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Monument 14 (Monument 14 Series) Hardcover – June 5, 2012
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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.
- Format: Hardcover
- Publication Date: 6/5/2012
- Pages: 304
- Reading Level: Age 13 and Up
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I normally would type in my favorite character at this point but it is too hard to pick. I mean Dean is great and a perfect narrator for this tale but I also love Astrid, Alex, Niko, Max and Jocie. It is just too hard. I'm going to go with Dean though because it is his point of view and his story right now. I have to say that I just love Max's stories. Now that kid has a life I want to know more about.
I would recommend this book to any of my dystopian loving friends and I have recommended it to co workers. I just really loved it.
After the major conflict in the story happens (the hail storm), the main character and a group of children are trapped in what I pictured to be like a Wal-Mart. Up to that point, and I had no trouble with the plot or even the lack of character development. In those short chapters, there are so many characters shot at the reader that I stopped at chapter 13 and still don’t know who everyone truly is. There is a serious lack of developing a solid and interesting narrator, and there is a lack of character tags. Perhaps, not spitting out so many different characters out at once would have eased that issue some.
The story also seems to be more plot driven than character driven. The story seemed to have relied on that huge opening scene with the hail storm, but the story dropped down from there. After that opening conflict, what usually keeps me interested or keeps me reading is the narration, however, this narrator didn’t keep me hooked. The narrator himself is poorly developed and it seems like, for the sake of letting the reader know what is going on, the writer interrupts the narration to give these sort of “by the way this is what is happening” moments.
However, I managed to pull through the narration to get further into the story for the sake of seeing how the writer drew out the rest of the story. Unfortunately, I was taken further and further out of the story the more I read. Now, I get that this is not a true story and has a science fiction taste to it. However, some things in this story seemed unrealistic or unbelievable (and I am not referring to the actual devastating event that took place).
What I mean is that some of the dialog seemed forced and the writer seemed to want to so desperately have a pun that it just ruined her dialog. One example of this is the man outside the Greenway wanting to get in. We are told that further along that this man outside seemed to have been exhibiting the same type of “rage” that the main character went through. What makes this part unrealistic and somewhat contradictory in the story, in my opinion, is that when the narrator “rages” we are told that he has trouble getting his words out when he tries to communicate to his brother. As a matter of fact, the narrator doesn’t speak when he “rages.” We are only told his thought of how he wants to punch and beat someone. If the main character is unable to talk here, how is the “gate rattler” able to dish out full sentences? Also, apart from that seeming contradictory to the effects of the “raging.” The “Wolf and the three little pigs” reference by the “gate rattler” was one of the dialogs that I am referring to that seemed forced in order to put a pun in the story. In addition to that scene seeming unrealistic, the writer just drops the conflict with the gate rattler. We hear no more about him. It seems like the writer didn’t want to go into the trouble of explaining what happened to him. Instead, she has the main character begin to sing to get the children to leave the gate where the rattler is (another action that seemed unrealistic or forced). Somehow, the children are able to ignore that someone wants to kill them. In fact, everyone forgets that someone is outside wanting to kill them and they all leave and are asleep in the next chapter. This was an issue for me to simply overlook.
Other issues that kept me from continuing on with the story were that the characters don’t seem to give a damn about Astrid after she disappears and hides in the store. No one (up to the point where I stopped reading) ever decided, “Hey maybe we should form a search party and look for her.”
Instead, there was a Ceremony, an Election, and the cleaning of the store (all of which are far more important than someone missing/gone). I found Josie’s sudden jump back into reality unrealistic and forced as well. She suddenly is okay and decides to take control. Not only that, but after she does and gives her demands (a ceremony and an election) NO ONE repeals the idea. Not one person says, “That’s stupid. There’s people dying out there and you want to have a ceremony and an election.” Everyone agrees to it, considering we know the group for contradiction each other. Example – Batiste’s constant fights with Chloe. It felt like the writer did not want to trouble herself with children arguing about what to do anymore and just decided they would all just think the idea is a good one. Don’t get me wrong, with rightful justification or explanation as to why everyone agreed the two ideas would have seemed okay.
And, the last thing that sort of drew me out of this story was the fact that these kids were all experts (I’m exaggerating) at something. The way they suddenly realized that the story’s air conditioning could be letting in toxic chemicals surprised me. The way they were able to seal the air conditioning vents surprised me. The way an eight year old boy appeared to cook so much better than me surprised me. I simply didn’t find these “children” to be “children enough” if that makes sense, and that was what drew me away the most from continuing to read. Again, I made this purchase to get an idea for how to write myself to this type of audience or this type of genre, and it seems like there were ways in which this story could have been told that would have kept my attention better. This story may work for the audience that it is written for, but just didn’t work for me.
This was a nice, quick and easy read and one of the reasons I read YA apocalyptic books more than any other audience or genre.
It wasn't a full five because I'm not sure that it's the type of book I will be thinking about long after I'm done, but I will definitely read the sequel.
REASONS IT'S NOT A FIVE
1) There were really no surprises. Even the couple little ones were fairly predictable. For something to blow me away, I'm looking for things that truly take me by surprise.
2) I thought the sexual stuff in here was a little over the top and a little strange. The thing I can appreciate about it is that it's probably pretty accurate. I sort of made the mistake of having my 13-year-old son read it before me and even though I wouldn't have forbid his reading it, I'm not sure that I would have pushed it on him either.
3) I spent the first third of the book not really liking Dean, our protagonist, but he did grow on me. Some of the other characters annoyed the crap out of me, but to be fair, they were probably realistic.
There was some drug use, but I thought it was handled well.
One of the reasons this story was so amazing was because if you were trapped in a post apocalypse, wouldn't you want to be trapped in Walmart? I loved what they did to survive and seeing them use all the supplies. You would think that would be boring, but it wasn't.
Like I said earlier, this was just plain fun and easy to read. Sometimes I need those to reset my "read" button and remember why I like to read in the first place. No agendas, just plain fun.
Alex, smart little bugger. Love those kinds of characters.
The twins - I'm a sucker for cute little twins who look after each other and miss their mama. The end scene with them almost brought me to tears. The last scene between Alex and Dean DID bring me to tears. I had to put the book down for a minute just to do the weird sobby cry for a minute and then I continued.
Niko - He's pretty annoying at first, but he grows on you.
All in all, great read. I've had it on my shelf for a long time. Not sure why I didn't read it earlier. It's exactly the kind of book I read.
P.S. What exactly happened to Jake and what did he see on the wall? People need to know here!
However, the story is riveting and the characters are very believable! I really hope nothing like this disaster befalls us! The scary part is that it really could happen! It's a volcano eruption that starts a series of natural disasters that we have seen on a smaller scale already, so it is very believable! And plausible! Chillingly so!
Time to ready my disaster bag and include some good gas masks! And don't forget duct tape! Never forget the duct tape!