Cael McAvoy is sick of life in the Heartland. The Empyrean government forces Heartlanders to grow genetically engineered corn that depletes the soil and kills all other plants. And Heartlanders aren’t allowed to grow anything else: the Empyrean outlawed the farming of other crops and destroyed the seeds. They closed down the schools, keep order through a vicious police force, and eliminate “terrorists” who buck order. Cael wants more than a life dictated by the Empyreans floating among the clouds. He’s angry. At the Empyreans for guaranteeing his life will never get better, and at his father for not being upset by that fact.
After following Chuck Wendig’s blog and Twitter since last September, I decided to check out his fiction. Under the Empyrean Sky seemed too deep into the science fiction genre for my tastes, but the opportunity to read it (and the rest of the Harvest Triology) practically fell into my lap.
The story starts off like a lot of other YA dystopia novels: Cael despises the status-quo and is getting ready for a ceremony where the Empyrean will decide a major part of his life. Sure the setting of the Heartland with the invasive corn set it apart from others, but Cael didn’t strike me as special. He came off as the stereotypical “angry young man.”
But Wendig’s writing kept me reading. I was surprised when an event that’d been foreshadowed came to fruition, even though I’ve spotted the plot device in other books from miles away. Another plot twist I didn’t even see coming. And even though I didn’t really care for the characters, I was on the edge of my seat as the novel ramped up to the climax. I’ll be starting the next book, Blightborn, very soon to find out what happens next.
Under the Empyrean Sky would be great for a reader looking for science fiction/dystopia in a YA novel.
Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig is published by Skyscape and is available as a hardcover, paperback, and as an eBook.
**I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley.com in return for an honest, unbiased review.