Author: Emmy Laybourne (Twitter)
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publish Date: June 5, 2012
Genre: YA, Dystopian
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.
Imagine that the day started like any other. Now imagine what happens the minute that day turns to hell, and a superstorm rains down up your town, leaving death and destruction in its wake. This is the world that Dean now lives in. Dean and his surviving busmates take shelter in the store, and they're left to their own devices as the only surviving adult searches for help. But Dean and the others are in a harrowing predicament. The outside world is ravaged, and they must somehow maintain a sense of order to survive inside the store. But can they do so?
I've been complaining for a long time now that I want to read a true post-apocalyptic novel where the world is so immeasurably broken that we, as readers, are forced to pick up the pieces with the characters. When I read the premise for Monument 14, I realized that we're pretty much offered that and much more. Author, Emmy Laybourne, tackles a tricky topic and deftly merges the lives of fourteen unique characters into a tense survival story. In the wake of utter destruction, Monument 14 offers us a chance to view a coming-of-age tale, or a downward spiral, and we're left guessing which will win out in the end.
You know, I'm kind of a mixed bag of emotions on this one because, on one hand, I think the author really succeeded in what she set out to accomplish with this story. On the other hand though, I think I still expected (or at least hoped for) more. The biggest strength of Monument 14 lies within the claustrophobic world within the pages. We get to experience complete devastation from the very start, then we're thrust into this cramped superstore with a mixed spread of characters of all ages, and we're challenged to get to know them and relate to them. It's a tricky task, to be sure, because not all the characters are entirely relatable. Dean was an entirely real main character, but his lack of people skills made it a bit difficult to get in his head sometimes. Niko, however, displayed a depth that really resonated with me, and as he worked to maintain order and care for the younger children, there was a sense of calm and steadiness that really solidified the character arc. For the most part, I think that Monument 14 succeeded if you look at it as a psychological tale. These characters are presented with horrible circumstances, and we're forced to side with them as the try to survive together. I do think that, despite the immediate action, we lacked a lot of danger in the midst of the story, and it felt a bit flat as we got to know the characters and their backstories. However, the pacing did kick up at the end, and the book did finish on a high note, despite its pacing flaws.
Overall, Monument 14 was a pretty good start to a new series. Was it amazing? No, not really. But it was good, and I think that the ending set up a nice premise for the second installment. I give it a 3.5 out of 5, and I'd recommend it to fans of YA, especially those who enjoy dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.