Monday, June 2, 2014

Review: Monument 14 - Emmy Laybourne

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
Series: Monument 14 #1
Genre: YA, post-apocalyptic
Published on June 5, 2012
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 294
Read From: 5.16.14 - 5.17.14

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.


Cover Blurb: Yes or No? I like it well enough, though it's a teeny tiny bit dull. I don't know why I feel that way; I just do.

Characters: Did I attach to anyone? No. Why? Well, a lot of reasons - mainly, they were all pretty cookie cutter or caused their own problems. And they were so teen - or, in the case of the kids, mostly whiny little brats. I didn't mind our protagonist Dean; he actually seemed like a pretty decent guy. Um, I didn't get attached to him, either, though. Or his brother Alex, though out of all of them, Alex was probably my favorite. He was smart and mature and didn't get involved in the teenage drama. I hated the two jocks - Jake and Brayden. Even when the Author tried to redeem them just a smidgen, it didn't work for me. I hated them to the very end, and I won't miss them if they never turn up again. Nico was all right; he took on the role of leader and I liked his practicality. The girls, though! I tried to like a lot of them, but I couldn't. Astrid was too emotional, Josie wasn't much better (less emotional, at least), and Sahalia, the thirteen-year-old slut, just needed to go. At best, the characters were just models with cliche high school personalities that populated the book for Readers. There was no attachment, no affection, no caring what happened to them.

The Romance: Dean has a crush on Astrid - he always has. But Astrid is with Jake; has slept with him, in fact, and continues to do so. Nico likes Josie, but Josie - for whatever reason - goes for Brayden (seriously; the dude is the biggest jerk on earth!). Sahalia will sleep with any guy who notices her, regardless of age. The romance didn't necessarily take up all of the plot, but it took up enough to be rather annoying. Especially since I didn't like any of the pairings and it was all about lust.

Plot: When Dean boards the school bus that morning, he doesn't expect the world to end. But a massive freak hailstorm causes the bus to crash into a superstore, and the kids - high schoolers and middle graders alike - have to camp out inside while disasters escalate. Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcano eruptions, and finally a chemical warfare establishment melts down, releasing a toxic black cloud that makes it impossible for anyone to go outside without dire consequences. During a disaster like this, everyone should ban together to fight for survival. But high school drama continues, as two boys fight for control over the group and old petty concerns continue to boil over. Sadly, Monument 14 does focus quite a bit on the continued high school drama, with just enough natural disasters to keep it from getting boring. Yes, one does have to talk about strife and the difficulty of getting along when it comes to suddenly being thrust with a group of people you have to survive with. But a little less high school drama would have been nice. Less romance, less jocks picking on the outcasts, less screaming kids (I think that's why I hated the kids so much; they were always crying!!!), less girls behaving like sluts (i.e. Sahalia. That girl took every opportunity she could to be slutty). That said, I enjoyed a lot of predicaments the natural disasters caused; the general struggle of trying to survive. It was just interesting enough that I didn't get bored.

Believability: Well, the science behind the chemicals was a little . . . convenient. The chemicals attacked blood type, and depending on one's type, it could affect you in different ways. You could have hallucinations, break out in life-threatening blood blisters, or turn into a crazy, violent almost zombie-like creature. And conveniently, there was also a blood type that it didn't affect beyond making that person infertile. This made it easy to know who could go into dangerous situations without dying - or killing everyone else - and who needed to be tied up. I'm not necessarily disputing the science, but it felt a little like a convenient way of categorizing everyone.

Writing Style: First person, past tense. I tried to read Monument 14 when it first came out. However, I hated the narration style. I assumed that the protagonist was a girl, because you actually never find out Dean's name until about 25 pages in, and I didn't get that far. Up until that point, there's no indications towards what gender the protagonist is, and the narration style didn't fit a guy. I read further this time, and once I realized that Dean was a guy, the narration made sense. It still isn't my favorite; there's a lot of similes that don't quite work, and it can be quite choppy. But I tolerated it more this time through.

Content: Dean finds Jake fondling Astrid (pg. 150) and it's not exactly un-graphic. Astrid sleeps with Jake, Sahalia is almost raped, as well as just behaving totally inappropriate 24/7, and Jake and Brayden are constantly making lewd jokes. I just found it downright disturbing that high-school age guys noticed a thirteen-year-old girl.

Conclusion: Monument 14 will never be the best post-apocalyptic book I have ever read, but it did end where I wanted to find out what happened next, and I found it - overall - relatively entertaining. Just don't expect to like any of the characters.

Recommended Audience: Guy-read, eighteen-and-up, fans of post-apocalyptic.  

Others in This Trilogy:
1)Monument 14
2)Sky on Fire
3)Savage Drift


  1. Hey Mara, I tagged you for a fun little blog challenge! You can find the info here:


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