Review: Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig

July 23, 2013 4 stars, Book Review 17 ★★★★

Pabkins’ One Liner: Corn that will cut you, fills the farmland full of nothing to eat!

Under the Empyrean Sky

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, trying to earn much-needed ace notes for their families. 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. Cael’s ready to make his own luck . . . even if it means bringing down the wrath of the Empyrean elite and changing life in the Heartland forever.


Under the Empyrean Sky is categorized as ‘young adult’ which it most certainly is, but I know many would likely consider this ‘new adult’ as well because of the content.  It does have realistic teen situations – now what does that mean folks? Well swearing, a sex scene and some underage drinking of course! I’m not saying all teens do those things, I’m just saying you can’t say that it doesn’t happen. And personally there are only so many times you can read the ‘edited for content’ type YA books that are out there that acts as if all teens have halos.

It’s one of those “coming of age” stories, you know the ones, where the lead character is a arrogant, snooty kid that you just want to constantly smack upside the head? Cael is one of those! I didn’t think I could like this guy any less but each page he just wormed himself a little bit deeper into that ‘characters that annoy the piss out of me’ camp. But you do see him have some big realizations throughout and you can tell that he’s going to grow into a better person. Thankfully I was really rooting for him and his buddies regardless because everyone loves an underdog and I like to spit in The Man’s eye.  There were also some good supporting characters that I’m really curious to learn more about.

It has all the elements that are typical to Chuck, its dark and gritty, with gore and sadness aplenty! Oh and not to mention swearing. But here it’s done in a most creative way – you’ll hear words like “piss-blizzard.” Can you believe its a corn pollen wind storm?…think sand storm but with yellow pollen…yeah the name so fits, and its fun to say! Then there is “jeezum crow” – which is a totally made up swear phrase but I can’t help but think of another naughty phrase when I heard that. I couldn’t stop myself from saying it the rest of the weekend – annoying my husband to no end.

The premise is crazy interesting, I could totally picture this as being some whacked out American future because it takes place in ‘The Heartland.’ All they are allowed to grow is corn, and it’s not even corn they are allowed to eat, because you really can’t eat it! It’s so genetically altered it isn’t even safe to eat! They are a downtrodden lot of folks, these farmers that live beneath the floating islands or ‘flotillas’ – yeah I couldn’t help it I immediately thought tortillas. Get it, corn – tortillas – flotillas –  Haha. OK, yeah so I’m not so funny.  I also couldn’t help comparing Under the Empyrean Sky to the movie Children of the Corn…just without that crazy kid killing adults thing. It is just so out there that you can’t help but get pulled in.

If you are a fan of Chuck Wendig’s adult books I have no doubt that you would also enjoy this, and if you haven’t read any Chuck Wendig yet – well then you should definitely rush out and grab a either Blackbirds of The Blue Blazes!

Under the Empyrean Sky

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• A advanced reader edition of this was provided by the publisher for an honest review. Quotes are from an unpublished edition of this title and are subject to change. All opinions expressed are my own. Please note that this post also contains affiliate links. To view our full Blog Policy, click here.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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17 Responses to “Review: Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig”

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Haha – yes – seems I hit two books with that style of character growth pretty much back to back! Blackbirds was so amazing I hope you read it soon!

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      I totally like a bit of sadness in my books. Sometimes I think there is way too many fluffy rainbows in other fiction that I sometimes run across. I don’t know ….I wouldn’t compare him to King – only because I’m not a big King fan. Do you live in the US? If you’re really interested in reading it I could send you my ARC.

  1. fishgirl182 @ nite lite

    i didn’t know that chuck wendig was coming out with a ya novel. it sounds weird and twisted and i really want to read it. thanks for putting it on my radar.
    fishgirl182 @ nite lite recently posted…Summer of YAMy Profile

  2. Aylee

    I will admit that I am not terribly familiar with Chuck Wendig’s work… but I probably should be by the sounds of it! Heh, I love when authors invent swearwords and “jeezum crow” has got tot be the most original I’ve heard. I think I would like this book! I usually really like characters like Cael, actually. Ones that have a full character arc and end up different and better people from where they started. You’ve definitely aroused my curiosity with this review – great job!
    Aylee recently posted…Review: The Bone Season by Samantha ShannonMy Profile

    • Tabitha the Pabkins

      Thanks Aylee! Well if you like that kind of character arc then you will definitely like this one because man I wanted to punch this kid in the face! I suspect I’ll love him by the end of the trilogy though haha. Do you live in the US?