I am not lost…

April 2, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY by Chuck Wendig

This is book one of the Heartland trilogy.

I’ve finally obtained, and read, a book one of a Chuck Wendig series.

yesssssssssss

But in all seriousness, my ongoing battle with Barnes & Noble, Chuck Wendig, and my propensity for obtaining book threes in trilogies has been the topic of some discussion on both here and my Twitter for a while now. I’ve spoken to Chuck about it. We’ve discussed ways of getting me books, to the point where he had my address for a while so we could location triangulate or some such. (I assume that’s what it was, at least. Chuck, please don’t come kill me.)

I finally found some good copies of the first two books for the Heartland trilogy, as well as the Miriam Black books, so look forward to way too much Wendig on my blog. So it’s with great joy that I finally get to talk about these books.

UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY is everything a book one should be. We meet the characters–we learn who to love and who to hate–we learn the rules of the world. And then everything gets thrown on its head. (Of course.) We grow attached to Cael, Lane, Rigo, and Gwennie; we know well enough that Boyland and his crew are junk. We hear about the sentient(?) and ill-mannered “corn” crop that now owns the land: Hiram’s Golden Prolific. Not to mention the flotillas above, where the rich and prosperous live and send naught but refuse down to the people below.

And then comes Obligation Day – the day on which all eligible young adults are sworn to their partners. Then the food, the dust storm, Cael’s mother. A thousand little events that I don’t want to give away for fear of taking away any moment of wonder as this all unfolds. Slowly but surely, Cael realizes how much more there is to the world–and to the people he knows–than he could have ever imagined.

Even the book jacket itself is vague, and for once I’m glad of it. There’s just enough to pull you in, and then (like Cael) we start to find the layers of the world for ourselves.

And then the end of the book comes, and you are hanging off one hell of a cliff. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so happy to know that I owned the whole series, because there was NO way I could leave Cael where he was at the end of the book. Some may complain that most of the twists and turns are predictable–and I won’t argue that fact. What makes that worth it for me is that even when I know it’s going to happen, I still want to see the characters get there, and find out how they react.

It’s entertaining seeing Wendig’s writing from either side of the published page, because it’s both so very similar and not in the slightest the same. Chuck makes no apologies for his language; his blog is publicly noted as Not Safe for Work, and probably Not Safe for Life. He knows how to use the language though, profane or not, and he’s hysterical as often as he is helpful. And while you see the flavor of the humor come through in Cael and his friends, I never had any trouble keeping the voices separate in my head. This is not always the case, I’ve found, much to my dismay.

So I can safely give this one of my highest compliments: I’m attempting to ration myself and read a different book in-between each of the Heartland books. …and it’s proving very difficult. Bravo, Mr. Wendig.

Rating: **** (Recommended)

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