The Story: The day disaster strikes in Monument, Colorado, Dean is on a school bus with his classmates on the way to school, while his younger brother rides in the bus in front of his. The next thing he knows, he’s taking refuge in a Greenway superstore with his little bro and twelve other kids, ages 5 to 17. The world has gone to pieces outside their safe haven, with everything from massive hail storms, 8.2 earthquakes, and a devastating chemical cloud spreading over the area. It becomes an intense battle for survival as the community of kids tries to endure what’s going on both outside and inside the superstore.
The Low Down: Monument 14 is what you would get if The Mist by Stephen King and Gone by Michael Grant had a love child. This book was incredibly compelling and simply un-put-downable (today’s Made-Up Word-of-the-Day). While I wouldn’t consider it a quick read, it’s very fast paced and I read it in one sitting (well, two technically. Barnes and Noble was closing and the library’s copy wasn’t in yet…)
The plot is well thought out and the bit of science behind it seems legit. It’s not like some b-movie on the Syfy Channel about a tornado forming in the middle of a volcano and the characters decide to use something from their high school chem lab to create a hurricane to counteract the ice age that’s going to occur within 24 hours. No, no, no. Laybourne’s disaster has a cause-and-effect relationship that MAKES SENSE. And, call me crazy, but I love when books do that!
Laybourne’s characters also shine in the book. Whether or not this is how 14 kids and teens would react during such a disaster, I have no idea. In my head, I would think it would be a bit more chaotic than what Laybourne describes. However, what really speaks is the development of the characters. Characters you would expect to be traumatized cowards become heroes, and vice versa. As the story progresses, we understand more about the characters and how complex they really are. It’s told first-person from Dean’s point of view, but we still get great insight into the rest of the characters.
The ending is solid and does not disappoint. Most most-apocalyptic and dystopian novels all seem to have one thing in common… a wide open cliffhanger ending with everything left open to the reader’s interpretation. Often we get a sequel to satisfy our curiosity, but sometimes we don’t. Without giving too much away, I will say that the ending to Monument 14 is an actual conclusion that does not necessarily require a sequel. If you don’t feel like getting involved in a new series, this could be a stand-alone novel.
- I have it on good authority (Emmy Laybourne’s website) that there will in fact be a sequel titled Monument 14: Sky on Fire. If you’ve read Monument 14 and would like a wee bit of insight into the sequel, you can check out an interview with Emmy Laybourne at Emily’s Reading Room. She doesn’t reveal too much info so as to avoid spoilers. BUT! Only read it if you have read Monument 14, because it will give away a crucial decision made in the final few pages. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The Bottom Line: Monument 14 is an gripping story of survival. If you like the post-apocolyptic genre or are a fan of disaster movies, this is definitely the book for you. With lots of suspense, twists, and surprises to keep readers on their toes, it’s sure to please.
OFFICIAL RATING: 9/10
Also from Emmy Laybourne’s website, here is a very cool book trailer that I feel the need to share…