A chilling post-apocalyptic adventure set on an Earth devastated by poor agricultural practices.
For teenager Cael, a good day might be killing a shuck rat for dinner and sailing a land-boat above ultraengineered cornfields to scavenge parts from a wrecked motorvator. A bad day is watching the girl you love become Obligated to your archrival. Welcome to the Empyrean world, where the haves hover above ruined Earth in luxurious flotillas and the have-nots toil below in the Heartland, told whom to marry and what to grow—those “endless…everything” fields of corn that threaten to swallow towns and must be beaten back with “Queeny’s Quietdown,” an ominous herbicide. It’s all just “[l]ife in the Heartland,” resigned citizens say of violent “piss-blizzard” pollen storms, stillborn babies and the tumors that grow like strange fruit on their bodies. When Cael and his friends discover a trail of precious, prohibited vegetables growing deep in the corn, they stumble on a secret that may save them—or get them killed. Wendig offers vivid glimpses of authentic teen emotion and snappy, profanity-laced dialogue set in a grim-yet-plausible wrecked world. With last pages that offer more late-breaking revelation than resolution, this story’s dangling threads will no doubt entice readers to reach for the next book in the Heartland Trilogy.
A thoroughly imagined environmental nightmare with taut pacing and compelling characters that will leave readers eager for more. (Science fiction. 14 & up)