Title: Under the Empyrean Sky, Blightborn, and The Harvest
Author: Chuck Wendig
Series: The Heartland trilogy
You’ve heard me talk about the author Chuck Wendig a few times now. I follow him on Twitter and love reading his blog, Terrible Minds, where he gives funny and honestly blunt advice about writing, among other things. I had gone a long time without reading any of his actual books, which I thought was wrong, so I picked these up. I am very glad that I did.
This is a very dystopian sci-fi tale, which y’all know I’m into. In this world, the rich, or the Empyrean, live in these huge floating cities above the earth. The poor live below in the Heartland, where their main job is to take care of the strain of corn that has taken over the world. You can’t grow much else (the Empyrean forbid it). This corn isn’t even good to eat – they use it for fuel and to turn into building materials.
Our hero is Cael, who is a rough and tumble guy who is just trying to survive, but who becomes very instrumental in fighting the bad guys, almost by accident. This book has a lot of strong characters, but what I liked about them is that they were very complex. Cael is far from perfect. Not all the Heartlanders are good people, even though we’re supposed to be rooting for them to succeed. Likewise, not all the Empyrean are bad, despite being the dominant oppressive class. There are lots of shades of gray, which makes the characters feel much more real.
Another part of the story that was really cool was the introduction of the Blightborn. These are people who are afflicted with what some people think i a disease, where they actually start to become one with the plants of the world. Vines and leaves will grow out of them and they get a rather unique set of powers. I liked how this affliction goes from being something to be terrified of catching (we see very early that some people go completely mad from it), to something that is very destructive, but that can be controlled and used to do some pretty cool stuff.
I would recommend these for someone who likes a good dystopian tale that does NOT revolve around any sort of romance. There are a few romantic relationships, but they are definitely not the focal point. This is a fun adventure with a lot of new ideas that I hadn’t seen before, which is always good. So check them out, and check out Chuck’s blog as well. He’s a pretty funny guy. 🙂