Series: Monument 14 # 1
Published by Feiwel & Friends on June 5, 2012
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.
Interestingly, while Laybourne’s writing style skews towards the young end of the Young Adult spectrum, there are some decidedly non-kid topics: drinking, drug use, a bit of sex, voyeurism, and child molestation. It was a bit jarring to have these discussed in the simplistic narration.
You’d think that the potential end of the world would eliminate cliques, but for the most part, the cool kids stay cool, and the geeks stay geeks. It’s also made clear that the popular kids are reckless and dangerous at best and dangerous at worst. The presence of little kids forces some of the older ones to take on the responsibility of caring for them, but oh, my – they became annoying very quickly. They seemed to be there only to whoop and cheer one moment and to start bawling the next.
A strange element is added when the kids start behaving in a variety of bizarre manners. I might be overly cautious of spoilers here by not specifically explaining this, but I’ll just say that a certain biological difference among people determines the specific behavior. The way that survivors are afflicted seems like it could have been chosen via a dartboard. Of course, this is a work of fiction, but I can’t imagine the science behind these behaviors. Laybourne doesn’t give it to us in this book; perhaps it will be explained in the sequel, but for now, we’re just required to accept it.
The ending sets up a potentially positive change for the sequel. I’m planning to check it out, but if things don’t pick up, it will be time to say goodbye to the kids from Monument 14.
Review posted at Goodreads.