Due to catastrophic global warming and poor management of natural resources, ocean levels have risen extremely high, putting all previous coastal cities and towns underwater, the worst storms seen in the history of Earth crash against the coast, and the world is out of its precious oil. Now, the division between the rich and poor is huge, and for Nailer, this means a life of hard work with little chance of escaping poverty. Nailer is a member of a Light Crew, a group of small kids that clambers around the duct work of old, beached ships, looking for copper wiring or other precious metals that can be sold to make new, environmentally friendly ships called Clippers. One day, the duct Nailer was crawling in breaks, dropping him into a pool of oil. When another of his crew comes looking, she is content to let him drown, hoping that she will be able to smuggle the oil out later, a risky process that can make you very rich. Luckily, Nailer finds a door under the oil and manages to escape this horrible death. That night, the worst storm Nailer has ever seen ravages the beach, causing him and his friend, Pima, to take shelter in a cave for three long days. When the storm is gone, the beach has been totally destroyed, and they are out of work for a few days. With nothing to do, the pair go and explore an island one day, and to their surprise they find a Clipper bashed up against the rocks! The two start taking everything they can carry with the hopes of becoming rich, but when they find a living girl inside that says she can offer them a reward for her safe return to her parents, Nailer and Pima have a difficult decision to make.
Read the first chapter here!
This story did a lot of what I wanted Empty to do with the catastrophe that would most likely ensue if the world ran out of oil. The way that the poor are treated and the limited options they have show that it really is a crisis that nobody prepared for. There seems to be no government, only rich companies that control the people by buying, or refusing to buy, their goods. Also, the whole psychological element with everyone, even the kids, being willing to kill each other to gain a few more dollars. Another interesting element was the genetic engineering of the Half-men. Even though many people would be willing to take jobs, they create people that are genetically altered to be faster, stronger, and more loyal to do work for the elite. From what I got from the book, there was a lot of weird biological practices going on, showing that not all technology has disappeared. The futuristic society portrayed in this book is very complicated, and quite frankly very scary, seeing that it is possible that we could end up this way. The overall society is what really impressed me with the book, but it also had a very strong storyline and the characters were very believable. One of my favorite characters was probably Tooth, just because his existence itself is interesting, as well as the fact that he, unlike the rest of his kind, has no master.
Questions for Thought:
1. Were you Nailer and had fallen into the oil, would you have tried to still smuggle some out once you found the door?
2. How do you think Tooth came to have no master?
3. Would you have killed Nita immediately and smuggled as much of the scavenge away as possible to sell later?
4. Do you think that Nailer will get his reward or a job on the Clipper? Or will he just be left on his beach now that Nita has been returned?
Please leave your comments and answers!
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