Fear the Corn.
Corn is king in the Heartland, and Cael McAvoy has had enough of it. It's the only crop the Empyrean government allows the people of the Heartland to grow—and the genetically modified strain is so aggressive that it takes everything the Heartlanders have just to control it. As captain of the Big Sky Scavengers, Cael and his crew sail their rickety ship over the corn day after day, scavenging for valuables. But Cael's tired of surviving life on the ground while the Empyrean elite drift by above in their extravagant sky flotillas. He's sick of the mayor's son besting Cael's crew in the scavenging game. And he's worried about losing Gwennie—his first mate and the love of his life—forever when their government-chosen spouses are revealed. But most of all, Cael is angry—angry that their lot in life will never get better and that his father doesn't seem upset about any of it. When Cael and his crew discover a secret, illegal garden, he knows it’s time to make his own luck...even if it means bringing down the wrath of the Empyrean elite and changing life in the Heartland forever.
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Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter, and game designer. He is the author of the novels Blackbirds, Mockingbird, Double Dead, Bait Dog, Dinocalypse Now, and The Blue Blazes. He is cowriter of the short film Pandemic, the feature film HiM, and the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. Chuck lives in Pennsylvania with his family. He blogs at www.terribleminds.com.Review:
“Wendig brilliantly tackles the big stuff—class, economics, identity, love, and social change—in a fast-paced tale that never once loses its grip on pure storytelling excitement. Well-played, Wendig. Well-played.” —Libba Bray, author of the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, Going Bovine, and The Diviners
“Under the Empyrean Sky is like a super-charged, genetically modified hybrid of The Grapes of Wrath and Star Wars. Wendig delivers a thrilling, fast-paced adventure set in a future agri-dystopia. Fascinating world building, engaging and deep characters, smooth, electric prose.” —John Hornor Jacobs, author of The Twelve-Fingered Boy
“A lunatic, gene-spliced, biofueled thriller. Wendig’s story flies faster and slicker than his teen crews’ hover racers. Fear the corn.” —Tom Pollock, author of The City’s Son
“Under the Empyrean Sky is an imaginative, page-turning adventure that will delight science fiction fans and have them impatiently waiting for the next installment.” —Joelle Charbonneau, author of The Testing
In the Heartland, corn is both king and conqueror. It shackles the people to the land and allows the rich to live decadent, worry-free lives atop floating islands in the sky. Seventeen-year-old Cael McAvoy is determined to break free from a dead-end future, and when he discovers rogue vegetables growing among the cornfields, he knows he has found his ticket to the good life. But when his beloved Gwennie becomes betrothed to his uber-nemesis, Boyland, and he uncovers a secret about his father, he knows the time has come to quit living by the Empyrean’s rules and to forge an unknown future.
Wendig is the kind of writer who makes other writers jealous and turns readers into salivating fanatics. Yeah, he is that good. Not only does he take a weird, dystopian premise and make it work, he does so with panache. His descriptions are spot-on, using language that evokes the hardscrabble, Midwestern setting of the novel. Clever plot devices and characters you just want to throw a frying pan at round out the fun. Young readers will identify with Cael and his desire to break away from his oppressive life and carve out a better future, and fans of Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series will savor the strange setting and tragic romance. This is definitely one to add to stock of young adult dystopias. The only drawback to this little gem is that readers will be left waiting for the second book in the series to come out.—Cheryl Clark, VOYA
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