October 10, 2013

Review: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Title: Monument 14 (Monument 14 #1)
Author: Emmy Laybourne
Release Date: June 5th, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Page Count: 294
Source: Purchased
Rating: This disaster book is pretty disastrous but isn't as thrilling as I like my post-apocalyptic books. 

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong. 

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.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

There are these two brothers who get on their school bus one morning and end up taking shelter in a superstore less than an hour later due to this crazy freak hail storm. Then after the hail storm comes the earthquake (these two natural disasters are a part of a series of natural disasters plaguing the world). This earthquake destroys this government facility where the good ol' USofA is developing chemical warfare that makes people with certain blood types behave murderously/crazily/makes them infertile. Oh, and, while this is all going down, these kids are still trapped in this superstore.

Let's break this down:

This book starts off strong. Within just a few pages, the buses are under natural disaster attack and the bloodshed begins. I don't think I was expected so much blood out of this one, but it was really realistic, fairly terrifying and just how I'd imagine something this insane would go down. 

Settling into the superstore also goes just how I'd expect it to. The adult goes for help and the older kids more or less take care of the younger ones. And then, just as I'm wondering what's going to keep these kids from finding a way out of the superstore, going home and more or less ending the book without too much more excitement, there's the toxin leak and everything goes to hell.

So basically, what I'm trying to say is, that the plot of this book is pretty insane. There were a couple of scenes where I was like: "Really?" (See the scene where our protagonist becomes a voyeur.) And I did feel like Nico was a little too prepared for everything - conveniently so. But all in all the plot worked for me. Just enough suspense, team work, gore and insanity.

There was a bit of a lull, though, in the pacing, after the kids get settled. For a bit, I kind of felt like they were just going to stay there until everything cleared up and they could go home (book two would then be about them returning home to find... whatever they were going to find). That wouldn't have been the most exciting of all endings, but it would have been okay with me. But just as I was about to get bored, the final push comes in and whoa was that plot twist was something.

What I'm trying to say, really, is that this book knows how to shake you up just when you're thinking about getting bored.

Ultimately, though, this book wasn't as character driven as I'd like. It's the events of the story that really engaged me, not the kids or their actions. The events were always ahead of the kids - they just went along with it. Until the very end, that is, when the kids really start taking control of their situation. It was almost like an AHA moment. Instead of being victims, they decided to do something besides wait out the storm. Now, they took control because certain events made them realize they had to, but it was still good and I find myself really excited for the next book in this series. I want to see what happens to all of these kids.

The long and short of it?

Plot: A strong beginning and end with a slow-ish middle. But there's lots of suspense and gore to go around.
World Building: I don't know how probable the creation of that kind of chemical warfare is. Or the odds that all of those natural disasters would happen at once. But it was scary and worked for this story.
Character Development: These kids really upped their game when they had to. I don't think I care so very much for any one of them - they mostly reacted to things instead of getting ahead of the problem, but they are kids and this is a big problem.
Prose: This is a book narrated by a boy. Which makes sense because our protagonist is a boy. And it also seemed pretty realistic to me.
Would I Recommend This Book?: If you like survival stories (like I do) - especially ones about teens being stuck places - this is definitely something you might like. But beware of the gore and more mature themes. This book doesn't shy away from the slightly more explicit side of things.

How did you feel about the slight lack of action in this one? Did you love it anyway? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. I enjoyed this one and I seriously LOVED the sequel! If you think this one is shocking, wait until you read Sky on Fire!! I was literally gasping. Emmy Laybourne really knows how to write an amazing story. Amazing review :)

  2. What I think is really interesting about this book is the fact that they get trapped in a giant SUPERSTORE. I mean, all disasters aside, that in itself is pretty darn cool and convenient! I'm still not quite sold on this one, but I'm glad it turned out okay for you!


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