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Under the Empyrean Sky (The Heartland Trilogy #1)

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,372 Ratings  ·  322 Reviews
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 a ...more
Hardcover, 354 pages
Published July 30th 2013 by Skyscape (first published January 1st 2013)
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Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Corn is king. The stuff has pretty much taken over in this book (I would go on a foodie rant but I'm restraining myself).
This is not your heritage corn though. This stuff is a Monsanto dream.
Way Pop told it, the Empyrean crossbred the corn with a handful of other plants: kudzu, flytraps, some kind of nightshade. Called it Hiram's Golden Prolific.

Living in the "Heartland" means having to deal with this corn. The life in the Heartland isn't easy either. The corn causes tumors and short life span
Dan Schwent
Mar 27, 2015 Dan Schwent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the Heartland, genetically modified corn has overrun everything and people struggle just to survive. Young Cael McAvoy is the leader of a salvage crew, finding scraps of a bygone age to sell to bring in money for his home town, Boxelder. But when Cael and his crew find some forbidden plants growing wild amongst the corn, things quickly spin out of control...

Chuck Wendig's foray into YA dystopia is an interesting tale. It reminds me of Ship Breaker, to an extent. A genetically modified corn sp
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

I should have immediately wanted to read Under the Empyrean Sky. I mean, it takes place in corn country – a place where I’ve spent my entire life. Need proof? Here’s a picture of some family members in my grandfather-in-law’s backyard:

Chicago commercial photographers

(Please note that due to TROLLS the part of said family members is being played by Mitchell and Momma June of Honey Boo Boo fame. See Trolls, I make the fat jokes before you can. Ha!)

I no longer live in
Frankie Brown
Feb 04, 2014 Frankie Brown rated it liked it
I liked Under the Empyrean Sky -- it entertained me, it was thought-provoking in many places, and it offered a compelling, disturbing view of a future America overrun by mutant corn.

This would have been a solid four-star review, if not for one major problem: the book's treatment of women. This particularly upset me, because as an avid reader of Chuck Wendig's blog, it was my understanding that he's aware of the mistreatment of women in literature.

The chapters told from women's point of view don'
Sh3lly ✨ Bring on the Weird ✨
So here we have a trilogy with evil, mutant corn!

But really the story is about Cael and his family and friends, who are basically no more than slaves and animals to the Empyreans. The Empyreans are the elite controllers who live on flotillas in the sky. The dirty mangy humans live on the ground, where they are expected to farm the mutant corn, which gives them tumors and birth defects.

The corn isn't even edible. It's used to make fuel for the flotillas and as additives. The Empyreans control see
Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig
Published 2013, Skyscape
Review also posted at: Slapdash & Sundry

First, thanks to Netgalley for providing me with the Trilogy for review. Not only do I get to read the whole thing and provide my unbridled opinion on it, but I get to do it for CHUCK books!!! (Check out his Miriam Black series if you want a prime example of awesomeness.) So thanks Netgalley. Other than these review copies, I got nothing in return for my review (well, maybe some satis
Mogsy (MMOGC)
This was an e-ARC I received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I thought it was really fantastic, but honestly, I'm also a little lost as to how to talk about it. To understand, I guess you have to be at least a little familiar with Chuck Wendig and his writing. If you're not, then you're in for a treat...or a shock. Or both.

I only just became a fan of the author myself, having recently read The Blue Blazes and Blackbirds. I liked them a lot, and especially adore
Nov 11, 2015 Tracy rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Under the Empyrean Sky is dystopian sci-fi which transports the reader effortlessly into its world and carries them along in a fast paced story with just about everything you could want.

Within the first two pages, the reader immediately knows what is at stake for the main character, Cael, and gets a good glimpse of the broader political and social constructs of this world – brilliant. (I wish I read more books that did this so quickly and so well.)

Cael McAvoy lives in the Heartland and the only
Kristin  (MyBookishWays Reviews)

Cael McAvoy and his friends live in the Heartland, where corn grows in spades, but Heartland’s people can’t eat it. In fact, some would say the corn is alive. One thing is for sure, it fuels everything that the Empyreans need, in their kingdom in the clouds, while Heartland’s citizens survive on scraps, because the land can’t grow anything else. Cael is, however, captain of the Big Sky Scavengers, and they’re pretty darn good at what they do, even if the m
Jul 21, 2014 Monica rated it really liked it
This review was originally posted on Avid Reviews:

Under the Empyrean Sky is a dystopian novel and the first installment in the Heartland Trilogy. Though the dystopian future has recently become an extremely popular trope, Wendig’s novel stands apart from the rest with a very unique vision of our planet’s future. The story holds an environmental message at its heart, and tackles the issues of genetic modification, the use of pesticides, and the dangers of lett
Aug 10, 2015 Aentee rated it liked it
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley + Skyscape in exchange for an honest review.

I had such a hard time writing this review, as this book fell victim to my dystopia burnout (I thought Red Rising cured me, oops). I really wanted to like this book because i) I like reading the author’s blog and ii) these covers are freaking amazing (yes, judge away!). Alas, I didn’t love or hate it – I felt plain meh.

The setting was my favourite part of this book. Set in a futuristic world where mutant co
Aug 19, 2013 Reader-ramble rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone because I'm totally a Wendig fangirl.
Shelves: must-reads
What did you say? Wendig calls it cornpunk?

(Scratches chin.) I like this. I like this a lot. This is going in a direction I can get behind.

These days, dystopia YA is all the rage. One is born every time someone farts. Only half of them fit the definition of dystopia. (For definition, see my Divergent review.) Most of the ones I read don't make me bat an eye because I'm used to reading ones that have pretty much come true. You know, 1984 as brought to you by the internet, microchips, and the NSA.
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
Review is below the PSA. The PSA does not reflect upon the book which is really quite good.

 photo Goodreads_zpsfd34dfc1.jpg

Just when I thought there would never be a good dystopian again Under the Empyrean Sky comes along. This is a solid book - well written, perfectly paced with real life-or-death consequences. While it doesn't do anything groundbreaking with the genre, everything it does it does very well.

The thing about survival, Pop always says, is that it's not about who's fastest or strongest but who can adapt to chang
May 07, 2015 Bibliotropic rated it really liked it
(Full review here:

If you’re looking for something that isn’t your typical YA SFF novel, then this is a good bet. The writing flows smoothly, the story’s easily to follow and very engaging, with characters that feel real enough that they could easily be people who live down the street from you (assuming their house is filled with aggressive corn…). It’s a set-up to what suspect with end up bigger and more complex as the trilogy goes on, and happily so, be
Nov 30, 2014 Kaleb rated it really liked it
Actual Rating : 4.5
Chuck Wendig never ceases to amaze me with his elegant prose and well drawn characters. The first book of the Heartland trilogy is a tragic tale of love, inequality, and adventure. This book is better than any YA novel I've ever read and has set the bar for all YA novels. My only gripe for the novel is that the main character, Cael, was kind of an asshole throughout most of the book. A likable asshole thought. Despite that, this was an awesome book and I can't wait to get star
Michael Stewart
Jan 04, 2015 Michael Stewart rated it it was amazing
This was fantastic. Second is locked and loaded. Great voice, masterful use of point of view. Wendig's in top form here.
Apr 29, 2016 Ashley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other-world, r2r, sci-fi, meh
Rating: 2/5
(I received a free ecopy from the publisher, Skyscape, via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.)
***Minor spoilers***

In the Heartland, corn is the only crop left. It's taken over everything, and left room for nothing else - or so Cael and his crew thought. Cael's team are scavengers - they go through the corn fields to hopefully pick up some materials to get them some money. One day when they're out there, they see a garden, full of crops that they didn't think existed anymore.
Aug 06, 2013 Phil rated it it was amazing
This is my first YA book, and any fans of Chuck Wendig who might be dubious of picking it up because of the YA tag, stop worrying. The YA tag does not diminish Chuck's style, everything you have come to expect is there. The grim reality, the sharp descriptions, the strong characters that fit and all add to the flow.

This is the first in a trilogy set in a Cornpunk future where the land is covered by an invasive strain of carnivorous corn. The Heartland is a grim and foreboding place, its people m
Emma Rosloff
Dec 03, 2013 Emma Rosloff rated it really liked it
While I’d heard praise for Chuck Wendig’s blog, I hadn’t actually heard much about his book, Under the Empyrean Sky. In fact, it was the cover that drew me in (as superficial as that sounds) as I was browsing through the Young Adult section of the library. Gotta hand it to the artist — it’s a great cover. Really sets the tone. I saw Wendig’s world in all the same colors: yellow, orange and brown.

My favorite thing about this book? The worldbuilding. Wendig paints a vivid picture, creating a world
Aug 05, 2013 Ixris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, I just read this in seven hours.

I wasn't -quite- sure what I was getting into. Chuck Wendig is the guy behind and the jerk who brought us Changeling: The Lost and Hunter: The Vigil (I LOVE YOU CHUCK - BUT WHY). So I'm very familiar with his -not-storytelling- voice, but was slightly leary going into his -totally-storytelling- voice.

What we have here is a YA story about the evils of mucking about too much in bioengineering plants, the class divide, and The Man telling us wha
May 01, 2015 Dann rated it it was amazing
This being my first Chuck Wendig book, I wasn't familiar with his writing style, which some people say takes some getting used to. Even so, the world that he constructed is so engrossing, so interesting, that I couldn't put this book down.

The basis of the story—the haves in the floating cities, the have-nots on the ground—is one that we've seen many timse before, but Wending manages to throw enough imaginative and creative elements into it to make it new and interesting.

Having grown up in the Mi
May 01, 2016 Giovanna rated it did not like it
*I received a copy of this book through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review

Not good. I don't know if it wasn't my cup of tea but...I didn't enjoy a single thing of it. The characters were quite dull and flat, and because of this I wasn't interested in what was happening. There wasn't much world-building either, at least in my opinion.
I don't have much to say really other than that I didn't like it at all.
Liz Neering
Jul 31, 2014 Liz Neering rated it really liked it
Wow. I feel like I just took a master class in pacing. This book grabs you from the opening paragraphs and never lets go. It's intense. The stakes are always high and getting higher. There are consequences even for well-intentioned actions. There are very real struggles here to cheer very real characters through.

There's also swears, violence, mutant corn, class warfare, and hoverboats. So what are you waiting for?
Richard Guion
Aug 09, 2014 Richard Guion rated it really liked it
It's a solid yarn about a group of 18 year olds living in a dystopian world, corn huskers living on the Earth while the rich people living in floating cities. The book really hooked me in the first 1/3 of the story - Cael, Gwennie, and their other friends were interesting kids. In the middle the plot sagged a bit - I almost gave up as I didn't like Cael's actions too much. But the story course corrected and the plot accelerated very quickly after that, it was a real page turner to read until the ...more
Nov 01, 2015 Jason rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2015
2 Stars

I love Chuck Wendig...

I am a huge fan of most of his works. Under the Empyrean Sky is a jump into the over saturated YA genre that I find myself loathing more and more with every read. It is probably due to my hate of all things "Hunger" like that I disliked this book. I found myself skimming much of this read.

I love Chuck Wendi!!!

Just no love for this book.
Maranda  (Athroneofbooks)
Jul 19, 2015 Maranda (Athroneofbooks) rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, 4-stars
4/5 stars
You can find all my reviews here
*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

“That’s life in the Heartland.”

What’s life in the Heartland like? Monster corn that isn’t even safe to eat is the only crop that isn’t outlawed, floating cities above that treat the Heartlanders like slaves, and having your spouse chosen by the Empyrean government even if you’re in love with another. Life in the Heartland seems to be a shitty existence. Of course
All that corn and it's not even edible!!

I did not expect to like this story as much as I did. I enjoyed all the adventures that Cael took his friends into. So we meet Cael who is pretty much the captain of his crew. His first mate is Gwennie whom he also loves. Under the empyrean sky is so apt a title.. The poor people live under the rich. The rich live in the sky on fotillas the government is called empyrean, it's prob the same. Anyways Cael is tired of being poor and soon him and his friends
Hope Sloper
The story is slow to start, but once it hits its mark, it very steady after that. It was, at times, a super fun read and again the world inside Under the Empyrean Sky is really creative and imaginative. I’m sure every other review out there talk about the corn in this story, and it was really impressive (a major character itself), but foreshadows so many other really cool things this world has to offer. I loved the world, in truth, and I admire the execution of the author’s wordology. I would ha ...more
Mar 03, 2014 Pallav rated it it was amazing
The good thing about this book is that it doesn't slow down and there is enough material in the book that will keep readers waiting for the next two books. Book two, Blightborn comes out in July this year and it's going to be as exciting as this one, I am sure.

All in all, it was a very fast read. I just zipped through the book in a few hours.

What is the book about? A lot of things, growing up, government control, corn, environment, family, love, standing up for friends, family and all the things
Emma Sea
Jan 30, 2015 Emma Sea marked it as own-and-need-to-read  ·  review of another edition
cover copy? why are you full of question marks?
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Chuck Wendig is a novelist, a screenwriter, and a freelance penmonkey.
He has contributed over two million words to the roleplaying game industry, and was the developer of the popular Hunter: The Vigil game line (White Wolf Game Studios / CCP).

He, along with writing partner Lance Weiler, is a fellow of the Sundance Film Festival Screenwriter's Lab (2010). Their short film, Pandemic, will show at th
More about Chuck Wendig...

Other Books in the Series

The Heartland Trilogy (3 books)
  • Blightborn (The Heartland Trilogy #2)
  • The Harvest (The Heartland Trilogy, #3)

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