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UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY (The Heartland Trilogy, Book 1)

Author: Chuck Wendig

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Publisher: Skyscape, an Imprint of Amazon Publishing, 2013

Material: Galley

Summary: Corn. There are no other seeds in Boxelder. Just corn and corn pollen, which the Empyrean have engineered and cross-pollinated every which way. Question the Empyrean elite and you disappear. Every time you turn around, the Empyrean Elite are taking something away. People don't have jobs, so they can't get money for food. Cael McAvoy and his buds Rigo and Lane were dreaming of ways to escape this dead-end life and the unending harassment from Boyland Barnes, Jr. (the mayor's son). Who knew a shuck rat would help! Chasing that shuck rat took them to a hidden garden ... a hidden society just past the reach of the Empyrean. When Mayor Barnes finds out what they've discovered, it puts into play a series of events that will change Boxelder forever. Is it really possible for three boys to lay bare the Empyrean Elite for who they are? This is the first book in a young adult dystopian novel with classic characters and events.

Type of Reading: read aloud book, independent reading

Recommended Age: read together: 12 and up; read yourself: 12 and Up

Interest Level: 12 and Up

Reading Level: 6.9

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: Fascinating and frightening, too. The story seems to have a lot of the classic elements of other dystopian novels, but there is a freshness about it, too. Each of the main characters has a back story, and the author does a fabulous job making sure you know more about each one.

Pros: Lots of action, flying cars, and three brave teens make this a great choice for readers who love good v. evil stories.

Cons: None.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is an amazing book. It is must-read for science fiction fans.

If You Liked This Book, Try: GONE   THE UNWANTEDS   PARASITE (Parasitology)

Educational Themes: Some of the critics' reviews emphasize the content about genetically engineered corn. I saw this as a minor piece of the story, but it is something that you could talk about.

If selecting this for a book club, there are plenty of themes of friendship, choices, family, and growing up.

Notes: The Reading Tub picked up an Advance Review Copy (ARC) of this book at BookExpo America 2013. There is no expectation of a review for this book.

Literary Categories: Fiction - science fiction, young adult series

Date(s) Reviewed: March 2014

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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