oil...oh wait, we already are doing that.