Friday, September 14, 2012
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
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.
Monument 14 takes place in the not too distant future, so life hasn't changed very much from what we are familiar with today. And on some level, that makes it all the more scary. The story is narrated by high school junior Dean Grieder, a pretty average kid who also likes to write and the impression is that the story you are reading is what he wrote down about it. Oh, yes, and Dean has a crush on Astrid, who really didn't seem to know he existed until that fateful day on the school bus.
The Monument in the title stands for the town in Colorado where the story takes place and the 14 is the number of students who survive the killer hailstorm that begins this apocalyptic tale, killing everyone else on two school buses. Somehow 14 kids, 2 kindergartners, 2 first graders, 1 second grader, 1 third grader, 2 junior high and 6 high school students, manage to survive in a superstore called Greenway, similar to Target or Walmart, after one of the bus drivers drives her bus into the store (she almost immediately takes off on a mission to see what is happening outside).
The mix of different ages, different personalities and different talents useful for survival makes the post-apocalyptic part of this novel all the more interesting, though the fact that they are in a well stocked store makes that survival somewhat easier in terms of food and supplies. But in terms of personality - well, that's where real survival skill is needed when tensions begin to run high or it could end up another Lord of the Rings.
When I first started reading Monument 14, I wasn't terribly impressed. All the death and destruction that Dean describes and he is most excited that Astrid is in his group and maybe now he will stand a chance with her. A little shallow, I thought, but made concessions that he was in shock. I am glad I did. I ended up really enjoying this debut novel which is really the first in a series. The characters and the situation are very realistically portrayed, even sending a chill down my spine when the reason for all the events (natural and man-made disasters) that brought about this apocalypse, and the hailstorm was only the beginning, was revealed.
There is a fair amount of swearing, drinking, sex and violence in the novel as well as a rape scene that is not described in detail/ But on the whole, it is well written, action packed despite being confined to a superstore and for those of you who really love it, the sequel, Monument 14: Sky on Fire, will be out in summer 2013.
The book is recommended for readers age 13+
This book was borrowed from the Webster Branch of the NYPL
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