Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Review + ARC Giveaway: Empty by Suzanne Weyn

Empty is an exploration of what will happen when our planet's oil reserves finally dry up. It's a cautionary tale that seems bent on reminding us just how dependent we all are on oil, electricity, and propane. Not to mention, the fact that we live in houses that are not designed for cataclysmic storms and that our crazy consumption is not practical or good for the planet.

This story centers around the lives of three teens: Niki, Gwen, and Tom. Niki is a bit of a stereotype before her parents cannot afford to sustain their luxurious lifestyle. She is beautiful and a cheerleader. She's not really up to speed about the news or the actual prices of the valuable resources she's consuming. She's focused on getting her old boyfriend, Brock, to notice her again.

One step in getting Brock's attention is to date Tom, a lesser football player, but handsome nonetheless. Tom is not well-off and popular like Brock, but he has potential. Tom is quiet and unassuming but loves the idea of dating a beautiful girl like Niki. When the superhurricane hits, he is left to take care of his mother, who is developing a serious respiratory problem, and to find food for himself and his neighbors. He is not the type of teen who will watch others suffer and stand by idly. But, there is so much to do, so many people who are starving to death.

This is where Gwen comes in. She has been watching Tom for years and has a bit of a secret crush on him. Since her house burned down due to her older brother/ guardian's storage of ill-obtained gasoline in unsafe containers, she's been wandering and looking for safety in the town's mines. This sounds crazy, but she stumbles across a self-sufficient model home. It's a bit of a green dream, complete with solar power, hydroponic food, and a generator that runs itself. Best of all, no one else knows that this haven exists.

The dialogue and the plot of this book are a little stilted at times. But, the message is value and clear: Something needs to happen before this story becomes our reality. I love that the author included news articles in between the chapters. It gives a sense of credulity to the premise of the book. And, lllthe countries that are spoken about in these news stories are real ones that we need to pay attention to now: Venezuela, Russia, and countries in the Middle East.

There is a whole lot to think about when it comes to consumption and habits that we have developed that are harmful to our environment and our future. Many of us understand that we cannot continue to sustain the lifestyle that most of us have grown accustomed to, yet changing our habits as a nation and a globe seems daunting at best.

I am giving away an ARC copy of this book to one commenter. This contest is for followers located in the US only, though I wish that I could open it up to the world. To enter, simply leave a comment that includes the answer to this question:

What is one effort that you're making to help the environment and/or reduce consumption?

Please include an email with your answer. Giveaway closes on December 8th, 2010 at midnight (EST).

Extra Entries (include in your one comment):
+1 Follower of this blog


  1. I've made a huge effort to go greener in my house. We use nothing but EnergyStar certified appliances. We minimize our usage by turning off lights, using as little water as possible, and keeping the thermostat set on energy efficient settings. We avoid driving as much as possible and walk or ride bikes whenever it's practical. Just those small things can help a ton! Thanks for the giveaway! I'm a GFC follower.


  2. At my house, we stopped using plastic milk cartons and instead use glass. We then send our empty glass cartons to the farm where we get our milk and they rinse it out and refill it-recycling! I'm a GFC follower:)

  3. Crazy how possible this is!

    Wow! I really want to read this one. Sounds so good.

    I hate waste. I try to re-use as many things as possible. I have reusable bags for when I go grocery shopping Also, thankfully, I only live a block away from a recycling center drop off, which makes it so easy to recycle my cardboard, magazines, newspapers and plastic jugs. It's great! I don't have kids but every other weekend, my little cousins help me sort out the stuff that needs to by recycled, then we make a trip to the center. They love dropping the items down the shoot. They think it is fun! LOL

    Thanks for the giveaway. Please enter me.

    missie at

  4. We do the same as the above comments and also use as many non disposable dishes when packing lunches (even my 17 year old boys don't mind taking lunch in a box instead of a sack).

    Love to read this book!
    jacque at
    twinmomx5 at gmail dot com

    I'm a follower!

  5. Enter me please.

    We have started swapping out our light bulbs with the energy efficient ones and have been trying to buy more of the go green products.

  6. Hey - first off, thanks for the review and the contest, much appreciated. This book has been on my radar for a while, and I relish the opportunity to win a copy!

    As to what I do to help out where carbon emissions are concerned, I have a complicated answer:
    (1) Carpool. Living in Michigan it's hard to stay away from cars completely. However, I find that my roommate and I can really save on gas when we carpool with another girl in our building. I am not sure how much this matters, but it's something.

    (2) Public Transit. I use it whenever I can - trains, esp.

    (3) Education. I am a part of the Environmental association, and that means posting about environmental issues and alerts - and I think education is an important conduit to achieve environmental goals.

    I also recycle! :D

    Thanks again!
    apereiraorama @

  7. Wow this sounds like a really good book!

    Instead of driving to school i walk or carpool with some friends. We stop using paper plates and i recycle.

    +1 follower

    jessica b

  8. I've stopped buying bottled waters and have switched to carrying my own bottle with me, so I'm not tempted to buy one when I'm thirsty. It saves money and plastic! I also wash the dishes by hand instead of using the dishwasher. I'm trying to wean myself off of long relaxing hot showers... but it may be a battle that I lose. Also (when it's not winter), I walk anywhere that's within a mile of my house. It's good for the environment and my body!

    Thanks for the chance to win :)
    melodiousrevelry (at) gmail (dot) com

  9. My husband and I walk almost everywhere and only drive once a week or so in a regular week. We also use reusable shopping bags and bring our own containers to our coop to fill instead of taking plastic bags. We used to compost, but we had to move and now no longer have the space to do it!

    I'm a GFC follower... erinreadsblog {at} gmail {dot} com.

    Thanks :-)

  10. I'm DYING to read this...

    I am a vegetarian, I recycle, I took Environmental Science for fun and Derrick Jensen's book A Language Older Than Words changed my life. I care PASSIONATELY for this planet and have raised my kids to respect her as well =)

  11. This book looks amazing! I've got the water conserve attachment on my shower. Plus one of the new toilets that use less water. Energy efficient appliances and light bulbs.
    Great giveaway and question!

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  12. I live in a pretty small town, so I try to walk everywhere I can, instead of driving (although now that there is over a foot of snow outside, and when it isn't snowing the temp hovers around 1 degree, I'll def. be driving more)

    I also try to use eco friendly cleaning products in my home as much as possible. I've been looking forward to this book!!

  13. we drive a lot less than we used to. I love the idea of joining the ecological warning message with a novel; sometimes people won't read a nonfiction "we are headed for disaster" book but they might heed warning through a story of characters.
    jhbalvin at gmail dot com

  14. I walk whenever I can. If we do have to go out, we make multiple stops so we're not constantly hopping in the car and driving somewhere.

    I also use a pellet stove more often than central heating. Saves on oil heating and burns longer and hotter than oil by using wood pellets.

    Great giveaway! Thanks for the opportunity! (Hugs)Indigo

  15. Wow, this sounds like an interesting book! (And very plausible for our future).

    What do I do? I recycle. A lot. I also re-use items as much as I can (water bottles, shopping bags, etc). We use a lot of eco-friendly products, including our energy efficient light bulbs. In fact, I myself use candles instead of a lamp now.

    Instead of driving to school (I live 10 mins away from it), I'll bike to school, unless it's raining. I walk wherever I can - I live in a relatively big city, so it's easy to go grocery shopping on foot.

    I've cut down my shower time to 5-10 minute showers. We try to reduce electricity usage as much as possible - me with my candles, the rest of my family with keeping lights off. We don't use air conditioning or heating.

    +1 I am a follower of this blog via gfc. :)


  16. I walk back from school every day instead of driving there. I recycle old newspaper. I use eco-friendly products.

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  17. I'm a follower.

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  18. Unfortunately, our area doesn't have a lot of recycling options, but our school has started a recycling program and I've helped with that. :)

    +1 I'm a follower (oreo_93)


  19. I Use Fluorescent Lighting, Recycle, Precycle--make an effort to buy products with recyclable packaging, reuse whatever I can, and shop for durable, long-lasting products.

    +1 Follower

  20. Thanks for the giveaway. :)
    One thing I do to help the environment is at work we recycle all the newspapers and a lot of the paper that gets printed on.


  21. Well lets start with the that we recycle. Also we try and reuse anything and everything if we can. I do alot of gardening and in turn I can and save seeds so that helps in not buying containers and such at the store.

    I follow you publicly via GFC-DanelleJohnson

    danellejohns at gmail dot com

  22. I have started using more natural cleaning products that are less harmful to the environment.

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. I'm a follower.

    I bring my own bags when I buy groceries, and only buy meat that is free range.


  25. We recycle and use energy efficient appliances. Thanks for the great giveaway :)

    mrsjohnson1982 at yahoo dot com

  26. I follow with GFC.
    Username: missreneer :)

    mrsjohnson1982 at yahoo dot com

  27. I'm a follower =)

    The best way that I contribute to the betterment of our environment is recycling. My university is big on recycling, thus, I don't keep the objects that can be recycled and sell them.


  28. We try are best to run all our errands at once, so we aren't wasting gas, and we've currently downsized to one car, which helps us save on gas, because we aren't both out driving at the same time.

    jlynettes @ hotmail . com

  29. My mom and I use reusable grocery/shopping bags as well as energy efficent light bulbs. We also do not own a car, not exactly a choice we made but it still counts. When it is cooler outside, instead of running the air we just open the front and back door. We also buy meat from a local, family owned market that gets their products from REAL farms and free range animals.

    Thanks for the great giveaway! Really been wanting to read this one.

    +1 Old follower


  30. Oh and we recylce mailing envelopes. If it is still in whole, good condition, we reuse it to mail whatever we need to mail. We literally never have to buy package evenvelopes.

  31. I try to follow the Reduce/Reuse/Recycle mantra, but we all know it can be hard. But I do make a conscious effort to buy local more often than not, especially when it comes to produce; I never throw away anything that can be recycled (ya know, pop bottles, newspapers, etc), and I recently went through all of my clothes and cleared out a lot, and donated the ones I didn't want to one of those clothing collection bins that uses them around the world.
    And I suppose the fact that I don't drive, but walk everywhere when possible is a big one...

    Misty, GFC follower



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