Under the Empyrean Sky

Chuck Wendig. Amazon/Skyscape, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4778-1720-9
Adult author Wendig (The Blue Blazes) launches the dystopian Heartland trilogy featuring a group of teenage scavengers at odds with an oppressive government that dwells in luxury up in the sky. Cael McAvoy, leader of the Big Sky Scavengers, is dealt a severe setback when a rival crew led by the mayor's son sabotages his land-boat, which he needs to safely navigate the hostile fields of genetically modified corn that hold the Heartland in a stranglehold. When he discovers a secret garden of illegal fruits and vegetables, he sees a chance to get ahead by harvesting and selling them. Instead, he and his friends are drawn into a bloody fight for survival, which turns into open rebellion. Wendig conjures up an atmospheric and brutal world full of pollen storms, aggressive plants, and terrifying tumors, and populates it with memorable characters, while withholding enough information about the Empyreans to maintain intrigue. This strong first installment rises above the usual dystopian fare thanks to Wendig's knack for disturbing imagery and scorching prose. Ages 12-up. Agent: Stacia Decker, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (July)
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013
Release date: 07/01/2013
Genre: Children's
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