Title: Monument 14
Author: Emmy Laybourne
Genre: YA Dystopia
Series: Monument 14 (Book 1)
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages
ISBN-10: 0312569033 (MacTeen)
ISBN-13: 978-0312569037 (MacTeen)
Reviewed by: Emmy
Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.
Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.
But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.
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.
Quick & Dirty: This novel makes the reader question what role they’d play in an apocalyptic world. Though it has an action packed beginning and end, the lack of answers and suspense in the middle turn the large cast of characters into the focal point.
Opening Sentence: Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus.
We meet Dean when an ever normal day turns disastrous. It’s a pretty thrilling first chapter — monster hail and deaths — but after 50 pages the book slows down. Slows to the point where the characters are basically playing house inside a giant Target. While it’s fun to see everything living inside a superstore has to offer, the characters aren’t very distressed. Which, frankly, they should’ve been. When you have kids of all ages living inside a giant store, I find it hard to believe they’d all just settle down after such a traumatic event. And more of them are happening, megatsunamis and massive storms, that neither the readers nor the characters understand. While that bit of mystery is realistic and intriguing to a point, I really really want to know what’s going on.
There’s a huge cast of characters in this novel, but they’re all so well fleshed out that it’s easy to distinguish them. Sometimes, the secondary characters are more interesting than our hero, but I think that’s part of the point. In this novel, our hero isn’t the most handsome guy on earth — he’s normal. Which we don’t get enough of in YA, in my opinion. Laybourne tried really hard to make all the characters in Monument 14 real without devoting too much time away from our main character, and she did a great job of it.
My biggest problem was with Dean, our not-so-standard hero: I kept forgetting he was a guy. For the first few pages you don’t even know his gender until some POV switching happens, but even once I did I kept forgetting. He isn’t the most admirable character, but I think he’s the most relatable. He does everything I would do — succumb to peer pressure, deal with insecurities, make hard decisions, be jealous — and it draws the reader deeper into the story.
When the action picks back up about 50 pages from the end it almost makes up for the lack of suspense through 80% of the book. All the terrifying events that have happened look more like inconveniences because the suspense that should be there is so absent, but there’s a lot about the tension Laybourne added into this book I didn’t really understand. It’s a psychological thriller of sorts, making the reader wonder if they’d rise to the occasion or end up smoking pot in the sports section.
I know it sounds like I have a lot of negative feelings towards this book, but I think the problem is I just didn’t get the “What happened?” question answered that frustrates me. I enjoyed the male POV when I remembered he was, in fact, a guy as well as the way the novel makes the reader question themself. A very fast read with an ending that rocked my world.
“Jeez, man, this stuff is dark,” he said, reading it to himself.
“You’re such a jerk, Brayden!” I shouted. “How can you still be this immature?”
“Brayden, drop it,” Jake commanded.
“Don’t you want to know what it says about you, Simonsen?”
“I SAID DROP IT!” Jake shouted.
Brayden jumped. We all did.
Jake was standing, squared off to Brayden, with his hands in fists. His good-natured smile was gone. He was pissed.
“Whatever,” Brayden said and tossed the notebook to the end of the aisle.
“You gotta learn when to lay off, man,” Jake said with a rumble.
“Dude, I apologize,” Brayden said to Jake, palms turned up in an appeal. He shrugged. “For real. Sorry.”
Did I call Brayden a dick under my breath as I scrambled over the fallen books to retrieve my journal?
Of course I did.
Monument 14 Series:
1. Monument 14
FTC Advisory: Fewel and Friends/Macmillan provided me with a copy of Monument 14. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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