It’s ten years from now and the United States is running out of gas and oil. It costs too much to make most products, and shipping food and other items is expensive, so the stores are quickly going empty, while the black market is going strong. Few people can afford to drive or fly anywhere. What little oil is left is being diverted to the military troops in Venezuela fighting a war for more non-renewable resources, though other countries are running dry as well. Teens like Gwen, Tom, Niki, and Luke are facing a world unlike anything they have ever known before. If people are going to survive, they are going to have to start making some compromises.
Empty is a frighteningly plausible science fiction novel. It serves as a grim reminder that we’re quickly headed on a path toward depletion of our natural resources due to overconsumption. It may not be ten years from now, but it seems an inevitability that at the rate we’re using oil, it won’t last forever. As the teens in this book come to realize, we need to be working on developing more renewable energy sources. This is an informative read, but I also found it to be an entertaining one. Environmentalism was not its only focus; the plot also explored relationships between friends and family members, as well as some budding romances. Typical high school activities were featured, too, though one turned violent as a result of theft through gas siphoning.
This slim volume didn’t take me long to finish. The narrative prose was intermittently broken up by news articles about the war efforts and other more local developments. These added to the authentic feel of the text. I love when books include “artifacts,” like news articles, quotes from “authoritative” texts, photos, or scrapbook-type items. As far as books exploring social and environmental issues go, Empty is a worthwhile read worthy of a place in the classroom and home.
Quotable Quote from Empty
“The world’s always been about to collapse. But it never does. Isn’t that what social studies is all about?”