In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart
As a reader, I rooted for different characters at different times. I found the elementary students personalities entertaining and fresh as each age dealt with problems in unique ways. I wish I was given more time to feel emotional connections to each of the characters. Even though I wanted to know how each character dealt with being inside the superstore- I didn't feel a strong connection to any character in particular. Given the fast pace of the action in the book and the fact the plot only covers 12 days I can understand why the connections didn't happen. Although this came as a disappointment it did not distract from the story. There are a few twists in the plot, some predictable others not as much. Without giving away too much, I enjoyed the different series of events that lead to the children being trapped inside a supper store.
I was happy to read that there will be a sequel coming out next year. This explains the cliffhanger ending - I finished the book thinking, "What happens? I need to know more." and ran to research if there was a sequel.
Readers who like apocalyptic novels and books such as Trapped by Michael Northtrop and the Last Survivors Trilogy by Susan Beth Pfeffer will enjoy Monument 14. With lots of action and an extremely fast pace, this novel keeps moving and will keep readers turning pages
You all know I love me some dystopian, but apocalypse books are basically the next best thing and Monument 14 is definitely one of the best I’ve ever read. Most apocalypse stories surround one main event (zombies attacking, global warming, etc.), but Laybourne just kind of throws everything at you. Yes, everything is pretty much caused by one main thing, but it ripples out into multiple disasters that are just as catastrophic. I don’t want to give too much away since the less you know the more you can immerse yourself in the story.
The writing style took a bit to get used to at first. I think the best way to describe it is stark. There are no extravagant descriptions or anything of the sort but I really think it works for the story’s advantage. It reads almost like a journal and it wouldn’t be as believable if it was written any other way.
I really wasn’t sure if I’d be able to deal with all the whiny little kids and the few (pardon my French) super douchey guys at first. I was kind of afraid it’d turn into a Lord of the Flies thing with kids eating each other or something, but it didn’t. In the end, the kids were all like a little family and I found myself laughing and tearing up right along with them. Those little kids were the best comic relief possible. It wasn’t like throwing a token funny character into the mix. Their young age and innocence made everything that much funnier.
The Nutshell If a survival story about kids trapped in a superstore interests you then go pick up Monument 14 immediately. You’ll get that and so much more. It’s about survival, yes, but it’s also about the bonds that can be formed in crazy situations between the people you’d never expect. Basically, this book is freaking awesome.
The opening scene of Monument 14 is seriously intense. It opens with Dean and Alex running for their respective buses. Normal morning of avoiding notice on the bus (yeah, I remember doing that). Then, BAM, hail the size of like cats and dogs is slamming down, and their bus is crashing. Then death and explosions and a bus driving through the glass doors of a grocery store. In a post-apocalyptic (even more than a dystopia), you need to be prepared for MASSIVE amounts of death. You definitely get it here.
What went wrong in the world to cause all these crazies? Just about everything. A super volcano explodes and sets off a tsunami that takes out the east coast. All of this craziness means the environment has gone totally WHACK, so enter hailstorms and other craziness all over the country. In case that wasn't enough, the weather loosed chemicals the government probably shouldn't have created that do seriously creepy (and varying) shit to people who encounter them. Youch. I thought that was maybe a BIT much. Anyway, very The Day After Tomorrow.
I really liked Dean as a narrator. Laybourne did a great job with him I thought. He definitely felt like a male character to me. He is smart, although not brilliant, and desperate to fit in. Being stuck in the Greenway with the kind of guys who pick on him and the popular senior he's been crushing on is a combination nightmare and dream.
There's a sense of unreality to the kids in a store plot line. There's something vaguely romantic about it, right? Freed of adults and able to eat candy for dinner or ice cream for breakfast. The reason it happens over and over again in books is that it makes a really good setting. It's an isolated little universe, and the characters put there have to redefine themselves in the context of this new group, as seen in The Breakfast Club.
Although they have their issues (drugs, overly-flirtatious thirteen year old girls, fistfights, lack of personal space, a couple bratty kids, etc.), these kids are remarkably resourceful, and do an amazing job setting up their own little community within the story. Most of their decisions were wise. They worked most things out, and I loved that they did so without coercion. They ran a better government than the real world. It was amazing that they did so well with so many little ones to take care of.
The kids also have to struggle with trusting one another. Only a couple of them were actually real life friends. Now, the fourteen of them have to learn to at least tolerate one another. They also have to decide whether they can trust anyone else. Since they have so many resources, can they afford to let people in?
I have to mention quickly two plot holes that irked me. First, why did the bus driver leave the kids in the grocery store alone?!?! I mean, I know why, but I was yelling at my computer when she did that. I mean, it was freaking hailing and she's all like 'Peace out!' Dude, if I were her, I would wait and try to check the radios or whatever in the store (like the kids were smart enough to do) without going outside. That just felt too much like it happened to move the plot along. The other thing that really annoyed me was that none of the kids mourned for any of their classmates that DIED IN FRONT OF THEM ON THE BUS. Really kids? Josie is in shock for a couple of days over her friend's death, but then never mentions her again. WTF is that?
Also, having read this so far in advance, which is not my usual style, I've had the chance to read some other reviews on Monument 14. What bothered a lot of reviewers was the portrayal of women in the book. Looking back, I definitely agree that the three women of an age to be sexual are not portrayed well at all. They did seem like fairly believable characters, but it would be nice to see a more positive attitude towards females in the next book. I think the reason I wasn't up in arms about this was that the guys don't really come off so well, either. Most of the characters are varying degrees of not awesome people.
Despite those issues, I freaking ate up all of the drama and disaster in here. Monument 14 is a fast, action-packed ride, and I will most definitely be reading more. Then ending suggests more crazy drama is in store, although I'm not really sure how I feel about where it's going. Most people loved the ending, but one of my least favorite plot points happened. Haha. It IS intense, though.
Fourteen kids are trapped in a superstore (think Walmart, or Target) and they have to learn to trust and deal with each other in order to survive. They are mean and they don’t hold their tongues back. They are tired of taking care of the little ones and the bigger ones are not exactly fan of each other.
Also, it reminded a little bit of that movie The Mist but with kids. This book would make a really cool movie.