Series: Monument 14 #1
Published by Macmillan on 2012-06-05
Genres: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Source: a Giveaway
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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.
Monument 14 didn’t live up to my expectations. I’m starting to realize that I might just not be a fan of books that keep people locked up together in some sort of building for whatever reason for some unknown amount of time. For me, these books need either outstanding characters or a unique look at the breakdown of society. Otherwise I feel like it’s a bit boring or been done before. And that’s kind of how I felt about Monument 14. Here are my likes and dislikes in a bit more detail. Warning, there are some spoilers in here.
My Likes: This was a really fast read for me. I love a good end-of-the-world story and the premise on this one sounded great. Unfortunately for me, this one just fell flat. Other than the way the chemicals in the air affected them, there just wasn’t anything about this book that stood out for me. It was all just fine.
My Dislikes: Again, the thing here is that it was all just okay for me. I wasn’t attached to any of the characters. I thought Dean and Alex would become favorites of mine early on, but then Alex went missing for a while in the middle and Dean totally broke down and wasn’t any bit of the hero I’d hoped he be. Astrid, the girl Dean has a crush on, was also gone for much of the book. Jake and Brayden don’t help around the store at all and instead get high on drugs they find in the pharmacy and act like typical high school boys. And Niko holds up only okay to all of the pressures of being in charge. While I can understand why all the characters did what they did, it just wasn’t very interesting for them to be predictable, normal kids. Even the ‘bad guy’ wasn’t a surprising twist. Something a little more unique would have helped a lot.
I also felt that the book added nothing new to the apocalyptic/science-fiction genre. A giant tsunami leads to a chain of weird weather that breaks down the satellite networks that cuts off all communications. The kids hole up, luckily, in a giant department store while awaiting word from their bus driver that left early on to find help. They never have to worry about food, supplies, medication, beds, or water. It’s all just there. An earthquake then leads to the destruction of a chemical weapons storage facility and the air becomes contaminated. They turn off the AC. The kids solve each problem as it comes, argue a little, and get drunk. Except for being totally cut off from the outside world, it’s practically a dream for them. The older kids go through some emotional breakdowns and the younger kids whine for their parents, but there isn’t much more depth than that.
Overall Feelings: This one falls in the “it was a disappointment, but I’m not mad about the time spent reading it” category. There wasn’t much for me to grab on to and enjoy in this book, but it was a fast read. I wish the characters had been less stereotypical and easier to connect with. I wish the story had gone deeper. I really just wish that there had been a bit more oomph to it. There is a bit of an open ending which I thought would give readers a nice chance to sit and think about what might happen to the characters now and what they themselves might do in the same situation. But it turns out there is a sequel. Sky on Fire (Monument 14 #2) is expected out next June. And as much as I wasn’t a huge fan of Monument 14, I haven’t ruled out reading the second one. Like I said, I love a good end-of-the-world book. And maybe #2 will be it.
If you’re a fan of YA apocalyptic books where people end up stuck together in one place, you might want to give it a try. If you like your books with a bit more apocalypse drama or challenges associated with surviving the end of the world or maybe kids just annoy you, you might want to skip this one. I gave Monument 14 two stars.