Thursday, July 19, 2012

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

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Release date: June 5, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Format: Hardcover
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
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.

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.
When I was preparing myself to go to the Fierce Reads signing, I read each book written by the authors so I would be as informed as possible. (I ALWAYS do my homework!) Honestly, the book I had the lowest hopes for was Monument 14. I thought the idea was interesting enough, but it didn't spark my imagination. I read it because I felt I had to. Much to my surprise, I ended up enjoying it deeply.

The book starts right off into the action, with a huge hailstorm striking right as Dean and his little brother are riding on the bus to school. The bus driver takes the students to safety in a local superstore, a la Walmart or Target, and then leaves to find help. The fourteen children and teenagers are then left to fend for themselves, locked in a store with everything they could possibly need. Sounds like cake, right? But living through an apocalypse in a Greenway isn't all it's cracked up to be. With who knows what going on outside the store, the kids have to grow up in a short time, learning what is important to hold on to and what they have to let go.

I loved reading from Dean's point of view, partially because in YA you don't get a lot of male narrators, and I find it so refreshing, but also because he was just an interesting character to follow. He's very much a teenage boy, with fixations on girls and being cool to the popular kids, but also trying to find his way in an incredibly difficult situation. He screws up--multiple times--but his heart is in the right place and ultimately it drives him to the right decisions.

While there is only action here and there in Monument 14, I found the plot driving along quite quickly and was absorbed, wondering what was going to happen. I lived for the glances of the outside world, just as curious as the kids to find out just what was happening out there. And the ending just about made up for the lack of action in a lot of the book, with just everything happening so quickly and so unexpectedly. It made me unbelievably excited to read the sequel. I fell in love with many of the characters, especially those crazy adorable little kids, and just have to know how they fare.

Risk a paper cut? Monument 14 isn't the most action-packed of apocalyptic themed books, but it is character driven and exciting to read. I heartily recommend keeping a Band-Aid, and maybe a tissue, handy.

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