Review: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

May 19, 2013 2 - 2.5 Stars, Emmy Laybourne, Post-Apocalyptic 8 ★★½

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
Series: Monument 14 # 1
Published by Feiwel & Friends on June 5, 2012
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic
Pages: 294
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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.
Monument 14 is a decent entry in the glut of YA post-apocalyptic novels.  It starts off with a monster of a hailstorm that results in the quite graphic deaths of a number of kids on a school bus.  The survivors – 14 kids and one adult – seek cover at a Wal-Mart-esque superstore.  That last adult is quickly removed from the equation when she heads out for help.  The kids learn from newscasts in the store that the world is going to hell, and they lock themselves inside.  The kids do what we expect them to (raid the shelves!), but they also debate whether to escape or to hunker down for the foreseeable future.

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.


8 Responses to “Review: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne”

  1. Robyn Jones

    So far the best mall visit in a post apocalyptic world has to be in Night of the Comet. Even though it’s a movie, the mall scene is short, fun, and then over. I’m not sure I’d make it through a whole book there and then add clicks, yikes!

  2. Lectus Read

    So sad you didn’t like it! I really liked this one. I liked that Dean kept it real. Also, the story reminded of the movie The Mist but with kids. This book would make a really cool movie.

    I need to buy (or pre-order) the second one. I hope it is a good.

    • Go Flash Go - Read, Rinse, Repeat

      I think you’re right that it could be a movie. I’d give some tweaks to the characters, i.e. no asshole jocks, no “sluts”, and get rid of the little kids.

      Hmmm…want to write the screenplay with me? 🙂

  3. Ashley

    I have the audiobook of this one to check out. Good to know that it seemed geared towards the younger end of YA. I have seen lots of meh reviews including yours, so I will have to push it further down my TBR pile.

    Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

  4. Kim (YA Asylum)

    I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t like this. I’ve been hearing mixed reviews. The whole cliche aspect is really disappointing, I hate it when that happens even in a contemporary YA. I have this as an ebook so, theoretically, I’ll eventually read it. So far, I’ve heard really positive things about the sequel.

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