51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2012
I don't know that I can say enough good things about this book. It takes place in a not so distant future where virtually all knowledge and communication is carried over The Network. Once the natural disasters start coming, the Network goes down...and fourteen survivors...fourteen children...end up trapped inside a superstore with no way to communicate with the outside world.
As many of you know...I didn't start reading Young Adult fiction until I started this blog last year (no not even when I actually was a young adult did I read YA) and perhaps due to that fact I always go into a new YA book with a bit of trepidation. Will the voice be too young for me, will I be able to relate, will it just be too teen for me...? Some YA reads really do seem to appeal more exclusively to a younger audience and others are written in such a way that they transcend age barriers and have a much wider appeal. This is definitely one such book!
First of all I can find no fault at all with Emmy Laybourne's writing style...which is always the first thing I notice when picking up a book. Monument 14 flows beautifully, the dialogue sounds authentic and I absolutely loved Dean's voice. It was distinctly male (though written by a female) yet I had absolutely no difficulty getting drawn right into the story and connecting with him.
The pacing of the book is completely perfect, with the disasters occurring outside the superstore and within, providing the perfect framework for what to me was the real crux of the story: The kids. I loved that all of the horrific events going on kept the reader constantly on edge and wondering yet didn't detract from the great interpersonal relationships that developed and grew between the children and teens as the days passed and they were forced to call upon their own individual strengths as well as depend upon each other for their physical and emotional welfare.
All of the characters were incredibly well fleshed out and multi-dimensional...in other words: I believed.The relationship between the brothers Dean and Alex was a joy to experience in all it's complexity and that between the younger siblings Caroline and Henry was precious and sweet. The psuedo love triangle between Dean, Astrid, and Jake gave the book added substance without any untoward moments or excessive drama to take away from the real story.
Sahalia perfectly conveyed that awkward stage in between being a little kid and a big kid. Jake and Brayden showed that jocks can be so much more than just that. Baptiste...well he can come cook for me anytime....even though he'll probably need a step stool to reach the sink. Chloe bugged the heck out of me, Ulysses warmed my heart, and Max kept me laughing and raising my eyebrows simultaneously. The character of Josie constantly surprised and impressed me. And I must admit that Niko...well... Niko had me at "Guys, we have to cover the front gates...right now." [I think I may have fallen a little in love with Niko.] And I think the fact that I can so easily remember all fourteen names and personalities also speaks to the author's amazing character development.
I wholeheartedly recommend Monument 14 for lovers of Apocalyptic tales (I know the majority of readers and even Publishers Weekly classify this as Post-Apocalyptic or Dystopian but I beg to differ). I did not want to put this one down until I reached the conclusion and then I was left eagerly anticipating the next book in the series.
NOTE: I recieved a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2012
MONUMENT 14 was not a book I exactly had on my radar. In fact, when I read the synopsis for this book, my first thought was of a kids' show from New Zealand called The Tribe - kids orphaned by an apocalyptic event who mostly inhabit a mall in Wellington. But that's beside the point. Besides, they dress up in funny outfits and face paint and are in a "tribe". Still, beside the point. Emmy Laybourne's book was not on my radar until a fateful tweet landed this one in my hands, and what can I say? I was pleasantly surprised.
Following Dean, a young guy thrown into the apocalypse a few years into the future while on the school bus with several other kids, MONUMENT 14 follows - you guessed it - 14 kids living in Monument, Colorado as their bus crashes into a superstore in the middle of a hailstorm. Their driver leaves to find help and never returns, but things quickly begin to spiral out of control. Freak earthquakes, chemical weapons spills, choking black clouds of gas...
I am going to admit it. My favorite part of this book was finding out what bad would befall these children. Giant hailstones! Massive earthquakes! Extreme sadness! Chemical weapons than alter minds and bodies! Okay, some of it was a bit unbelievable. The chemical weapons especially. But Laybourne totally packs a punch with the bad things that happens to these kids, and that is not the least of it.
I enjoyed the honesty of this book. From Dean's voice, which sounded almost like an ADHD-addled kid (very boy-esque), to the mental state of victims of trauma, it felt very real. At the same time, this was an issue I had. The book focused too much on the problems these kids experienced, from finding out how to survive in this brave new world to simple stuff. We find out about lice, making breakfast daily, tearing down walls. I wanted more plot, more suspense, more intrigue and action. Or zombies. Zombies would have been nice, or at least more of the last 100 pages.
One of my fave young adult books is LIFE AS WE KNEW IT by Susan Beth Pfeffer. While it comes close to matching the compelling nature of Pfeffer's work, a post-apocalyptic story about a family trying to survive the aftermath of a catastrophic worldwide disaster, it doesn't match the level. There is something off about this, but don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed it. It will just take a certain reader who enjoys the nuances of survival and doesn't need a plot to drag them through. There is a story here, but it's slow building, laden with tiny details about life and living and children and teens and the world.
My suggestion? Check this one out, but only if you go into it not expecting extreme action wall to wall, or zombies like I might have kind of thought looking at the cover... There are pseudo-zombies, but they're not eating brains. Think the Rage virus from 28 Days Later, except with more bloody boils and sterility issues.
30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2012
This is written for 13 and older however this review is coming from a mom in my 30s. I love a good dystoian book or end-of-the-world story. I really thought the back and forth bickering and just constant conversations between the kids made this book more of a teen/juvenille book. The first 3 chapters are GREAT. Then not much goes on until the last 3 chapters, which were really interesting too. But the middle was just a bunch of nothing and I ended up skimming most of it just to get through it. You learned how they functioned in a great big store and what they did with their time. I wished more was described what went on outside that we could read about. I also did not really care about most of the characters.
Lastly, even though I thought this was targeted for a younger audience than myself, there were atleast 2 situations where a sexual act was about to take place (though the written was very mild in that regard it still should be brought to other's attention). I only mention this because as in the book Ashfall, I let me 11 year old boy read the book first then I read it myself and can't believe I recommended these books to him. There were some deaths however I didn't think it was ever too gross... Language wasn't terrible - but there was some sprinkled throughout.
It was not a terrible book and the plot was very interesting but I'm glad it was only a library book that I read. Not sure I will pick up a sequel when/if it is ever released... Good young adult books I would recommend - Blood Red Road, Divergent, Graceling, Grave Mercy, and Shadow and Bone, The Testing, and In the After.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2012
I can never get enough apocalyptic stories, when I saw this book on NetGalley I jumped at the chance to read it.
From page one the book grabbed my attention and held it. I liked the idea of being trapped in a superstore (honestly, who wouldn't want to be stuck in Wal-mart if something catastrophic happened? I know I would!).
I liked the different characters in the book.
What a great ending, I really want to know what happens in book 2!
Recommended for readers 15+.
Thank you to Feiwel & Friends and NetGalley for my e-galley!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2014
I wasn't going to toss my two cents into the mix, but I didn't see anybody having the troubles with this story that I did. I thought I would add in, for people like me.
I thought the story was well enough written, by that I mean the writing was very readable. The characters were more meh, than compelling but again, the writing was good enough for me to go on reading.
The issuses I had were these.....I am NOT a science person, and if the story is interesting enough, I can give the author a pass. This was very, very tough to do with this book, however. A volcano causes a mega-tsunami that wrecks the East coast of the US. I assume it also rips up Western Europe, Cuba, Jamaica, and flattens Florida but this is not mentioned at all. This is somehow related to ginormous hail falling in Colorado? What? Which also triggers an enormous earthquake, again in Colorado? A giant wave of water triggers an earthquake in the middle of the country? Apparently not in California, or in any of the other hot spots the US has, but Colorado. Again, I am not a science person, but jeeze. And in the meantime, what is the whole rest of the world doing?
After the kids take shelter in a Walmart type store, the riot doors come down? The riot doors? Does your walmart have riot doors? Because mine sure doesn't.
But yeah, this is all fantasy, and I can wink at the holes in logic big enough to drive a fleet of 18 wheeler's through. I can even overlook the 8 year old master chef, who is a Christian and therefore judgmental and mean (although I have to say, I am exhausted of it - can you imagine the outcry if instead of Christianity getting slammed it was Islam or Judaism?)
But the deal killer is this: our hero ends up throwing away his best chance at getting out, and abandons his little brother in order to placate a girl. This particular girl has been established as selfish and mean, and self centered, and not very smart, but she does have this going for her, she's beautiful. Now, this right here is the main reason I'm writing this. How often do the girls in this country - and in the western world - need to get this message? It doesn't matter if you're smart or strong. No one cares if you're kind or creative. You can be the biggest bitch ever, but be beautiful. Just be beautiful, or else you're worthless. Yeah, I know this is the subtext, and not written right out, but it's still pretty clear. And folks, that's just wrong.
Books to read instead:
The Hunger Games Trilogy
The Scorpio Races
Moon Called (overlook the cover)
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne is a wildly entertaining cocktail of thrilling, fun, and claustrophobic. From beginning to end, this book is breathtakingly fast-paced and intense. If you're looking for a quick, summer read that is neither too heavy nor too gooey, this should be your next pick!
It all started with an eruption of a volcano on an island called La Palma - five hundred billion tons of rock and lava avalanched into the ocean. And it was only just a prelude to the complete chaos that followed suit. The explosion created a half mile tall megatsunami that would later be called "the worst natural disaster in recorded history". After that came the extreme weather condition that affected the rest of the country - supercell storms causing copious amounts of hail and strong winds. The final blow was delivered by the earthquake that ripped through the town of Monument, causing a toxic spill of devastating proportions. And the worst was yet to come...
"People in boats, people crying, people washed down rivers like logs on a log float, people washed up along with their cars and garages and trees and trash cans and bicycles and god-knows-what else. People as debris." (quote from the book)
The world is in chaos. Residents of Colorado and neighboring states are urged to stay indoors and seal all windows and doors immediately. They are told to stay put and wait for help. It is too dangerous to go out. Too late for evacuation. Not only are the roads and buildings in ruin, but there is a toxic cloud rolling through the city. Chemical warfare compounds have been breeched and everyone in a five-hundred-mile radius is at risk of exposure to its deadly fumes.
Fourteen kids find themselves trapped in a local supermarket as a deadly bio-cloud surrounds the entire town. There are no mutated monsters lurking outside, waiting to devour them. No supernatural creatures, strange abilities, ghosts or any other paranormal aspects to the story. What we have here is a group of normal teenagers and kids fighting to survive in a world ripped apart and flipped inside out. It's realistic. It's raw. It's straightforward and quite believable. Convincing enough to make you pause and wonder what would you do in a situation like that. And scary enough to send a cold shiver down your spine.
Now, while I definitely had fun reading this book and thought it was a pretty decent survival story, I can't say that I was blown away by it. It's a quick and entertaining read - fast paced, captivating and at times even heart pounding. But at the same time, it lacks depth and fails to engage the reader on a more emotional level. At least that's how I felt while reading it. The character development is minimal, which isn't really surprising considering the fact that the book is less than 300 pages long and we have fourteen characters who all play a role in the story. Plus, it obviously isn't a character driven story to begin with. But I wanted to at least be able to get to know the lead character a bit. A lot happens on the pages of Monument 14, the plot races along at a break-neck speed, people are forced to think and react fast, they need to make decisions and then take actions. And they do all that, but we don't really get to see the reasoning behind their decisions, which makes some of these decisions very hard to understand and accept. That's especially true when it comes to Dean (the lead character), who often comes across as not very bright, creepy or selfish. I found it impossible to connect with him (or any other of the characters for that matter), and the only person I actually grew attached to was Niko.
I thought the plot was pretty good, too, though I'll admit that some aspect of it made me either laugh or raise my eyebrows. For instance, I really liked the idea of the toxic gas affecting people with different blood types in different ways. What made me chuckle a bit, was the way it affected people with Type B. Out of all the ways the poisonous fume could affect them, the author chose to go with failure of reproductive organs. I mean, really? I know that to a teenage boy not being able to "get it up" is a situation just as horrible (or worse) as blistering and turning into a jelly on the inside, but still.. I thought that was pretty funny. And then there were other things - things like how the kids in the supermarket reacted to people on the outside when they came asking for help - that just didn't make sense to me. Overall, though, I thought that Emmy Laybourne did a good enough job of capturing the fear and desperation of the situation.
Monument 14 is not the best of its kind, but it's definitely not the worst either. It's a good book, with an entertaining plot line and terrifying premise. As long as you don't go into it expecting a life-changing experience, you should have plenty of fun with!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 2012
Originally posted on PrettyInFiction.com
Every one loves a good disaster story. They're fascinating and scary. Possibly scarier than any supernatural horror story could ever be, because wild weather can actually happen. It could be sunny one minute and then BOOM! A tornado strikes. You're going about your business and BAM! An earthquake. Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne tells the story of one huge, devastating natural disaster that spawns more disasters, creating possibly one of the greatest disaster stories of all time. The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, all great disaster stories, and I'd put Monument 14 right up there with them.
Monument 14 is far from your normal post-apocalyptic thriller. Laybourne takes all of the usual elements, but somehow blends them all together into something that feels fresh and new and real. From having a tech genius eighth-grader (a kid who happens to be kind of good with computers and likes to think about things logically to suppress his fear) to the six eight-and-unders (who aren't just faceless children, but each have they're very own personality and problems to deal with), the characters of Monument 14 are not the generic cardboard cutout characters from a lot of post-apocalyptic novels. The jock, the boy scout, the bully, the popular girl, the nerd. They're all there, but as you read, the labels begin to fade away. They become real people who you feel for throughout their ordeal.
Dean is a lovable, witty narrator. He tells his story in a way that makes you love him. He may not always do the right thing, but you still like him. That, I think, is the sign of a well-written character, when you can't not like them no matter what stupid things they do. In fact, all of the characters are well written. Laybourne has a way of making the characters feel so real, especially the younger kids, that it really disturbs you to think that something bad could happen to them. You begin to like all of them so much, even the ones you don't think you could ever like. You get to know these kids, and you really feel it when something devastating happens to them.
Monument 14 is also one of those rare books that I believe boys will actually enjoy. It's got action, adventure and it's fast paced and will hold their attention. The character's don't just do stupid things to propel the story along. It's a book that boys can imagine happening to them. They can think of the things they'd do in a similar situation. And I'm not saying it's not a girls book. Girls will love it, too. Trust me, Monument 14 is a fantastic read, regardless of gender.
Laybourne tells the story of the 14 survivors of Monument, Colorado in a brutal, yet still humorous, way. It's an action packed and serious read, while still maintaining a fun air about it. It kept me reading long into the night. And when I'd finally put the book down all I could think about was picking it back up and getting back to the Greenway with the kids!
Monument 14 is a great story. I might not necessarily recommend it for younger readers, but thirteen or older should be mature enough to handle it. The foul language is essentially censored by the narrator, Dean, but there is still some drug use and mentions of sex. Nothing foul or graphic, but it is still present in the novel. There is also violence and death, so if that's not something you'll enjoy, well, you know what you like and what you don't. And parents, you know what your kids can handle, but there are definitely a few good life lessons learned throughout the story. Monument 14 is a great read that I think people, young or maybe not so young, should check out.
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2013
As an adult, I really liked this book, but there was far too much adult content for this to be appropriate for teens. The drug and alcohol use didn't bother me as much, because it is a good talking point for me as a parent. The part that really bothered me was the explicit sexual content. Half way through the book there is a scene depicted that is extremely explicit. The author could have found a better way to show the relationship between the two characters without having it be so graphic. There is no way this book is appropriate for a teen, especially a young teen. The recommendation of 13+ is very wrong! There is no way I'd let me 13 year old read it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 14, 2013
I won this book and Sky of Fire, the sequel, from Stacee at the Too Fond of Books book blog with MacMillan books, thanks!
I've had this book on my to read shelf for a while because of the polarized reviews-- it seemed like people either loved it or it wasn't for them. Now that I have them in my happy hands, I devoured them from cover to cover. I am firmly in the camp of people who loved it. After scanning some other reviews, I think I have an idea of people who will love it and those who won't, and I'll get to that later in this review.
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne has a standard setup-- we are at the edge of an apocalypse for some unknown reason, and a bunch of kids are stuck in a Walmart type store and are left to fend for themselves without any grownup intervention. That said, what Laybourne DOES with this setup is what makes this book succeed. The story is told from the viewpoint of Dean, a typical teenager, who has a huge crush on Astrid (who of course is going out with the handsome jock, Jake-- isn't that always the jock's name??), and has a younger brother, who is a bit of a genius. There are other interesting characters-- Brayden, a loudmouth, Josie, a shellshocked girl, and some really striking personalities in little kids. I've never seen little kids described so originally before-- it was never hard keeping everyone straight because they were so different. It becomes clear very quickly that the rest of the world is going down the drain outside, and the kids have to find a way to deal with the events outside as well as keeping order within.
What I absolutely loved about this book was the constricted scope. We have one setting, and a bunch of very diverse personalities. As the book evolves, you see who falls apart and who doesn't, and it all makes a lot of sense. The whole time, I remember nodding to myself and thinking, yes, it would absolutely happen that way. This book reminds me of The Twelve Angry Men (the black and white version). We are given a case and a room, and the meat of the plot/story takes place within the room where all people's insecurities and strengths come out. This is more of a psychological thriller, and if you are into lots of action and physical movement in the story, this one is not for you. Because like I said, it has a standard setup, but what happens with the characters is the strength and meat of this story. At the same time, the story is lightning paced and although very cerebral in ways, I was flipping the pages like a madwoman and got through it in a few hours without stopping. Lastly, people had issues with the choice of narrator, but to me it makes perfect sense. Dean is kind of an outlier, and the "good guy" who yes, honestly, is kind of boring in comparison to the other kids, but because of that, he is a good observer, and also ends up doing things that he's not too proud of. And he also has the impartial viewpoint of really seeing the characters of other kids. To me, he was the right choice.
As people who follow my reviews, you know that I have a thing about medical stuff. OK so the blood type scenario for this apocalypse doesn't really make a ton of sense-- and who knows how people figured this out to begin with. But to be honest, the kids are getting information from the outside, and then have to work with what they know-- no one really knows what's going on, so I'm okay with the nebulousness of the setup.
I'd be okay if this were a stand alone, but there is a follow up, and I immediately started that after this was done. I have some concerns because now we are widening the scope. But Laybourne has the chops to see it through, and I'm really excited to see what happens next.
Overall, a fantastic YA psychological thriller that takes place at the edge of the apocalypse with a terrific and diverse host of characters. I'll be picking up Laybourne's books from here on out.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2012
It sounds like working in the film industry really gives Emmy a different perspective to write from - and I think that comes through in her writing in Monument 14! If you're looking for that next action-packed, exciting summer read then this is one you'll want to check out!
Reasons to Read:
1.A story that draws you in from the first page:
The first thing I noticed while reading Monument 14 is that the story picks up during the first chapters; I had barely even started reading and I couldn't put it down! I thought the pacing was very well done for the length of the book, and it really doesn't slow down whatsoever- even while trapped in a superstore.
2.Excellent, evocative writing:
Similarly, Emmy's not only able to write exciting scenes but I thought she did a great job penning the story as a whole. The writing wasn't awkward and it was just descriptive enough to help you imagine the events as they were taking place. It seems like her background in film gave her a good idea of exciting writing, and how to keep a story moving along nicely.
3.A new sort of post-apocalyptic book:
There are a large number of post-apocalyptic books out now, and even more coming out in the next few months or so, but it was a pretty interesting idea to set a group of high school & elementary kids in a superstore; cut off from the rest of the world. It's a convenient setting for them, but one that works well for the book and really draws you in. With the way the book ended, I'm really curious to see how the sequel will follow the events which took place in Monument 14!
I did, however, have a few problems with the characters. I found them largely to be caricatures, and mostly lacked any real depth. I think the reason I felt them to be this way was because we didn't get any real sense of their motivations or reasons for acting the way they do, and especially for keeping the secrets they keep. I can understand that from the younger kids, but it's harder to look the other way in the case of the teens in the group. Some people are suspicious, some choose to isolate themselves, some act out and cause trouble. But we never find out WHY, and I wonder if part of th ereason for this is because there's just too many characters to follow.
But aside from that, I found Monument 14 to be a rather gripping read- definitely one that will be a quick read for a lot of readers this summer!
E-galley received from publisher via Net Galley.