Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Release Date: June 5, 2012
Feiwel & Friends
Author Information:
Website / Blog / Twitter
Survival, Dystopian
Available Formats:
Hardcover and eBook
My Shelf: Want to Buy
Buy the Book:
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Books-A-Million
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.

How can you not be interested in a story where what appears to be a normal, rather mundane day turns into a struggle to survive with the world literally falling apart around you? There are all kinds of crazy things going on in the beginning of this book: deadly, destructive hailstorms, exploding cars, and buses ramming into supermarkets, and I was immediately pulled into the story. Throw into the mix some nuclear disasters and megatsunamis, and I was hooked (yeah, survival of the fittest, baby!). It sounds like a great premise for a survival dystopian novel, right? However, while the book was quite enjoyable and entertaining, it lacked a few things that made it memorable for me.

With the beginning of the story starting out action-heavy and rather dramatic, I expected a similar kind of tone/pacing for the rest of the story. However, once the children get confined to the supermarket, things really decelerate and cool down. Survival for them comes in the form of structure and order, where everyone has chores they need to carry out, such as cooking, sorting supermarket items, and taking stock inventory. While it was impressive to read about how these teenagers and children were able to care for themselves, especially in such trying times, it lacked entertainment value. The only intense moments were intermittent fights over who would be leader of their group or relationship drama between a few of the high schoolers. These moments helped the story progress, but the slow pacing kept me from being fully invested. My favorite moments were when they were able to get information about the outside world, but unfortunately those moments were few and far between. I mean, the world is being destroyed, I want to know what is going on!  Even at the end of the book, I was uncertain of what the current situation was and the ramifications of all the disasters, but hopefully those things will be further explained in the next installment.

I found the characters to be a tad superficial. Dean was a decent male lead, and I like how the story is told from his perspective (yay for male POV!), but I found his overall emotions to be rather dull and listless. There were many times where he would be distressed or tensions would run high, but I never really felt any kind of heightened emotions myself. Also, some of the characters just annoyed and/or disturbed me. Two of the older teenagers, who should be role models for the younger children, spend most of their time either high or drunk, Dean peeps on his crush and her boyfriend getting physical with one another (the boyfriend naming her boobs = super distasteful), and one girl is so desperate for male attention she usually is flashing some kind of feminine body part. While personality flaws like this worked well with creating dramatic moments and establishing character dynamics, they did not make me particularly care for any of the characters. To me, the characters were ordinary and… just there. I had a pretty strong disconnect to almost all of them throughout the novel, and I think they should have been fleshed out a bit more.

One other aspect to the book I want to mention is the writing style. While it did not bother me, I can see how it would grate on others. Laybourne has a very simplistic prose, and she mainly uses basic sentence structures and does not delve too far into emotions and explicit details. This is in no means a bad thing, and I personally attributed her prose style to the fact that the story is told from a teenage male’s perspective, but some people could be very turned off to this kind of writing style.

Overall, while this book is not perfect, I did enjoy it. The ending definitely saved the book for me, and it left room for a lot of potential in the sequel. I liked the idea Laybourne has about children surviving the end of the world (that actually sounds terrible of me to say ><), and while she could have expanded on the story and made it more action-packed/dramatic, Monument 14 is nevertheless an entertaining read and I am excited to see where the second book takes us.   
A Decent Escape


  1. Thanks for the review! Monument 14 looks really interesting, but I'm a little worried about the pacing. I like when there's action to grab me in the beginning, but I don't know how I feel when it cools down significantly afterwards. Hmmm...

    Eileen @ ***Singing and Reading in the Rain***

    1. I think you should read it! The pacing does slow down a bit in the middle, but there is still enough going on (outside news/events, drama, etc.) to keep the story interesting. And the ending, which is pretty amazing, makes up for quite a bit! :)

  2. I always enjoy reading new authors and as of late have found books that my teens could also read , well worth the time! Monument 14 is a book from emmy Laybourne that has left me awaiting volume2. A captivating story with recognizable characters that engage you.

    grace (Alaska Bear Hunting)


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