October 9, 2012

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Title: Monument 14
Author: Emmy Laybourne
Ships launched: 738
Pages: 304
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Year published: 2012
Genre: Thriller, Drama, Apocalyptic
Synopsis: 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.

When I first read the synopsis for Monument 14 on Goodreads a few months ago, I was intrigued. I've read dozens of stories about characters struggling to survive in the harsh brutality of fictional apocalypses, but a group of kids and teenagers who happen to find shelter and get to wait everything out? How would they handle it? Would all those poor little children stay safe and sound?

So, yes, the premise of this story intrigued me greatly. I was practically squealing when I found it at my library this morning, I was so excited to have found a copy. 

The story starts off quickly. There was no sign of the boring first few intro chapters that are way too common; Monument 14 was literally a page turner. Brutal buckets of hail pour down onto the streets, and many people are killed before the kids and their bus driver make it into a supermarket. Laybourne's writing seemed very fluid and descriptive to me; I could picture everything that was going on. 

Now for the characters. There were fourteen of them, as mentioned in the synopsis and hinted at in the title. 

  1. Dean - teen -  As the main character of this novel, you get to see inside Dean's head for the entire book. He seemed like a nice guy, but he wasn't perfect. He made bad decisions sometimes, and other times he stepped up to the plate and took care of everyone. I loved that he loved to read and write, and his attempts at cooking were admirable.
  2. Astrid - teen - Even though you see Astrid through Dean's eyes (let's just say he looks favorably upon her), she wasn't one of my favorite characters. I felt sorry for her, of course, but she seemed kind of weak to me. Agh! I know! She's living in an apocalypse, I'm sitting here in my comfortable home writing a book review. Who am I to judge? I just think that, compared to Josie, she didn't go through as much, and she didn't hold up as well. [mini spoiler, highlight with cursor to view:] I still don't understand why she was hiding from everyone else for such a long time. I don't get what triggered that, other than the Type O attack. Dean and Chloe went through that as well, and they came out okay. Let's just say Astrid is not my favorite character.
  3. Brayden - teen - He was a jerk. He never really stopped being a jerk, in my opinion. [another spoiler:] You could argue that he was caring and loving towards Josie, but I think he only paid attention to her because he knew Niko liked her, and Brayden didn't like Niko. Again, not one of my favorite characters.
  4. Jake - teen - At first, I had high hopes for Jake. I wanted him to be a strong, fearless leader that would keep the kids together, but he wasn't. Don't get me wrong, he had his good points, but he made some big mistakes. It didn't seem like he cared a lot of the time, either.
  5. Niko - teen - I love how socially awkward he was, and I love how much of a natural leader he was. Yes, he was flawed. Everyone's flawed. I can't stand perfect characters. 
  6. Josie - teen - She was a sixteen year old mother. Not literally, of course, but she took care of a lot of kids. She had such a natural maternal instinct, and when no one else knew what to do next she helped keep everything going. I love all of the homey touches she put on everything; those little things she did for everyone made her one of my favorite characters. 
  7. Alex - pre-teen - (sidenote: he's Dean's brother) I thought Alex was cute. He was smart and geeky and innovative and a genius, and wow, did he have good ideas. 
  8. Sashalia - pre-teen - I identified with her need to be treated as an adult (I've always looked horribly young), but I think she took things a bit too far. Of course, with everything that happens to her, I pity her tremendously. Even so, I'm not a big fan of hers. She annoyed me a bit.
  9. Ulysses - kid - This tiny little Hispanic child wormed his way into my heart. He was so lonely and scared and quiet at the beginning of the story, but when he opened up... I can just imagine his little brown eyes shining with excitement as he's gibbering on and on in Spanish. :)
  10. Batiste - kid -  I understand how he could be annoying, but I like Batiste. He seems really innocent and naive; I feel like I need to protect him. Plus, he's an eight year old that can cook. 
  11. Henry - kid - Henry was Charlotte's twin: they were both so sweet and shy and adorable and loving that I want to give them the biggest hugs imaginable and never let the poor babies go.
  12. Charlotte - kid - See Henry. ^
    They are literally exactly alike.
  13. Chloe - kid - Cute. Sweet. Adorable. I'm glad she has all of those big teenagers to take care of her and everyone else.
  14. Max - kid - Last, but definitely not least, is our dear friend Max. His bluntness and worldliness is astounding. As Dean was thinking, Max has certainly lived an interesting life.
Overall, Monument 14 was very entertaining. I really enjoyed reading it, and it was fascinating. There were some plot points that I just didn't get or like very much, and some of the characters weren't my favorite, but I did like this book. I would recommend it if you want an exciting, fast-paced read, but prepare yourself. [Questionable Scenes (spoiler-y material):] It's pretty gruesome, there's a bit of nudity, and there is an, um, attempted rape (for lack of a better word) involving a young-ish girl. 

+35 - Adorable children :')
+48 - Homey Touches - I loved how creative everyone was to make the supermarket feel cozy and comfortable!

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