Blightborn (The Heartland Trilogy #2)
Cael McAvoy is on the run. He’s heading toward the Empyrean to rescue his sister, Merelda, and to find Gwennie before she’s lost to Cael forever. With his pals, Lane and Rigo, Cael journeys across the Heartland to catch a ride into the sky. But with Boyland and others after them, Cael and his friends won’t make it through unchanged.Gwennie’s living the life of a Lottery winner, but it’s not what she expected. Separated from her family, Gwennie makes a bold move—one that catches the attention of the Empyrean and changes the course of an Empyrean man’s life.The crew from Boxelder aren’t the only folks willing to sacrifice everything to see the Empyrean fall. The question is: Can the others be trusted?They’d all better hurry. Because the Empyrean has plans that could ensure that the Heartland never fights back again.Chuck Wendig’s riveting sequel to Under the Empyrean Sky plunges readers into an unsettling world of inequality and destruction, and fleshes out a cast of ragtag characters all fighting for survival and, ultimately, change.

Blightborn (The Heartland Trilogy #2) Details

TitleBlightborn (The Heartland Trilogy #2)
Author
FormatKindle Edition
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJul 29th, 2014
PublisherSkyscape
Number of pages528 pages
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Apocalyptic, Post Apocalyptic, Romance, Science Fiction Fantasy, Speculative Fiction, Teen

Blightborn (The Heartland Trilogy #2) Review

  • Dan Schwent
    July 3, 2014
    Cael, Lane, and Rigo head north through the Heartland, looking for the provisions depot, and stumble upon more than they bargain for in the form of a mysterious hobo and the Sleeping Dogs, raiders fighting against the Empyreans. Meanwhile, Gwennie has found that winning the Lottery isn't all it's cracked up to be and wants to escape the flotilla...I got this from Netgalley. Thank you, Netgalley!Chuck Wendig is one of the few authors I've encountered that knows how to make the second book in a tr Cael, Lane, and Rigo head north through the Heartland, looking for the provisions depot, and stumble upon more than they bargain for in the form of a mysterious hobo and the Sleeping Dogs, raiders fighting against the Empyreans. Meanwhile, Gwennie has found that winning the Lottery isn't all it's cracked up to be and wants to escape the flotilla...I got this from Netgalley. Thank you, Netgalley!Chuck Wendig is one of the few authors I've encountered that knows how to make the second book in a trilogy not suck. Blightborn takes what Chuck established in the first book and turns the knob up a few notches. Blightborn picks up where Under the Empyrean Sky left off. Cael and his pals are on the run. Gwennie is on the flotilla and sees Cael's sister. Rigo's father, Wanda, and Boyland Barnes Jr. are part of a posse looking for Cael and his pals. Things quickly spiral out of control from there.I don't want to give away too many of the nuts and bolts of the plot or reveal too much of what happened in the last book. I will say that all the threads of the plot advance quite a bit. The new characters of The Sleeping Dogs, the peregrine, Harrington, Eben, and the Maize Witch are all pretty compelling. Not one of the characters emerged unscathed. Who would have thought Cael's father was so interesting back in the day?I really like what Wendig seems to be building toward in the Heartland Trilogy. The series reminds me of Black Feathers at some times and The Court of the Air at others, with its ecological themes and cities in the clouds. With the full scope of what the Empyrean is planning, I can't wait for the final book!Four out of five stars. Get crackin' on the sequel, Chuck!
    more
  • Sh3lly ✨ Bring on the Weird ✨
    June 22, 2015
    I originally DNF'd this at 53% and then decided to try and finish it because I got it from Netgalley and wanted to be able to provide feedback. I am going to keep my original rating. I just didn't think was as good as the first one. I feel like the same story could have been told in less pages. This felt bloated and I didn't care about any of the new characters. I did like Balastair. The female characters were annoying and I didn't really like Cael either. I have the third one so will finish the I originally DNF'd this at 53% and then decided to try and finish it because I got it from Netgalley and wanted to be able to provide feedback. I am going to keep my original rating. I just didn't think was as good as the first one. I feel like the same story could have been told in less pages. This felt bloated and I didn't care about any of the new characters. I did like Balastair. The female characters were annoying and I didn't really like Cael either. I have the third one so will finish the trilogy. I hope the last one is better than this one. Also posted at: https://theparanormalpaladin.wordpres...Original review:DNF 53%. I really enjoyed the first book, but this one is seriously annoying me. The two main characters, Cael and Gwennie are the most annoying, irritating characters and I wish they were killed off. I like every other character so much more. Why can't Cael be killed off and Lane be the main male character from here on out?I hate Gwennie. I love Merelda McAvoy. I totally understand why she left the Heartland. She made a better life for herself and mega-bitch Gwennie had to ruin it for her. She's so selfish and will take anyone out to find her family. I get that her family is important, but you don't destroy other innocent people to accomplish your goals, you dumb bitch. I can't stand her. Kill Cael and Gwennie off and I will continue reading this. If anyone has finished this trilogy and can tell me that things change with these idiotic characters, I will pick this back up and try again. But I don't have time for BS like this. I do not want a HEA for Cael and Gwennie. I am not rooting or cheering for them whatsoever. They should go back to the Heartland and eat rats and continue their existence that they thought was peachy keen. Only they wanted to bitch when they were in it, but not when they had opportunities to get out of it. Instead, they attack everyone and anything that offers them a chance because they are suspicious and selfish pigs. God, I hate them both. Ruined it for me. :(I'm sorry. But this pisses me off. I can't even. Also, WAY too much switching between chapters and POVs. Just when a little bit of action happened, it switched, then a few pages later, just when some momentum was building, ANOTHER switch. Seriously. That is frustrating.Original post:Yay, I was approved by Netgalley for book 2 in this trilogy! Here is my review for the first book. I really liked it and can't wait to keep going with this story.:)
    more
  • Steven
    July 28, 2015
    Blightborn by Chuck WendigPublished 2014, SkyscapeStars: ★★★★☆Review also posted at: Slapdash & SundryThanks, Netgalley, for giving me this great Chuck book in exchange for an unbiased review... though it's hard to be unbiased when Chuck is so awesome!!!Seriously, this one kicked it up a notch... actually, way past a notch. Our heroes and heroines got deeper into trouble, a few new characters were introduced, and some allegiances changed back and forth a few times.This series is proving to b Blightborn by Chuck WendigPublished 2014, SkyscapeStars: ★★★★☆Review also posted at: Slapdash & SundryThanks, Netgalley, for giving me this great Chuck book in exchange for an unbiased review... though it's hard to be unbiased when Chuck is so awesome!!!Seriously, this one kicked it up a notch... actually, way past a notch. Our heroes and heroines got deeper into trouble, a few new characters were introduced, and some allegiances changed back and forth a few times.This series is proving to be further and further from being what I thought it would be, based off my pre-judgments and the cover (strictly sci-fi, if you were wondering), and is turning out to be a handful of genres deftly joined into a fantastic world.Book three is next up (okay, at the time of this, I'm a quarter of the way into book three already). Let's see if the end of the trilogy is as explosive as the end of book two.
    more
  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    February 25, 2014
    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2014/08/02/y...I make it no secret that I’ve been in a bit of a YA slump lately. This year saw a few of my favorite YA series finishing their runs and I’ve been flitting around checking out more books to fill the void, and it’s been difficult finding anything that clicked with me. This has led to discouragement and no small amount of burnout, so I’m really glad for books like Joe Abercrombie’s Half a King and now Chuck Wendig’s Blighborn 4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum http://bibliosanctum.com/2014/08/02/y...I make it no secret that I’ve been in a bit of a YA slump lately. This year saw a few of my favorite YA series finishing their runs and I’ve been flitting around checking out more books to fill the void, and it’s been difficult finding anything that clicked with me. This has led to discouragement and no small amount of burnout, so I’m really glad for books like Joe Abercrombie’s Half a King and now Chuck Wendig’s Blighborn to come along and snap me out of my funk.If you’ve read the first book of The Heartland Trilogy, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Under the Empyrean Sky was a real shaker-upper for me, making itself stand out from a lot of Young Adult dystopians novels by being surprisingly candid and authentic. The Heartland is a rough place that breeds rough folk, a place where killer corn, deadly Blights and piss-blizzards are an everyday reality. After several YA sequels have disappointed me earlier in the year for having plots that are unimaginative and contrived, Wendig’s refusal to sugarcoat or hold anything back is exactly what I needed. Blightborn was interesting and unpredictable, much like life in the Heartland.The book picks up where the first one left off, with Cael, Rigo and Lane on the run, looking to find a way skyward to the Empyrean flotilla. Right on their heels are Boyland Barnes Jr., Rigo’s father, and Wanda, who all have their reasons to pursue the three friends. Boyland wants revenge, after believing Cael killed his father. Rigo’s father just wants his son back. And Wanda hopes to be reunited with Cael, her “Obligated”. However, Cael’s heart already belongs to Gwennie, who is living the life of a Lottery winner on the floating city of Ormond Stirling Saranyu and is realizing it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.As you can see, interwoven between the various plot threads are these intricate relationships between the characters which add a lot to the story, so I highly recommend grabbing the Under the Empyrean Sky before reading Blightborn to fully experience all the underlying nuances. Wendig continues to explore and develop these relationships, especially when it comes to the dynamics between Cael, Lane and Rigo. As their fight for survival intensifies, the three friends learn to trust each other. Over a number of intense and sometimes touching scenes, they discover new things and gain a deeper understanding of each other and themselves in the process.Romance also isn’t a central focus of this series, but love and devotion certainly plays a part. It’s the motivation behind so much of what the characters do, after all, with Cael and Boyland both going after Gwennie, Wanda after Cael, etc. Usually, I have very little patience with stuff like love triangles – or God forbid, love squares – but I’ve come to appreciate the complicated emotions flying between all these characters and the fact that they never remain static. Cael and his friends do a lot of growing up, and with growth also comes a more mature way of looking at the world and others. Cael, for example, is much less self-absorbed in this book, learning to put himself in his friends’ shoes, and sometimes even in his enemy’s. While he and Boyland have always been at odds, Cael can still admit to himself that what the other boy feels for Gwennie could be genuine and respect that, which is a huge step for him as a character in my eyes.Another thing I loved about this book is the expansion of the readers’ world into the skies. We’d heard over and over about the corruption and decadence of the Empyrean in the first book, and now we finally get to catch a glimpse of how the elite live. It was important to see the huge disparity between life on the flotilla and life down in the Heartland as it builds the story up quite a bit, setting up the stage for new players like the Sleeping Dogs rebels, who do their share of stirring things up both in the skies and on the ground. No dystopian novel is complete without an uprising, and the pressure that has been around since the first book finally boils over in Blightborn, culminating in a stunning climax, but not before Wendig takes us on a crazy wild ride to get to that point.I highly recommend this series, especially if you’re a fan of Chuck Wendig. I’ve always loved his writing style and characters, and that hasn’t changed even with his venture into YA dystopian. Books like this one keep me excited about the genre!
    more
  •  Simply Sam ツ
    July 21, 2016
    I think this was a solid second book. We're thrown right back into the story, but the action is now broken up between those on the flotilla and those on the ground hoping to rescue them. I still think the corn is completely bizarre, and in this book we get to take a closer look at the blight, though it is still not really explained. It's just so strange and more than a little horrifying. We learn that life on the flotilla is not all that it is cracked up to be (imagine that!) and that Cael's fat I think this was a solid second book. We're thrown right back into the story, but the action is now broken up between those on the flotilla and those on the ground hoping to rescue them. I still think the corn is completely bizarre, and in this book we get to take a closer look at the blight, though it is still not really explained. It's just so strange and more than a little horrifying. We learn that life on the flotilla is not all that it is cracked up to be (imagine that!) and that Cael's father has even more secrets up his sleeve. Cael and his cohorts end up teamed up with the rebel group, The Sleeping Dogs, on the ground, all while being pursued by Boyland and his new crew. Meanwhile Gwennie is roped into assisting the rebels in the air with a very reluctant Merelda in tow. The action comes to a head when the rebel group decides it's time for the flotilla to experience life in the Heartland and puts into action a plan to tear it from the sky. There's a few new faces introduced, a lot of action, and even more creepy plant goodness. I really enjoyed it. I'm interested to see how this story concludes. On to the next one! Oh, and I just want to add, I listened to the audio version of this book. I think the narrator did a fantastic job with this story (again!). I have limited experience with audio books, though, so I'm not sure how much weight my opinion carries on the matter, but there it is :)
    more
  • Connor
    September 30, 2015
    [4.5 Stars] Woah, I read that so quickly once I started. Review to come shortly! Edit: Okay, it's been a couple weeks so it's high time that I do my review for this book before I forget anything.Holy mackerel! This was just as amazing as the first book, Under the Empyrean Sky! There were just so many things that I loved that continued on from the first as well as adding more. I worried that this would suffer from middle book syndrome, but nope! I think my favorite thing has to be the unpredictab [4.5 Stars] Woah, I read that so quickly once I started. Review to come shortly! Edit: Okay, it's been a couple weeks so it's high time that I do my review for this book before I forget anything.Holy mackerel! This was just as amazing as the first book, Under the Empyrean Sky! There were just so many things that I loved that continued on from the first as well as adding more. I worried that this would suffer from middle book syndrome, but nope! I think my favorite thing has to be the unpredictability of the plot. Most fiction novels can become stale as you guess everything that is going to happen beforehand, but Blightborn definitely kept me on my toes the entire time. I never knew which new direction Wendig would take his characters or what obstacle they'd have to face next. It made for a very exciting and fast paced novel as I continued to turn the page over and over to see what was next. The world was definitely expanded which I thoroughly enjoyed. In the first we're introduced to the characters and their immediate problems, but in this one we get to see parts of the rest of the world and the problems that inflict the society as a whole. The flotilla was so interesting, and I loved the dynamic of the characters that are on it together. Obviously with the title, we get to learn more about the blight and where it originates. Fantastic. The history of the creepy corn is also brought to light. I really think this novel did a great job of providing more world building without being info dumpy. One of my issues with the first book was that I didn't feel attached to the characters. It definitely improves with this installment, but I still do feel a bit detached to them for some reason. I think I became glad for that because their lives, they are awful. I'm so glad I don't have to deal with what they have to endure. I don't want to make this review overly long, so just know that this series is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I did receive a copy through NetGalley (Not affecting my review at all), but I now need to go out and get myself physical copies. They are that awesome.
    more
  • Liz Neering
    August 4, 2014
    This book, this SERIES, is so good I think I'm going to be sick. I didn't want it to end, least of all where it DID. Lane, sweet Lane, WHAT HAPPENS, I MUST KNOW.In all seriousness, BLIGHTBORN is as well paced and tightly plotted as its predecessor. The characters are remarkable. They're deep and complex and difficult, and they tug at my heartstrings and surprise me in the best and most painful of ways. I have to comment on the wonderful representation in the book, too. There's no punching down t This book, this SERIES, is so good I think I'm going to be sick. I didn't want it to end, least of all where it DID. Lane, sweet Lane, WHAT HAPPENS, I MUST KNOW.In all seriousness, BLIGHTBORN is as well paced and tightly plotted as its predecessor. The characters are remarkable. They're deep and complex and difficult, and they tug at my heartstrings and surprise me in the best and most painful of ways. I have to comment on the wonderful representation in the book, too. There's no punching down to be found here. There's a fat kid who isn't craven and cowardly, but brave, steadfast, strong, and a quick thinker. There's a gay kid who's multidimensional and not demonized or mocked by the narrative (though yes, he does face the fears and lashing-out of those who don't understand). And people of color! Who aren't cannon fodder! Confetti everywhere!I'm literally salivating over the thought of the next book. I can't even deal, you guys.
    more
  • Melanie R Meadors
    July 14, 2014
    Wow.This book was everything awesome that the first Heartland book, UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY, was, and more. Wendig’s characters are like real people, multi-dimensional and complicated. There are no cliche cardboard cutout archetypes or tropes here. Every character has their strengths, weaknesses, things that you love, and things that make you want to scream.I went into this book expecting a second book, maybe a little saggy, like many middle books of trilogies are. Hell no. This book kept me enga Wow.This book was everything awesome that the first Heartland book, UNDER THE EMPYREAN SKY, was, and more. Wendig’s characters are like real people, multi-dimensional and complicated. There are no cliche cardboard cutout archetypes or tropes here. Every character has their strengths, weaknesses, things that you love, and things that make you want to scream.I went into this book expecting a second book, maybe a little saggy, like many middle books of trilogies are. Hell no. This book kept me engaged the entire time, kept me wondering what would happen next, and kept surprising me. The setting details are fantastic, the action and pacing impeccable. In this book, we learn so much more about the characters we already know/love/hate from the first book, and meet several new folks, too. Things grow more complicated as the plot thickens, and the world isn’t as black and white as it perhaps seemed earlier in the series.Something that stood out for me about this book as I read it is Wendig’s treatment of his younger characters. There is no talking down here, no weird older author’s take on teens. This is an author who understands the way a seventeen year old thinks, and tells it like it is. Wendig’s respect for his subjects is clear. There is no annoying whining here, like I’ve noticed in several other YA books I’ve read. These are characters who teens can be proud of, who they can sympathize with. Sure, they have their rough moments, but they take action. They make mistakes, but they learn.The future Wendig has portrayed here is eerily reflective of issues happening today–I can see how this world could exist. The themes of this trilogy are timely and thought provoking.BLIGHTBORN is an action packed, emotional ride that both teens and adults would enjoy. The only negative part is that I have to wait a year before getting my hands on the next one!
    more
  • Monica
    July 30, 2014
    This Review was originally posted on Avid Reviews: www.avidfantasyreviews.wordpress.com Blightborn is the second installment in the Heartland Trilogy by Chuck Wendig. You can find my review of the first novel in the series, Under the Empyrean Sky, here:http://avidfantasyreviews.wordpress.c... The Heartland Trilogy is comprised of dystopian novels that paint a picture of a future where corn is the only crop permitted to be grown, and the rich live in cities that float in the sky. In the first n This Review was originally posted on Avid Reviews: www.avidfantasyreviews.wordpress.com Blightborn is the second installment in the Heartland Trilogy by Chuck Wendig. You can find my review of the first novel in the series, Under the Empyrean Sky, here:http://avidfantasyreviews.wordpress.c... The Heartland Trilogy is comprised of dystopian novels that paint a picture of a future where corn is the only crop permitted to be grown, and the rich live in cities that float in the sky. In the first novel in the series Wendig introduced the reader to the Heartland in a fast paced story that highlighted the struggles of the people who live amongst the endless sea of corn. Blightborn continues the story of the Heartlanders while at the same time introducing a glimpse of the privileged lives of those that live on the Empyrean flotillas. With this novel Wendig manages to create a story as fast paced and exciting as the first novel in the series, while also raising the stakes for his characters and expanding on his world in new and remarkable ways. I would advise against reading the rest of this review if you have not yet read Under the Empyrean Sky, as the rest of this review will contain spoilers for the first novel in the Heartland trilogy. Blightborn picks up right where Under the Empyrean Sky left off, with Cael and his friends on the run from their hometown, and with hopes of making it onto an Empyrean flotilla in order to rescue Gwennie, the woman Cael loves. Gwennie is currently living the life of a lottery winner, though it is far from what she expected it to be. She separated from her family, and rarely gets a break from her job of mucking out the stables of genetically mutated horses. Intermittently she is invited to one of the flotillas’ extravagant parties only to be gawked at by the upper class, which finds her to be little more than an unfortunate provincial specimen. Both Cael and Gwennie must fight against the odds to change their fate; and if they fail, the Empyrean has plans that may change their lives forever, and make sure that the Heartlanders will never be able to fight back again, or change their lives for the better. This book is both darker and more complex than its predecessor, and in many ways a more mature and accomplished novel. Fans of the first book in the Heartland trilogy will find much in this book to fall in love with. The characters grow and become more developed, the plot both expands the world and raises the stakes, and the ending of the book leaves the reader wanting more. The vast inequalities between the Heartlanders and the Empyreans become even more defined in this novel, and bring more meaning to the series’ environmental message. In a genre that is flooded with mediocre novels, Wendigs’ stand far above the rest of the pack due to his unique setting and wildly exciting plot lines. This is a series that will surprise even the most jaded fans of the dystopian genre. Wendig has made me a true fan with this book, and I will be eagerly awaiting the final installment in the Heartland series. My rating for this book is 8/10. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.
    more
  • Nichole
    May 23, 2014
    I really wanted this to be a five start book. I really, really, really did. But gosh darn it, I just couldn't do it. The story is amazing, the world is incredible, I love everything about this series. The only thing that screwed it up, was again, the writing style. This author can take a story, weave so much into it and create a great climactic ending that just blew me away and left me wanting, but I was distracted. It was almost as if he had a list of every cliche simile ever written and put th I really wanted this to be a five start book. I really, really, really did. But gosh darn it, I just couldn't do it. The story is amazing, the world is incredible, I love everything about this series. The only thing that screwed it up, was again, the writing style. This author can take a story, weave so much into it and create a great climactic ending that just blew me away and left me wanting, but I was distracted. It was almost as if he had a list of every cliche simile ever written and put them in the most inappropriate places. You don't compare a voice being drowned out by a ship to a farmer drowning a bunch of kittens. I am no English major, and I will ever claim to be, so if I am the only one that takes issue with it, so be it.None the less, I will be anxiously awaiting the next book, slowly going mad.
    more
  • Craig
    August 26, 2014
    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I wanted to like it... obviously I thought I'd like it or I wouldn't have entered the contest... but it just never clicked for me. I kept reading fifty pages or so and then putting it down for something else. The setting was interesting-- a dystopian civilization with the upper class floating about on steampunk-flavored, Bespin-like flying cities while the poor masses are stuck on the ground in a world taken over by Stephen King-ish mutant corn-- but the I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I wanted to like it... obviously I thought I'd like it or I wouldn't have entered the contest... but it just never clicked for me. I kept reading fifty pages or so and then putting it down for something else. The setting was interesting-- a dystopian civilization with the upper class floating about on steampunk-flavored, Bespin-like flying cities while the poor masses are stuck on the ground in a world taken over by Stephen King-ish mutant corn-- but the characters didn't grab me. The book was full of unpleasant people doing unpleasant things to one another, having unhappy sex, going off on ill-fated journeys, scheming and failing in poorly planned adventures, etc. I've read several good reviews of the book by people I respect, so the fault here is probably with me.
    more
  • Nina
    December 10, 2014
    I actually had to stop midway through this book. Not that it was lacking action or anything, but the treatment of the female characters made me too uncomfortable. I realize it's all dystopian so poor people clearly must be depraved and HORRIBLE to each other, but the situations he put them in didn't really seem necessary for the plot to move along, and it wasn't taken seriously enough for me to handle continuing to read it. It may be a personal issue, but I still couldn't do it. Also, the perspe I actually had to stop midway through this book. Not that it was lacking action or anything, but the treatment of the female characters made me too uncomfortable. I realize it's all dystopian so poor people clearly must be depraved and HORRIBLE to each other, but the situations he put them in didn't really seem necessary for the plot to move along, and it wasn't taken seriously enough for me to handle continuing to read it. It may be a personal issue, but I still couldn't do it. Also, the perspective changing every 3 paragraphs made it very hard to get into any one person's story.So sorry, but not my thing!
    more
  • Daisy
    July 5, 2015
    Quality Rating: Four StarsEnjoyment Rating: Five Stars◆ Thanks to NetGalley for this eBook copy for review ◆I have so much fun reading these books. Past the decent story and the writing and characters, the enjoyment from just getting through this series is enough for me to want to keep coming back.While I don't feel Wendig's writing has dramatically developed since Under the Empyrean Sky, I can't deny how much the humour engages me. However boyish and immature at times it's really entertaining: Quality Rating: Four StarsEnjoyment Rating: Five Stars◆ Thanks to NetGalley for this eBook copy for review ◆I have so much fun reading these books. Past the decent story and the writing and characters, the enjoyment from just getting through this series is enough for me to want to keep coming back.While I don't feel Wendig's writing has dramatically developed since Under the Empyrean Sky, I can't deny how much the humour engages me. However boyish and immature at times it's really entertaining: I have a feeling it's a particular kind of comedy that won't appeal to everyone so don't be too disappointed if you don't get it.The big variable as to whether you get on with the Heartland stories is the world. Wendig has a very bizarre imagination, and the concept he creates are really key in the development of the story and characters - and it can be quite hard to get. Through the first book I got distracted by the unusualness of the living corn and the Blight (a 'disease' where people start growing vines through their bodies - see what I mean?), but because I read the second book next to the first it became a lot easier to accept the strangeness and focus on the story.I really love how the story's expanding as it progresses: the characters are continually being split up and reunited even within a single story, and the way their paths meet and then diverge regularly keeps the pace up. The diversity of settings also interested me as it allows us a huge view on the world previously denied in the last book at the same time (the simultaneous events happening from different perspectives was particularly good). Wendig is also beginning to explore more controversial issues, and quite well in my opinion: subjects like sexuality and abuse are broached, and dealt with in a positive way.The conclusion to Blightborn was a bit disappointing for me, as it was similar to the ending of Under the Empyrean Sky. The characters have developed as individuals, but as for their positions in the story we still have the same sort of construct and protagonist powers. Having said that I'm definitely looking forward to reading the conclusion to the series.The Heartland Trilogy didn't capture me straight away with its characters, but as the books have progressed they've become more complex. My favourite aspect was that nobody was completely loyal: they're doing whatever they think is best like people do in reality, even if it ends up ruining everything.Admittedly, I'm still kind of indifferent towards Cael as a character, but as a protagonist I really like how he's going quite a different way from everyone else in the story. It's nice and refreshing to have the main character going off on his own path while everyone else keeps going without him - but still being affected by his actions.I started to fall in love with Gwennie in this book. She's becoming darker and really came into her own power and strength independently in Blightborn. There's definitely been better development of women compared to the first book, but I can't help but feel their stories are still centered around romance: the boys only talk about her in terms of her position to them, and all other female characters are either attached to family or presented as a betrayer or weak.I felt the pacing in Blightborn was much better than Under the Empyrean Sky: the diversity of setting and variety of characters was probably the main reason for this. Because we follow so many people in various situations, there's always something going on and it's usually a little different from everything else. A small issue I found with the previous book was the pretty much solid focus on Cael and his story that took place in the same landscape; jumping between characters made it a lot more engaging.Though I don't want to compare this series to anything else, I feel a similar audience to The Maze Runner or Charlie Higson's The Enemy would be engaged by these books. Personally, I found reading the first two books close together really helped not only in keeping the story fresh in my mind, but also in terms of acclimatising to Wendig's frankly bizarre imagination. There may be a few small details that get to me, but overall The Heartland Trilogy is great fun and definitely worth the read.
    more
  • Sachin Dev
    August 18, 2014
    Heartland trilogy chugs ahead full speed with Blightborn, the second book that follows the adventures of Cael McAvoy and his buddies set in a dystopian future where evil schemes of the greedy man has killed the soil – there is only corn that grows out here on earth – and the Heartland dwellers – the “have-nots” stuck in this sunny dustbowl of a wasteland are grubbing their way through lives suffering under the tyranny of the sky-dwellers or the Empyreans. The title of the first book, Under the E Heartland trilogy chugs ahead full speed with Blightborn, the second book that follows the adventures of Cael McAvoy and his buddies set in a dystopian future where evil schemes of the greedy man has killed the soil – there is only corn that grows out here on earth – and the Heartland dwellers – the “have-nots” stuck in this sunny dustbowl of a wasteland are grubbing their way through lives suffering under the tyranny of the sky-dwellers or the Empyreans. The title of the first book, Under the Empyrean Sky was apt. Evocative and lush, as the title imagery suggests, much of book one happens on the ground hide and seek among the corn stalks in Heartland.But with Book Two in this series, Blightborn – Chuck Wendig slams the pedal fully down. Both the world-building and characterization get a lot of detail as we are sucked deeper into this world of piss-blizzards, blood-thirsty corn-stalks and the deadly blight. While book one was predominantly from the viewpoint of the self-absorbed Cael set mostly in and around the town of Boxelder and the unending corn stalk fields of Heartland, this time we get a wider perspective of the world and the happenings or conspiracies that led to this dystopian setting.In short, we take to the air.And explore the myriad mysteries of the Empyrean Empire aboard this flotilla- Mainly through Gwennie or Gwendolyn Shawcatch – Cael’s girlfriend, Obligated to Cael’s bitter rival, Barnes in the first book. Gwennie’s life changes after the “Lottery” – where her family is the “lucky” one to be taken aboard a flotilla. But to her horror, things go spiraling downwards pretty fast – the lottery turns out to be ticket to lifelong slavery – mucking horseshit and apprenticed to a quirky scientist in the sky with his own secrets and sob-stories at large. And of course, she runs into Cael’s sister, Merelda.Meanwhile, Cael and his best buddies, Lane and Rigo are on the run. A chance encounter with a crazed hobo and the Raiders – a set of terrorists or anarchists trying to make the Empyrean count for all their sins – turns their lives on its head. And Barnes, along with Wanda and Rigo’s father form a posse to hunt down Cael’s gang and now are hot on their trail.If the first book in that series was one ripe with possibilities, then book two blossoms out. Then goes ahead and simply explodes. Chuck ensures that the horizons are widening. As we explore the Skies of the Empyrean Empire, we understand that sky is not the limit. (pun intended) We get to see the world of Heartland outside of the Boxelder town. But the most interesting part for me – was of course the bizarre life aboard the Flotillas. The quirks of the sky-dwellers, the weapons, their obsessions with auto-bots, their whacky parties. (Mind boggling imagination, Mr.Wendig!) all makes for an engrossing read. But in typical Wendig style, the plot dives head long into twisty conspiracies – secrets come tumbling out and revelations leave you shocked and gasping for more. I found it to be one of the best ways to develop this trilogy – with the world expanding, characters evolving and the plot deepening. And fuck-a-duck, book two ends on a cliffhanger. I hated that but now the wait is desperate and restless. So Blightborn is everything shiny and good that Under the Empyrean Sky offered us and then takes it up a few notches towards “really good” territory. It’s a great second book in a series that truly rolls the overall plot forwards while opening it really wide. The teeming possibilities are exciting beyond measure. And with the ending of Book two, I am now waiting on a bed of nails raked over a bed of hot burning coals. Get back to writing, Chuck!!
    more
  • SoWrongItsRANDI {Bell, Book & Candle}
    July 30, 2014
    I received this advanced copy from Net Galley and Skyscape publishing in exchange for an honest reviewBell, Book & Candle | Blightborn ReviewAnother brilliant cover art piece this one is. I must admit that I have not read the first book of the series, so ultimately I was lost at first. Thankfully it didn't take away from the story too much, and I was able to catch up with all the different storylines and subplots. I would consider this book high fantasy and a dystopian, that is filled with a I received this advanced copy from Net Galley and Skyscape publishing in exchange for an honest reviewBell, Book & Candle | Blightborn ReviewAnother brilliant cover art piece this one is. I must admit that I have not read the first book of the series, so ultimately I was lost at first. Thankfully it didn't take away from the story too much, and I was able to catch up with all the different storylines and subplots. I would consider this book high fantasy and a dystopian, that is filled with action, adventure and a little humor. The world Chuck Wendig creates is mind-blowing.Blightborn definitely has a cast of characters within the story, and that is putting it lightly. From the tyrant to the courageous rebel leader to the homosexual sidekick; it was pretty entertaining. Each of their storylines pulled at my heart strings; I really felt empathetic to their predicament. There are also a whole lot of love triangles, which were kind of...weird. But then again, books reflect reality. The writing was amazing and the story grabbed my attention from the first page. The length of the book is on the long side though, so beware. That ending left me in awe. While I am impatiently awaiting the next book in the series, I might read the first book.
    more
  • Jennie
    February 10, 2016
    The last half of this book really carried my rating over to 3 stars. I'm still somewhat underwhelmed by this series, but I keep being drawn back in because I find the concept interesting and I'm curious where the story will go from here.The characters' relationships are so interwoven and they can't figure out who they want to be with over one another. It is really difficult when trying to relate to them or figure out their motivations.In this book we are finally introduced to the Empryeans. Sadl The last half of this book really carried my rating over to 3 stars. I'm still somewhat underwhelmed by this series, but I keep being drawn back in because I find the concept interesting and I'm curious where the story will go from here.The characters' relationships are so interwoven and they can't figure out who they want to be with over one another. It is really difficult when trying to relate to them or figure out their motivations.In this book we are finally introduced to the Empryeans. Sadly I found them to be very lacking in so many ways. They are just lightly touched upon (other than just 2 of them) and it's hard to get a feeling one way or another whether you really care about them.I guess that sums up my feeling at the end of finishing this book. It's hard to decide one way or another whether I really care about it or not. The science portion of this story is very interesting though, and that alone is making me start the third book.
    more
  • Kaleb
    June 2, 2014
    Actual Rating: 4.5Chuck Wendig is incapable of writing a bad book. Seriously! After reading his other works, I have never found myself disappointed by his beautiful imagery, well drawn characters, and great storytelling. Blightborn is the second installment in the Heartland trilogy and it is just as good as the first one. I can't tell you how many times I woke up in the middle of the night just to see what would happen next in this epic tale of a bands of heroes rebelling against a tyrannical sy Actual Rating: 4.5Chuck Wendig is incapable of writing a bad book. Seriously! After reading his other works, I have never found myself disappointed by his beautiful imagery, well drawn characters, and great storytelling. Blightborn is the second installment in the Heartland trilogy and it is just as good as the first one. I can't tell you how many times I woke up in the middle of the night just to see what would happen next in this epic tale of a bands of heroes rebelling against a tyrannical system who uses genetically engineered corn to rule over the people of the Heartland.Currently as I write this small review, the first two books are on sale at amazon for two bucks a pop. You'd be a fool to pass that up! It is well worth your time and money.
    more
  • Bibliotropic
    July 14, 2014
    (Full review here: http://bibliotropic.net/2014/08/07/bl...)Under the Empyrean Sky was a good book. Blightborn kicked it up a notch and turned a good story into a great one. With this trend, I’m expecting the third book to blow me away, to be as impressive as I’ve come to expect from Wendig’s writing. If you start this series, it’s one that you’re not going to leave behind and forget about. From the very real and increasingly diverse cast of characters to the twisted setting and its social comme (Full review here: http://bibliotropic.net/2014/08/07/bl...)Under the Empyrean Sky was a good book. Blightborn kicked it up a notch and turned a good story into a great one. With this trend, I’m expecting the third book to blow me away, to be as impressive as I’ve come to expect from Wendig’s writing. If you start this series, it’s one that you’re not going to leave behind and forget about. From the very real and increasingly diverse cast of characters to the twisted setting and its social commentary to the exciting plot about bringing down a corrupt and abusive system, it’s the kind of series that those hungry for action and adventure will simply devour!Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go eat some corn.
    more
  • Tam Linsey
    November 3, 2015
    I listened to this on audio and LOVED it. The narrator is amazing with the different voices. And the author has done awesome world building for this storyline. If you like dystopia and rich, engaging characters, this book is for you.
  • Nick Morgan
    July 29, 2014
    Reposted from Notes to the Dark NetCael McAvoy is on the run. He’s heading toward the Empyrean to rescue his sister, Merelda, and to find Gwennie before she’s lost to Cael forever. With his pals, Lane and Rigo, Cael journeys across the Heartland to catch a ride into the sky. But with Boyland and others after them, Cael and his friends won’t make it through unchanged.Gwennie’s living the life of a Lottery winner, but it’s not what she expected. Separated from her family, Gwennie makes a bold move Reposted from Notes to the Dark NetCael McAvoy is on the run. He’s heading toward the Empyrean to rescue his sister, Merelda, and to find Gwennie before she’s lost to Cael forever. With his pals, Lane and Rigo, Cael journeys across the Heartland to catch a ride into the sky. But with Boyland and others after them, Cael and his friends won’t make it through unchanged.Gwennie’s living the life of a Lottery winner, but it’s not what she expected. Separated from her family, Gwennie makes a bold move—one that catches the attention of the Empyrean and changes the course of an Empyrean man’s life.The crew from Boxelder aren’t the only folks willing to sacrifice everything to see the Empyrean fall. The question is: Can the others be trusted?They’d all better hurry. Because the Empyrean has plans that could ensure that the Heartland never fights back again.Chuck Wendig’s riveting sequel to Under the Empyrean Sky plunges readers into an unsettling world of inequality and destruction, and fleshes out a cast of ragtag characters all fighting for survival and, ultimately, change.Title: BlightbornAuthor: Chuck WendigCategory: Young AdultGenre: Science Fiction, DystopiaPublisher: Amazon Publishing (Skyscape)Publication Date: Ju;y 29, 2014Format: Kindle EbookLength: 528 pagesISBN-10: 1477847707ISBN-13: 978-1477847701Series or Standalone: The Heartland Trilogy #2Literary Awards:N/AThemes: Environmentalism, TerrorismPOV: 3rd Person, Multiple POVTense: Present Reviewer: Nick MorganWhy I Read It: Despite my disillusionment with the dystopian genre in the past few years, I decided to give this book a shot after receiving a digital review copy from the publisher through NetGalley. I have no regrets.Review:Chuck Wendig demonstrates his powerful storytelling abilities in his Heartlands series. Both Blightborn and the previous book were page-turners with interesting characters and a beautifully crafted setting in the Heartland of what used to be the United States, and is now the dominion of the Emyperean. Corn has spread like a weed across vast swaths of the old Midwest, and the economy is based on the trade of corn derivatives with the builders of great floating cities in the sky.Mild spoilers for Under the Empyeran Sky follow:Following Gwennie's ascent into the flotilla of Ormond Stirling Saranyu as a Lottery Winner, Wendig introduces us to Gwennie's new protector, Balastair, and are slowly introduced to the rest f the Empyrean cast. We also start to get some hints of what happened to Cael's sister Merelda. And it's quite an interesting story, too.We also get to learn more about the world of the Heartland and Empyrean. Some of the history and the secrets come to light during Cael's journey. The reasons why the world is the way it is are pretty well constructed, and they add wonderfully to the (urban) mythology of Wendig's world.I would say Blightborn is an improvement on Empyrean Sky, instead of the slump than many middle books in a trilogy tend to be. The action ramps up, but it's not filler. There are no training montages or sitting around waiting for the enemy to make a move. Wendig has created one of the more proactive dystopian MCs in a long while, and he takes full advantage of it.Now, with all that said, there are some things that are not so great about the book. For example, Wendig still hasn't really explained the reason for the Obligation ceremony. The ceremony serves to drive much of the story, both in the form of the conflict over Gwennie between Cael and Boyland, and in the character arc of Wanda. The idea of the Obligation certainly provides some convenient tension and motivation for Wendig's characters, but it's rather unclear why the Empyrean have imposed it on the Heartlanders when their own society is so much more free in terms of sexual and romantic relationships. Perhaps Wendig has some answers, but he hasn't seen fit to share them with his readers, and I found it a bit frustrating.Something of a bit more controversial nature is the relation ship between Merelda and her friend from the Provisional Depot. I won't spoil it here, especially this close to publication, but it's something that would certainly push this towards the 14+ crowd if you went by the standard media ratings systems. I haven't actually decided how I feel about it. It fits with the way many teenagers think, and it creates one of the most interesting sources of tension in the novel. But it did make me rather uncomfortable in a way not a lot of YA books do. In some ways, that's actually a compliment to Wendig. If I just hated it, or wasn't at all bothered, it wouldn't be nearly as powerful of a situation, and it would probably mean it was just handled poorly.My final nitpick has to do with a world-building issue. Considering the technology obviously available to the Empyrean, it seems a bit odd they would have so much trouble creating the pegasus that drives so much of the first part of the novel. They Empyrean clearly has access to some incredible genetics and bio-engineering technology, as you'll see if you read the book. So why do they find this one issue so difficult? I note this as an example of the cracks that run through Wendig's world-building. As long as you are pulled along by the story itself, and keep turning pages, you might be able to ignore these cracks. But for those who do care a bit more about the world-building aspects of the story, I want to be honest about my feelings on this issue.Still, despite a few reservations, I did enjoy this book, and I'm sure there are many others who would also enjoy it. I can't say everyone should go out and buy this book right now, but neither can I let anyone dismiss it out of hand. Certainly, anyone who enjoyed the first book in the series will find this a worthy successor.Conclusion: 74/100 (Very readable)Premise: 9/10 (Convinced me to read the series, no problem)Plot: 7/10 (Coherent if unambitious)Setting: 8/10 (Well constructed, intriguing, mysterious)Main Character: 8/10 (Well-crafted, engaging)World-building 7/10 (Great base, shaky details)Romance Sub-plot 5/10 (Cliche and forced)Supporting Characters: 8/10 (Well-constructed, engaging)Writing: 7/10 (More than competent, kept me reading)Themes: 6/10 (High aspirations, low execution)Resolution: 9/10 (Action-packed)Buy Or Borrow: Worth buying if you love YA Dystopia.About the Author:Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter, and game designer. He's the author of BLACKBIRDS, DOUBLE DEAD and DINOCALYPSE NOW, and is co-writer of the short film PANDEMIC, the feature film HiM, and the Emmy-nominated digital narrative COLLAPSUS. He lives in Pennsylvania with wife, taco terrier, and tiny human.Similar Books:Divergent series by Veronica RothThe Hunger Games series by Suzanne CollinsMatched by Allie CondieAcross the Universe by Beth RevisOther Reviews:GoodReadsMichael Patrick Hicks - Author WebsiteBones, Books, & BuffyMelanie R. Meadors - Author WebsiteBuy Links:AmazonBarnes and NobleIndieBoundE-Books: iBooks Not availableKindle UKKindle US Kobo Not available Google Play Not available nook Not available
    more
  • Hannah Ringler
    July 16, 2014
    Advance copy provided by NetGalleyI am sick to death of dystopian fiction. I read a surfeit of it as a teenager, and sometimes it seems like there’s very little besides paranormal romance and dystopias available in the YA section. So I’d pretty much sworn not to read any more. And yet. I read this despite the blurb describing it as a "chilling post-apocalyptic adventure” and I loved it.I’d actually intended to read the first book in this trilogy first - I went ahead and bought the Kindle version Advance copy provided by NetGalleyI am sick to death of dystopian fiction. I read a surfeit of it as a teenager, and sometimes it seems like there’s very little besides paranormal romance and dystopias available in the YA section. So I’d pretty much sworn not to read any more. And yet. I read this despite the blurb describing it as a "chilling post-apocalyptic adventure” and I loved it.I’d actually intended to read the first book in this trilogy first - I went ahead and bought the Kindle version and everything! - but between one thing and another forgot what I was doing and ended up reading Blightborn and then Under the Empyrean Sky. A perfect example of things-never-come-out-as-planned-when-you-do-them-while-tired.Interestingly, it actually makes very little difference to the story. Wendig’s writing is strong enough that in all honesty Blightborn could be a standalone novel. There was one section at the beginning of the book when Cael was talking about his wrecked boat that I didn’t understand, but other than that? It’s perfectly understandable and a good read. Not that it’s not a better read when you do read the first one, but it isn’t necessary to do so.For those with zero exposure to the series, it takes place in a world divided, where the rich, known as the Empyrean, live in floating cities and the poor live in the Heartland, an endless expanse of the hungry, sentient corn that is all the Empyrean allows the inhabitants of the Heartland to grow, subject to drifting storms of virulent pollen and deprived of all but the most basic necessities. They’re also prey to proscriptive cultural traditions, such as Obligation, and traditions that sound good but aren’t, like the Lottery (which isn’t quite as bad as Shirley Jackson’s short story of the same title, but definitely isn’t the windfall it’s made out to be). In Under the Empyrean Sky, Cael McAvoy is fed up with surviving his life instead of living it, and he’s determined to make a stack of ace notes, get the girl of his dreams, and maybe if he’s lucky find something to make his tumor-ridden mother’s life more comfortable. What he gets is not quite what he had in mind. The sequel, Blightborn, follows up on the consequences of his actions and those of his family and friends.The Heartland trilogy is one of resistance and rebellion. In the first book, Under the Empyrean Sky, it was against local figures of authority and constricting traditions (and a wee little bit against genetically modified crops). Blightborn takes the theme and broadens it. It’s not merely the personal manifestations of oppression that need resisting but the institution that imposes them in the first place. And as the story progresses, precisely whom and what to resist becomes the real question. Who, precisely, is the hero of the story is another question, and one that I’m not sure I can answer. Is it Gwennie, who won the Lottery to escape the Heartland, found that all it meant was more drudgery, and decided to do something about it? Is it Cael, desperate to rescue his beloved Gwennie and his runaway sister Merelda from the Empyrean, all the while fighting a curse of his own? They, and several other characters, all get a chance to narrate, and while this could seem clumsy in the hands of a less experienced writer, Wendig keeps all the perspectives distinct and the pace brisk. One thing that I particularly like is that even his minor characters all have heroic qualities - we have Merelda, who makes her dreams reality but finds them hollow; Lane, who wrestles with homophobia and the clay feet of his idols; Rigo, who loses his leg but finds his strength; Davies, whose daughter is worth more than his revenge; Balastair, whose past is full of secrets and whose present is a seemingly-impenetrable wall of frustration; even Boyland and Proctor Agrasanto (reminded me of Monsanto, which is probably a coincidence…), whose antagonistic natures contain seeds of loyalty, devotion, and self-sacrifice. Every one of them has a character arc I’d be willing to spend a whole novel following.One facet of the novel that I particularly enjoyed was the gradual revelation of the extent of the Empyrean’s villainy and the equally gradual revelation of the horrific extent of the resistance’s - the Sleeping Dogs - grand plan to bring them down. While at first it seems like, in the grand scheme of oppressive dystopian rule, the Empyrean is no Capitol (from the Hunger Games), by the end of the book it becomes clear that they have a feat of horrific utilitarianism in mind. Similarly, the Sleeping Dogs aren’t content to end the rule of the Empyrean - most of them are planning blood for blood, and they’ve got a plan for that that just might work. Little does everyone know that there’s a third player in the game which would be more than happy to pick up the pieces after the Sleeping Dogs and the Empyrean have ripped each other to shreds, and while we don’t learn precisely what the Maize Witch has in mind, there’s a definite suggestion that it too may well be less than benevolent.There was very little about this book and the preceding book in the trilogy that I didn’t like. The form of environmental devastation Wendig chose was particularly apt; monoculture, overcultivation, and pesticides are very real problems, and ones that many teenagers may be less familiar with than oppressive governments, nuclear devastation, global conflict, and global warming. On the other hand, I’m not sure that GMO farming deserves quite that much hate. In the end, my biggest problem is that the societies themselves are not as fully developed as they could be. The Empyreans seemed sort of sketched out and unoriginal. It’s your typical vaguely steampunk largely indifferent aristocratic degeneracy with a thin veil of underdeveloped religiosity. Given that it’s the main bad guy, it’d be nice to have something definite to hate. The Sleeping Dogs are a fairly standard resistance group with fairly standard biases and desperate plots, too, and the Heartland is fairly typically rustic-regressive, with their arranged marriages and small-minded local politicians. It’s not that any of these are badly done, exactly, but the blandness of them is what’s keeping this series merely good. It definitely has the potential to be great, and I would like to read more of Wendig’s work - and am eagerly anticipating the concluding volume of this trilogy - but it’s not one I’m going to return to over and over.tl;dr - A fun read with memorable, well-written characters with almost a superfluity of excellent character arcs, a nicely-balanced plot, and a fairly solid premise - this is a YA dystopia for people who don’t like YA dystopias as well as for those who do! It does get a bit gory in places, and if you have problems reading about characters struggling against homophobia, you may want to skim a couple of pages.
    more
  • Michael Hicks
    May 25, 2014
    [This review is based on an advanced copy received by the publisher through NetGalley.]Blightborn, the latest release from the ever-prolific Chuck Wendig, and second in his cornpunk The Heartland Trilogy, follows swiftly on the heels of Under The Empyrean Sky‘s conclusion.With the world building out of the way, and many of the main cast’s rivalries set up in Empyrean, Blightborn allows Wendig to go hog-wild and blow stuff up, upend expectations, and expand on the premise of The Heartland series [This review is based on an advanced copy received by the publisher through NetGalley.]Blightborn, the latest release from the ever-prolific Chuck Wendig, and second in his cornpunk The Heartland Trilogy, follows swiftly on the heels of Under The Empyrean Sky‘s conclusion.With the world building out of the way, and many of the main cast’s rivalries set up in Empyrean, Blightborn allows Wendig to go hog-wild and blow stuff up, upend expectations, and expand on the premise of The Heartland series in fine fashion.When last we saw the intrepid crew of the sky ship Betty- SPOILERS for Under The Empyrean Sky - Cael had learned that his father was illegally growing fresh produce and had killed the mayor. His girlfriend, Gwennie, was a lottery winner and elevated, along with her family, to live aboard one of the Empyrean’s floating cities and escape the hardscrabble life of the dirt-farming Heartlanders. Needless to say, Cael wasn’t going to let that happen without a fight, and he and his teenage crew of Blue Sky Scavengers set out to cross the desolation of the Heartland and, somehow, win her back. Unfortunately, that ticked the hell out of his Obligated bride-to-be, and the dead mayor’s son, and rival to Cael for Gwennie’s affections, had an awful large score to settle.Returning to these characters in Blightborn, Wendig delivers fully on the conflicts established at the close of book one, and creates even larger obstacles for his cast to contend with, while driving new wedges between them. As expected, the Empyrean’s lottery is a double-edged sword: the promise of elevation too good to be true, and it comes wrapped in the caul of class-warfare. As Gwennie quickly learns, life in the Empyrean sky is hardly a joy, and even less so for a pure-bred Heartlander like she and her family, who are separated, exiled, and forced into labor.Beneath the floating flotilla, Cael and his friends are trying to make it to a loading depot, with grand designs of boarding a sky ship (after losing Betty in the previous book) and making their way upward. Along the way, they are beset by raiders, Boyland’s crew, a murderous hobo who wants to catch the wanted trio (they’re considered terrorists by the Empyrean overlords and have a hefty bounty hanging over their heads), and the blight, a ravenous disease that stems from the genetically modified corn fields that cover the Heartland. All of this ties neatly into a bit family history that Cael is unaware of and provides some terrific background to his now-absent parents, which helps to fuel and shape his own quest and place in the Heartland.Wendig is an author who has been on absolute fire of late. His Miriam Black books are among some of the finest paranormal thrillers I’ve had the pleasure to read, and Mookie Pearl from The Blue Blazes (watch out for subtle nod toward that book early on in Blightborn!) was a fun new character whose return I’m greatly looking forward to later this year in The Hellsblood Bride. The Heartland series is a wonderful departure from either of those previous series, and, in some ways, proves to be a bit darker and deeper. While Miriam’s visions of death and ordeals with serial killers isn’t exactly light-weight stuff, there’s a buoyant flippancy to that series, thanks in large part to her natural sarcasm that lends for a natural sort of humor. There are far less funny shenanigans, wry observations, or witty back-and-forths in this cornpunk entry, but that’s life in the Heartland.Wendig is focused more on exploring the struggles of a violent class warfare and food politics. That’s not too say the read is dry and dreary – far, far, far from it. Rather, it simply strikes me as, tonally, a more serious work, and that tone grows naturally from the characters and the world they inhabit, as well as the threats they face. It’s dark story of survival and impossible odds.One thing I appreciated was the increased focus on the female cast members, particularly Gwennie and Cael’s sister, Merelda. The two find themselves on opposite ends of the social spectrum, with the latter having become the mistress of the flotilla’s chief security officer and hiding her true Heartlander roots. Their roles are necessarily expanded after having gotten a bit of a short-shrift in the previous book, but they shine nicely in Blightborn, and it was great to see Gwennie so prominently in on the action (especially since she’s the one who taught Cael how to throw a punch!). I won’t spoil her role in the book, but she does carry a lot of the thematic weight mentioned earlier in regards to the class struggle, and it’s juicy stuff.Blightborn is a heftier, more serious work than its predecessor, and Wendig is clearly crafting an epic trilogy of terrific scope with this series. It’s also quite a bit darker, which is pretty common in middle entries – the stakes are higher and the threats more formidable. The Initiative, which is teased a bit before finally being revealed in the book’s third act, is a horrifying manipulation that perfectly illustrates the evil and grandiose ego of the Empyrean rulers, and their sense of entitlement. Wendig has also planted a good number of compelling seeds that will bear beautiful fruit come book three. I’d expect the conclusion of this story to release next year, but damn if that’s not going to be a long, brutal wait. Alas, that’s life in the heartland.
    more
  • Magda
    July 20, 2015
    See this and other reviews at: https://maginibooks.wordpress.com/201...Here we are at the second book of the Heartland Trilogy (well, 3rd if you count the short story) and it’s even better than the first. We’ve got it all here. All of our heroes plus some new interesting characters. We see the lives of those at the top, the bottom and even the gray independent area. I have to admit I didn’t expect too much to be happening.But let’s get to some basics and let me warn you – if you haven’t read the See this and other reviews at: https://maginibooks.wordpress.com/201...Here we are at the second book of the Heartland Trilogy (well, 3rd if you count the short story) and it’s even better than the first. We’ve got it all here. All of our heroes plus some new interesting characters. We see the lives of those at the top, the bottom and even the gray independent area. I have to admit I didn’t expect too much to be happening.But let’s get to some basics and let me warn you – if you haven’t read the first book, this review will contain some spoilers from it. If you have read it, you have nothing to worry about.I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.With our heroes spread all over the world we’ve got some switching of perspective. It’s especially noticeable in the first chapters when author jumps from Gwennie to Cael and to Boyland.Gwennie and her family are now on one of the sky flotillas. But it seems the lottery they’ve won wasn’t much of a blessing. All the luxuries they were promised, the happy new life on flotilla were a lie. Each member of the Shawcatch family was separated, taken to some other family and jobs. Gwennie intends to find them and take them back home. But how can she do that being trapped in her new protector’s home, cleaning up his stables, being cut off from information?Cael wants to get to flotilla to find Gwennie. It doesn’t matter for him that the lottery promised her a good life, he needs her with him, misses her. He will do anything to get Gwennie back. Right now he’s speeding together with his crew to the closest provisioning depots. He wants to sneak onto one of the transport ships. He and his friends will find way more than what they’ve bargained for.Boyland, together with Wanda and others, were hired by Agrasanto to catch the escapees – Cael and his crew. The problem is they all have their own agendas.That’s just a tip of the iceberg. Everything that’s happening all over the world. And I only mentioned people we’ve met in the first book.I admit, the story might seem a little slow at times, but there are a lot of details and plot the author put into this book. The world he crafted was well thought through. The places, the people, it all fits in together. It’s true the book is almost 200 pages longer than the first one and I had moments of weakness when I’ve started reading something else, but I’m not saying it’s boring. There’s no way you’ll get bored reading this book. You have to stay on track not to miss anything or you’re lost.Our heroes will have some tough decisions to make. They will go through some changes that will affect their lives. Some will find what they wished for. Some will have to completely rethink their future.What bothered me a little was that apparently Gwennie, Wanda and even Merelda were irresistible for most men around them. Suddenly people want them, care for them, protect them. I don’t really like when authors create those irresistible characters for no reason. If there only was an explanation, but there,s none here. Let’s take Sookie Stackhouse – she’s also one of those loved-by-all characters, but author managed to give a reason for that. In Blighborn those girls seem completely normal, yet so many boys and men wants them.Right now I’m already thinking of reading the last book. No NetGalley this time as they’ve already archived this book before I managed to request it, but I’m going to buy it and read it and let you know what I thought about the end of this trilogy. I have to know how will it all end.
    more
  • Tom
    July 25, 2014
    'Cael McAvoy dreams of flying....Sometimes the dream is interrupted by the reality of falling'When we left Cael McAvoy in Under The Empyrean Sky, volume one in this trilogy, his reality had well and truly fallen apart.Life in the Heartland, an arid expanse dominated by genetically modified corn production, endured by overworked quietly desperate humanity, and overseen by the remote repressive Empyrean from their floating cities in the sky, had thrown up some surprises for Cael, his family and fr 'Cael McAvoy dreams of flying....Sometimes the dream is interrupted by the reality of falling'When we left Cael McAvoy in Under The Empyrean Sky, volume one in this trilogy, his reality had well and truly fallen apart.Life in the Heartland, an arid expanse dominated by genetically modified corn production, endured by overworked quietly desperate humanity, and overseen by the remote repressive Empyrean from their floating cities in the sky, had thrown up some surprises for Cael, his family and friends.After a dramatic turn of events, Cael, Lane Moreau and Rigo Cozido are on the run when we join them at the start of Blightborn. The formidable resources of the Empyrean are being marshalled by Proctor Simone Agrasanto. Pursuit will be ruthless and relentless.Just as the three amigos seem on the verge of eluding trouble, author Chuck Wendig works his magic and expertly ratchets up the tension and injects some juicy dollops of drama.He also introduces some new characters who add extra layers to the story. In particular, we get to see inside Empyrean society, and gradually learn more of the origins of both these lordly sky dwellers and the lowly Heartlanders far below.Boxelder we learned in the previous instalment had 'the tavern, the Tallyman's office, the doctor's, the general store, - and, beyond that, not much else but the swaying corn'.Ormond Stirling Saranyu, one of the flying cities, on the other hand is a place of mansions and opulence. 'The afternoon sun caught in a hundred skyscraper windows. The many hills with their many homes. Skybridges and elevator conduits.' 'Everything clean. Cloud swept. Beautiful. Nothing like the Heartland'.Not everyone in the dirt below is happy to accept that the Empyrean 'have everything where we have nothing' or that they must be resigned to the drudgery and hopelessness of life as they know it: 'The dead earth. The empty sky. The gods in their chariots above the peasant's heads.'Unrest is brewing in the Heartland. But the Empyrean also have their own plans. An epic clash is inevitable.As change unfolds Cael McAvoy, Lane Moreau, Rigo Cozido, Merelda McAvoy and Gwennie Shawcatch are front and centre in events.Joining them are some memorable new friends - as well as an array of sinister new enemies. Telling which is which is not always easy.This second part of the trilogy then is even better than the first. The action occurs in a number of places, not just Boxelder. More is revealed of how this world came to be as it is, but not everything; mystery remains for part three. Female characters feature prominently in all of the story's plots and subplots - and as could be expected from the writer of the 'Miriam Black' books, these women are strong, independent and resourceful.Most importantly the essence of Blightborn hinges ultimately on human relationships and change, growing up and trying to find out who we are - themes to which all of us can relate. The characters live in a world which like our own is not black and white, a complex world where change happens even when we don't want it, and not always in the way we like even when we do want it. Confusion, doubt and even fear trouble all of the protagonists in this book at some stage - and those who are the most certain and definite are some of the least likeable.The book has great pace, a compelling storyline, beguiling characters, tension that's almost torture, satisfying depth, seriously sizzling dialogue and some wise reflections on human nature and the vagaries of life and love.Part three of the series is eagerly awaited!
    more
  • Aurora Dimitre
    August 26, 2014
    ~This book was won from a Goodreads Giveaway~I started the review for the first book with 'oh my god' and, somehow, this one is even more 'oh my god.'To start with, this book is about a 150-200 pages longer than the first book, with seriously smaller font, which was cool. As well as that, the first book mostly has Cael's POV - there are a couple of other POVs here and there, but it's almost exclusively Cael - and this book spread out so that we got more Gwennie, more Lane and Rigo, more Wanda, ~This book was won from a Goodreads Giveaway~I started the review for the first book with 'oh my god' and, somehow, this one is even more 'oh my god.'To start with, this book is about a 150-200 pages longer than the first book, with seriously smaller font, which was cool. As well as that, the first book mostly has Cael's POV - there are a couple of other POVs here and there, but it's almost exclusively Cael - and this book spread out so that we got more Gwennie, more Lane and Rigo, more Wanda, as well as more of characters that we hadn't met in the first book.My favorite character remains Lane. I just. I just really adore him. He went through some stuff in this book and it made me sad, but I really adore him. He's kind of that Peter McVries character, where he's all over-the-top and just wonderful. Agh. As well as that, Rigo was lovely, and I did grow more attached to Gwennie and a few others than I was in the first book. Cael... stayed mostly the same in my mind. The interesting character to me was Merelda. From the little we see of her in the first book... I was kind of expecting someone different. But I was surprised. Not sure if it was a good sort of surprise or a bad sort of surprise. Plot-wise, this thing is so much more complicated than the first book. There's a lot more going on - the book often rotates between what's going on in the Empyrean, to what's going on in the Heartlands, with the occasional 'Boyland and Wanda and others' or something of the sort. I honestly liked Cael, Lane, and Rigo's parts the most, but that's just because I like their characters the most. Gwennie is definitely a badass though. Serious respect for that girl. (view spoiler)[ Spoilery section because I really need to talk about some stuff. First of all, I did like that Lane finally came out to Cael. He came out to Rigo at the end of the last book, but held off on Cael for a few different reasons. I mean, I guess the situation was not ideal when Lane did come out to Cael, because it was sort of forced, with the whole Killian thing. Who, by the way, I could not stop picturing as that attractive guy from that Once Upon a Time TV show, and it was distracting. But the Killian and Lane thing mostly made me sad, because Lane really doesn't have much to hold onto except his friends and his idea of the Sleeping Dogs, and when Killian... yeah. Yeah, Lane made me sad. (hide spoiler)]Since I read this immediately after finishing the first book, I didn't have to get used to the writing style, which is still sort of different than what I'm used to reading. I think it worked well for the story, though. I mostly just really need book three. Like, right now basically.
    more
  • K Orion Fray
    July 25, 2015
    Book twooo! I continue to be way too excited to read this trilogy. I’ve waited so long… *sniff*But particularly after where book one left off, I was particularly interested in what was going to happen next. (Note: spoilers for book one below the cut, because it is literally impossible to talk about book two without giving away pieces of book one.)Leaving off on the fact that Gwennie was going up to the flotilla after winning the lottery was SUCH a cliffhanger. I mean, aside from the entire Oblig Book twooo! I continue to be way too excited to read this trilogy. I’ve waited so long… *sniff*But particularly after where book one left off, I was particularly interested in what was going to happen next. (Note: spoilers for book one below the cut, because it is literally impossible to talk about book two without giving away pieces of book one.)Leaving off on the fact that Gwennie was going up to the flotilla after winning the lottery was SUCH a cliffhanger. I mean, aside from the entire Obligation Day disaster. So not only do we have the added complication of Boyland and Wanda, now Gwennie is off in the sky to boot.However, now that we have a character in the sky (that isn’t Cael’s sister) this means that we finally get to see the Empyrean from their own vantage point. (Kinda.) That over all else I think is my favorite part of this book in particular. We’ve established the way the Heartlanders see the Empyrean, but we don’t get a chance to see them from their own perspective. Particularly with the introduction of Balastair, we start to see the other side of the story. (I adore Balastair. And Erasmus. Sigh.) Winning the Lottery isn’t everything Gwennie was hoping–but she finds very early on that there’s a familiar face on this flotilla, and maybe–just maybe–they’ll be able to help.Meanwhile on the ground, Cael is determined to find his way to Gwennie–and Boyland is determined to not make his path easy. Hobos, raiders, the Sleeping Dogs…and all the while Cael has his own problem brewing. One he has no idea how to solve…or if there is a way to do such.This is the perfect example of what a second portion of a trilogy should be. It expands into more conflict, questioning who the real enemy is, and sets up the ultimate conflicts–the ones we aren’t sure can be solved. As much as I love to believe that regardless of anything, the protagonists will come out fine in the end…I’m not sure what exactly “fine” looks like in this world. I’m not positive that everyone’s going to make it out of this.And I LOVE it.There are so few books that really make me question whether or not it’s all going to end the way we want it to. I want Cael and Gwennie to have a happy ending. I want Wanda to find happiness somewhere (else). I want good things for Balastair. I want so many things…and I’m not sure any of them can happen. Any time I can be that in the dark about the ending of a book, I’m pleased.Besides, the end of this book is an AMAZING cliff-hanger. Talk about not knowing how things are going to turn out.I’ll keep this one short because NO SPOILERS. Phew.Rating: **** (Recommended)
    more
  • Searska GreyRaven
    June 11, 2015
    Ugh, alright, I'm dreading this review. I withheld judgement on the these books because I didn't want to judge the whole trilogy based on the first book, but I barely made it through the second and I don't think I'll be getting the third.First, the good:It honestly is a fantastic concept and mostly well-developed world. The descriptions, the world building, were all fantastic and engaging. For the most part, I never felt the plot was predictable or the result of an ass-pull. And that makes the s Ugh, alright, I'm dreading this review. I withheld judgement on the these books because I didn't want to judge the whole trilogy based on the first book, but I barely made it through the second and I don't think I'll be getting the third.First, the good:It honestly is a fantastic concept and mostly well-developed world. The descriptions, the world building, were all fantastic and engaging. For the most part, I never felt the plot was predictable or the result of an ass-pull. And that makes the second half of this review so hard. I did, truly, like the idea. There was so much awesome in the world Wendig built, but...The bad:The characters. Even taking into account the teenage level of many of the characters, they all fell flat, some more than others. Some of them had depth, but they were all peripheral characters and, appallingly, all male. Not a single female character in this book was well-developed. What's worse, they all fell into stereotypes of the same tired patriarchal tropes: the dutiful wife, the whore, the tomboy-who-might-as-well-be-a-boy. Their sole purpose was to provide conflict--in the form of "who's gonna boink this or that one." The only female character not involved in some love triangle or as merely window dressing was an antagonist. -_- Which leads right into the second problem: the sexism. Maybe this blindsided me so badly because, as an avid follower of Wendig's blog, I expected something less casually and blatantly sexist. It wasn't just the caricature female characters, it was the *attitude* of the male characters, the disdain for "women's work," or deriding the male crew as "girls." It was Cael and Boyland fighting at the end, and the token "we'll let her chose one of us, but we're still gonna fight and to the victor go the spoils" attitude, and the way the male characters not only expected the female characters to fall in line, but how none of the females really had what you could call agency. They were all yanked along as the male characters decided everything. Even Gwennie, arguably the best developed female character, was pretty much reacting to the events rather than pushing them along. And she had the biggest motive of any of them to do the pushing! I get it, dystopias suck and sexism is a part of that. Dystopias tend to have a patriarchy (another tired and over-used trope), but I guess I expected more from someone with so many blog entries devoted to developing strong female characters. But bloody hell, if Mad Max can do it...I guess I just expected more out of someone I consider a kick-ass feminist author.
    more
  • Stacey Kym
    August 28, 2015
    ARC kindly provided by Skyscape via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Review Blightborn is a continuation of the Heartland Trilogy that improved to seemed to improve...somewhat. I really don't have much to say about this book either. It had a lot more love scenes in it than the previous book, it was more everything and anything. Chuck Wendig wrote this mixture of science-fiction and high-fantasy that would have appealed to me if not for the world he created...and corn. CORN! COR ARC kindly provided by Skyscape via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Review Blightborn is a continuation of the Heartland Trilogy that improved to seemed to improve...somewhat. I really don't have much to say about this book either. It had a lot more love scenes in it than the previous book, it was more everything and anything. Chuck Wendig wrote this mixture of science-fiction and high-fantasy that would have appealed to me if not for the world he created...and corn. CORN! CORN!! That blasted CORN. I really dislike it. I mean if not for it, all the problems the Heartlanders face would not exist and Cael and the rest of the gang would not be who they are, thus this book would not exist. I flew through this book as I did the previous. Its also a continuation of the previous and really expands on all the ideas that made no sense to me in the first book. We follow Cael and other various characters as all their action lead to one thing...the beginning of the ending of the Empyrean Empire. What fascinated me - don't ask me why - was that the characters were all interconnected through there knowledge of another character. They also lead paths that stem towards one thing and not various ones that make no sense; which I liked.Wendig's storytelling comes through once more in this novel. The grammar and style all flow together flawlessly. If anything, The Heartland Trilogy would have been a great children's read with all its storytelling and I wouldn't be surprised if it showed up on the Premier's Reading Challenge in Australia. Congratulations to Chuck Wendig on yet another published book! Rating Plan1 star : Strongly did not like the book, writing and plot was bad. Idea of the book was against my liking.2 star : Didn't like it, didn't find it interesting or gripping. Seemed to drag on to me.3 star : An average book. Wasn't bad or good. Everything else was well done. Original idea.4 star : Like a 3 star but has potential to it as a series or the book grew on me as it progressed and certain scenes captured me. I Enjoyed it and read it in one sitting.5 star : I LOVED IT! I stayed up late until 3 am. Author is a genius, characters, plot, idea, development, EVERYTHING was EXCELLENT. Nothing else can possibly be said except that its 5 STAR!
    more
  • Patricia Hamill
    July 13, 2015
    Book two of The Heartland Trilogy does not disappoint. The main characters from book one have been scattered by events beyond their control, and we are treated to many more perspectives as well as insight into the Empyrean itself. Myths and rumors only hinted at in book one become all too real, and new enemies and allies emerge.Again, I love the characters, but I am especially impressed by the individual struggles that each one faces and how those struggles build in to the story as a whole. Lane Book two of The Heartland Trilogy does not disappoint. The main characters from book one have been scattered by events beyond their control, and we are treated to many more perspectives as well as insight into the Empyrean itself. Myths and rumors only hinted at in book one become all too real, and new enemies and allies emerge.Again, I love the characters, but I am especially impressed by the individual struggles that each one faces and how those struggles build in to the story as a whole. Lane’s in particular was a surprise, but I thought it was well handled. I felt really bad for him, not for his choices, but for the outcome of his first experience. I don’t know how all that will turn out, but I’m rooting for him. And, of the new characters, I found Balastair to be most interesting. He’s likeable, but I can totally get why Gwennie doesn’t trust him. Oh, and Eben. Yikes, what a creepy guy. I’d go on, but I don’t want to spoil anything.As for the world building, it really takes off in this book, particularly with a good portion of the story taking place on one of the flotillas. The science that keeps the flotillas afloat, the span of the world beneath them, hints of other groups of people like the Heartlanders who have been enslaved by the Empyrean, and the depravity of the Empyrean itself. It’s fantastic. I love how each element unfolds and meshes with what has already been revealed. Oh, and don’t get me started on legends coming to life. I love it when rumors and legends turn out to be more than what they seem. I’ll leave it to you to discover which ones turn up.I guess the only thing that bugged me was the ongoing wishy washiness of the characters who are trying to decide whom to love: obligated mates, former loves/enemies, or totally new love interests. It didn’t bug me much, but I didn’t always feel it, and I left the book with more questions than I had when I entered it. Good thing there’s another book.So, for book two, yes, I love it, too. It has a lot more shock value and strife, and a lot more sexual content, though nothing all that explicit. I’d recommend this to folks who love science fiction and dystopia. I received the review copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
    more
  • Online Eccentric Librarian
    July 2, 2014
    More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Blightborn was a surprise; although I enjoyed the first Heartland book, I admittedly didn't love it. I worried that the second book would be more of the same: brash Homer Hickman type young hero fighting oppression and making a lot of mistakes along the way. However, this second book took a very dark turn by the 50% mark and had me intrigued to the end. Twisty turning plot points and unexpected events made this a thrilli More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Blightborn was a surprise; although I enjoyed the first Heartland book, I admittedly didn't love it. I worried that the second book would be more of the same: brash Homer Hickman type young hero fighting oppression and making a lot of mistakes along the way. However, this second book took a very dark turn by the 50% mark and had me intrigued to the end. Twisty turning plot points and unexpected events made this a thrilling read.Story: Cael and his small group are now outlaws, following the train tracks on a course set by his missing father. Gwennie, meanwhile, learns the dark side of the lottery as she is indentured to a brilliant but socially awkward geneticist tasked with creating a Pegasus mascot for the Empyrean. Both will encounter heartbreak, death, and danger as a group of rebels seeks to bring about the downfall of the Empyrean empire. The story is told from both Gwennie's and Cael's point of view. Gwennie becomes immersed in Empyrean politics as she tries to track down her separated family. Cael, meanwhile, discovers all the dangers out there in the corn, not the least of which are the rebels themselves. We'll learn a lot of secrets about Cael's family including his father's past and his sister's whereabouts. A host of new and fascinating characters are added but we still keep most of the Boxelder kids as well since Cael's group will be tracked by the Praetor.Admittedly, I was just coasting during the first part of the story. Reading about headstrong kids making dumb decisions wasn't the story I was interested in following. But author Wendig turns up the heat midway and suddenly there are a lot of devastating events that slowly destroy both Gwennie and Cael. As well, we get a lot of information about the world that is very inventive.I am really looking forward to book 3 and seeing where Wendig takes the story.Reviewed from an ARC.
    more
Write a review