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).

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