Review: Monument 14

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Monument 14Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
Series: Monument 14 #1
Published by Feiwel & Friends on June 5, 2012
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
Pages: 294
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-stars

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.

First Sentence: “Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus.”

Review:
One occasional perk (or onus) of being behind on my NetGalley reads is that I see people’s reviews come out about particular titles on my pile. Although I don’t read reviews for books in my tbr pile in full, I do glance at the rating and the intro and conclusion to the review. Having seen some meh reviews of Monument 14 from some bloggers I love, I was afraid this was going to be a tough read for me. Thankfully, I really enjoyed reading it all the way through.

The opening scene of Monument 14 is seriously intense. It opens with Dean and Alex running for their respective buses. Normal morning of avoiding notice on the bus (yeah, I remember doing that). Then, BAM, hail the size of like cats and dogs is slamming down, and their bus is crashing. Then death and explosions and a bus driving through the glass doors of a grocery store. In a post-apocalyptic (even more than a dystopia), you need to be prepared for MASSIVE amounts of death. You definitely get it here.

What went wrong in the world to cause all these crazies? Just about everything. A super volcano explodes and sets off a tsunami that takes out the east coast. All of this craziness means the environment has gone totally WHACK, so enter hailstorms and other craziness all over the country. In case that wasn’t enough, the weather loosed chemicals the government probably shouldn’t have created that do seriously creepy (and varying) shit to people who encounter them. Youch. I thought that was maybe a BIT much. Anyway, very The Day After Tomorrow.

I really liked Dean as a narrator. Laybourne did a great job with him I thought. He definitely felt like a male character to me. He is smart, although not brilliant, and desperate to fit in. Being stuck in the Greenway with the kind of guys who pick on him and the popular senior he’s been crushing on is a combination nightmare and dream.

There’s a sense of unreality to the kids in a store plot line. There’s something vaguely romantic about it, right? Freed of adults and able to eat candy for dinner or ice cream for breakfast. The reason it happens over and over again in books is that it makes a really good setting. It’s an isolated little universe, and the characters put there have to redefine themselves in the context of this new group, as seen in The Breakfast Club.

Although they have their issues (drugs, overly-flirtatious thirteen year old girls, fistfights, lack of personal space, a couple bratty kids, etc.), these kids are remarkably resourceful, and do an amazing job setting up their own little community within the story. Most of their decisions were wise. They worked most things out, and I loved that they did so without coercion. They ran a better government than the real world. It was amazing that they did so well with so many little ones to take care of.

The kids also have to struggle with trusting one another. Only a couple of them were actually real life friends. Now, the fourteen of them have to learn to at least tolerate one another. They also have to decide whether they can trust anyone else. Since they have so many resources, can they afford to let people in?

I have to mention quickly two plot holes that irked me. First, why did the bus driver leave the kids in the grocery store alone?!?! I mean, I know why, but I was yelling at my computer when she did that. I mean, it was freaking hailing and she’s all like ‘Peace out!’ Dude, if I were her, I would wait and try to check the radios or whatever in the store (like the kids were smart enough to do) without going outside. That just felt too much like it happened to move the plot along. The other thing that really annoyed me was that none of the kids mourned for any of their classmates that DIED IN FRONT OF THEM ON THE BUS. Really kids? Josie is in shock for a couple of days over her friend’s death, but then never mentions her again. WTF is that?

Also, having read this so far in advance, which is not my usual style, I’ve had the chance to read some other reviews on Monument 14. What bothered a lot of reviewers was the portrayal of women in the book. Looking back, I definitely agree that the three women of an age to be sexual are not portrayed well at all. They did seem like fairly believable characters, but it would be nice to see a more positive attitude towards females in the next book. I think the reason I wasn’t up in arms about this was that the guys don’t really come off so well, either. Most of the characters are varying degrees of not awesome people.

Despite those issues, I freaking ate up all of the drama and disaster in here. Monument 14 is a fast, action-packed ride, and I will most definitely be reading more. Then ending suggests more crazy drama is in store, although I’m not really sure how I feel about where it’s going. Most people loved the ending, but one of my least favorite plot points happened. Haha. It IS intense, though.

Favorite Quote:

“‘Pshaw, yesterday’s over. I never think about yesterday. If I did, I’d be dead meat.'”

35 responses to “Review: Monument 14”

  1. K, So now that I know how your blog works I’m not sitting here going “OMG THE CLASH WROTE A BOOK?!?!?!?!”

    Now that THAT is out of the way.

    Ahem.
    I have also seen some very “meh” reviews for this one, but I totally agree that there is just something about reading about a bunch of kids freed from the adults. I want to read it and I almost hate that I even looked at ratings for it because I do think it dampers the experience a bit and makes you more nit picky than usual. Well me, at least. But I am happy to say that after reading YOUR review I WILL most definitely be reading this!

    Somehow I missed it on NetGalley. FAIL.

    Great review!

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, some plots are done over and over again because they’re fascinating. I really did enjoy this one all the way through. My initial thought on finishing was a 3.5. It’s full of action and I found it a really easy read, because it totally kept my attention. I rated down, because people did make some good points. I think it’s worth reading, but I am skeptical about the next book, because I’m not sure I like the direction in which the plot is going.

  2. Alice says:

    Never heard of this book! It sounds interesting and will have to put this on my tbr pile!

  3. Lilian says:

    The only reason I noticed Monument 14 was because it was released on the same release date as Shadow and Bone (my most wanted book of the summer season.) “OOOO! SHADOW OF BONE!! YAY!..oh, what’s this other not so amazing looking blue book doing?”

    Honestly, I’d be scared more than in the mood for mourning if my friends died in front of me. But then I wouldn’t know, because thank God none of my friends died in front of me.

    “Most of the characters are varying degrees of not awesome people.”
    Awwwww. I don’t mind not-awesome as long as they are believable.
    *coughnoteveryonecanbeasawesomeasIyouknowcough* big ego moment~

    It’s currently in my Kindle, but under the “If I Have Nothing Better To Do” category.

    • Christina says:

      Did you read Shadow and Bone already? I can’t remember. Hmm. I guess I should search A Novel Toybox and not be lazy; that may or may not happen. :-p

      Well, I totally get that reaction, but I feel like at least ONE of them should have been like ‘fuck, my best friend died in front of my eyes ten minutes ago,’ you know? At least one of the little kids?

      Yeah, I thought they were pretty believable which is why I was okay with it. Would have been nice if there had been a stronger female character, but oh well.

      That’s fair.

    • Lilian says:

      To spare you from searching, I haven’t read it–although I should’ve read it over a month ago since getting it in the mail. (I seriously need to get around to making a list of reviews on one page or something) I blame the library for tempting me. And there’s all these books I highly anticipate…finally get, and leave them on my bookshelf for “display purposes.” Because OMG I LOVED THE COVER OF SHADOW AND BONE. *o*

      I don’t know how I would react to my best friend dead. Have a mental break down and hold a funeral for her? And then be like “Damn, I need to find a new best friend now! That stuff is hard!”?

    • Christina says:

      I did do a search and didn’t find it, so…thanks for trying to spare me…but you didn’t. Of course, just because there was no review up doesn’t necessarily mean you hadn’t read it, but not I know for SURE.

      The Shadow and Bone cover is great! I really liked the book, as you may have seen. I predict you’ll give it somewhere in the B to A- range, but WHO KNOWS. (I love trying to guess what other people will rate books.)

      Finding best friends is SO hard. I’d like to think it would faze me a little, but maybe not. Maybe people are just ruthless.

    • Lilian says:

      My Goodreads is usually a pretty good indicator of whether or not I’ve read a book. I add a book I finish to my Goodreads 99% of the time. I say 99% of the time only because if I read 50 Shades of Grey, I don’t know if I want it showing up on my Goodreads widget. Maybe I’d go on a OMG-I-NEED-TO-READ-SIX-BOOKS-TO-GET-THIS-BOOK-OFF-THE-FIRST-PAGE-OF-MY-WIDGET reading spree.

      YOU SHOULDN’T TELL ME WHAT YOU PREDICT.
      Now I will want to prove you wrong, and give it a lower rating in spite of you, so I can be all like “NYAH NYAH NYAH, YOU’RE WRONG! LALALALALA”
      I am competitive like that. ONLY I CAN HAVE PSYCHIC POWERS.

      Finding a best friend…it’s not like I can go up to a girl in a bar and be like “HERE’S MY NUMBER, BE MY BESTFRIEND!” *sigh*

    • Christina says:

      Or you could just post your review after you had six more ready to go and post them in a row. Just saying. I review everything I read, so, if I’m too embarrassed to post it to my blog/GR, I don’t read it. I really hope that never stops me from reading something. Well, that’s not true. If a manga’s not licensed in the US, I usually don’t post a review. You can’t know about ALL of the crazy manga I read!

      Or you could give it an A+. Who knows!??!?!

      IT WORKS BEST IN ALLCAPS VOICE. THAT’S HOW THEY KNOW YOU’RE SERIOUS AND GOOD PEOPLE.

    • Lilian says:

      If it does happen, I will probably add all the manga (but was too lazy to add to my Goodreads) I read to kick it off the list.
      I gave up waiting for manga to get officially translated. SCANLATIONS FTW.
      But I don’t review manga, no matter how much I love Skip Beat!, Yotsubato, Hunter X Hunter, and GANTZ (before it got very…weird.)

      NO BOOK HAS GOTTEN THE ELUSIVE A+ SINCE I STARTED THE BLOG. That’s reserved for a “perfect” book. A mindblowing, epic, flawless, classic-material masterpiece.

      REALLY? SO I SHOULD JUST YELL AT PEOPLE?
      I WASN’T AWARE THAT IT WAS HOW IT WORKED! I THOUGHT THEY WOULD THINK I AM BEING CONDESCENDING, OR THINK I HAD HEARING PROBLEMS. BUT THANK YOU FOR YOUR ADVICE! I WILL KEEP IT IN MIND.

    • Christina says:

      I read scanlations too, but most of the things that aren’t at least in the process of being published in the US are awful. I did review a couple. Basically, if I can’t find a large enough cover image and I don’t feel like reviewing a manga, I don’t.

      I haven’t read any of those but Skip Beat!, which I loathed for like five volumes and then got OBSESSED with. So gooooood! I totally review manga and it’s awesome. Sometimes my review (for the bad ones) is just a description of everything that happens in it, because it’s so mothereffin’ crazy. Like so.

      Really? You are even pickier than I am then!

      LET ME KNOW HOW THAT WORKS FOR YOU. I WOULD NEVER MISLEAD YOU OF COURSE.

    • Lilian says:

      I still haven’t gotten the metaphor or whatever in the introduction of Skip Beat!
      My manga tastes seem to lean towards guy manga. Except sometimes it’s all big boobies and A LOT OF GUTS.

      Damn, that review IS SO GIGANTIC!

      I think it’s because you use the 5 star/zombie unicorn scale (and you don’t even have half stars/zombie unicorns). So you can’t “afford” to be extra picky. Or is there a secret six star rating? *O*

      OKAY! I AM GOING TO BUY A MEGAPHONE! I AM TRUSTING YOU!
      I AM SO BLAMING YOU IF I END UP THE LONELY CAT LADY WHO IS GOING TO MAKE THE WORLD INTO A DYSTOPIA, DELIRIUM STYLE.

    • Christina says:

      Wait….what? Metaphor…?

      Our manga tastes are SO different. I MOSTLY like shoujo. My love for shoujo and romantic kdrama are definitely hosted from the ooey gooey part of my heart that otherwise gets no love. lol.

      Yup. The manga was INSANITY.

      No, there are half zombicorns. They’ve just all been solid numbers so far. One of those will be posting at midnight, I think. I have essentially 10 rating options; you have 18. So my scale is built to be less picky. Oh well. Ratings are only worth so much anyway. I mean, some of the 3.5 or 4 stars are ones I’ll read over and over forever and some 5 stars I’ll read once and probs not revisit. Haha.

      SURELY THIS CANNOT BACKFIRE. NOTHING SAYS FRIENDSHIP LIKE A MEGAPHONE.

    • Lilian says:

      The whole pandora’s box.with a lot of locks But Kyoko is different or something like that

      YOU ARE SUCH A ROMANTIC. I used to LOVE Sailor Moon–which prompted me to be a hardcore “magical girl” manga fan. I guess because of Sailor Moon, all these copycats kept popping up featuring super young girls, and I gobbled it all up like candy. Then as I grew older I was like “this is all too lovey dovey! AND THEY ARE ALL WEARING UBER SHORT SKIRTS!..and they are like what? 11? and getting married??!”
      I picked one up recently just to see if I could get back into it again and it was “What? This stuff is so lame! The bad guy looks ridiculous.”

      I am drawn to well drawn manga…okay, never mind..I am drawn to gigantic sparkly eyes. Which explains why I didn’t like Boys Over Flowers. The artwork…ugh. I had a phase where I wanted to be a mangaka.

      OKAY! I AM TOTALLY BRINGING IT TO THE MOVIES WITH MY FRIENDS AND SCREAM AT THEM THROUGHOUT THE MOVIE. THEY WILL JUST LOVE ME!

      Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

    • Christina says:

      Don’t remember.

      I don’t really read those. Most of them seem lame so I stop, like Card Captor Sakura and stuff like that.

      Haha, the eyes are ridiculous, but I am also drawn to the most over-the-top pretty artwork. Fruitsbasket is my favorite. I love it SO MUCH.

      AND YOU WILL MAKE SO MANY NEW FRIENDS. THIS CANNOT FAIL.

  4. Meg S says:

    Sounds a small bit like This is Not a Test – looks good!

  5. I read this a LONG time ago so I don’t really remember a whole lot and there weren’t many other reviews out there when I was writing mine. I do know that I really liked it. I haven’t read many novels where the apocalypse is happening RIGHT NOW. Usually, books are about the aftermath and rebuilding. Also, I felt like the book’s weakest point was the ending, and I was very very mad at it.

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, I also really liked reading it. There was never a question of DNFing or anything. It’s exciting all the way through. However, the more I thought about it, I wondered about some of the messages being sent, intentionally or inadvertently.

      The ending was awful. I don’t know if I’ll read the next one because of what happened with that one character. Ahem. *shakes fist*

  6. aLilLacey says:

    “I mean it’s freaking hailing and she’s like ‘Peace out!’ Haha you crack me up. Sounds like a fun book though. A bunch of kids tapped in a supermarket while the world falls apart. You could get really creative with that idea. How would i be in that situation? Probably in the corner crying eating chips. Thanks for the review!

    • Christina says:

      Haha, thanks. I think I’m pretty funny, and it’s good to know others agree!

      Laybourne did some interesting things with the idea. I have a love/hate relationship with this book, I think. On the one hand, I think it’s impressive that the book is so readable with such obnoxious characters. There aren’t too many books that don’t have likable characters that I can read and enjoy. On the other hand, why can’t any of them be a good person? Is this a commentary of some sort?

      I would go for the ice cream while I was crying. If the power goes out, it’s going to go bad first and chips will last. 🙂

  7. I really liked Monument 14, because of the pacing and the concept of being trapped in a store.

    I’m not about to change my rating, but after reading a few reviews about the problematic portrayal of the females, I definitely was able to see/understand that point.

    • Christina says:

      I definitely right with you.

      Were my review already published at that point, I wouldn’t have changed it, but since I had a couple of months, I did adjust down a .5. More upsetting perhaps than the ladies was the hispanic guy being the evil one. Why was that necessary?

  8. Kayla Beck says:

    As a mom, I really don’t know if I can bring myself to read this one. I don’t like having the shit scared out of me (and I will because I’m a hover mom), and Bug is nearly the age of some of the younger characters according to some reviews I’ve read. That being said, I really want to read this book, but I know what will happen if I do. 🙂

  9. M.A.D. says:

    I just put Monument 14 on my birthday *wish list* on Amazon, been wanting to read it for quite a while so forgive me for not reading much of the review here (didn’t want to accidentally *spoil* the book for me lol).

    Another book with an awesome cover <3
    Ps … just thinking out loud, but (if no one’s done it yet) it would be fun if somebody (not me lol) could find out who some of the best cover artists are and start showcasing their work.

    Mary DeBorde M.A.D.

    • Christina says:

      No problem! I don’t read reviews for books I’m planning to read either, except, very occasionally, from reviewers I know well enough to trust not to spoil. I generally like to go into a book as a fairly blank slate, so I totally get it. I try really hard not to drop any spoilers, but I will never begrudge people who don’t like to read reviews first. 🙂

      The cover looks even better in person! Hmm, that is a good idea. I know I’ve seen it somewhere, but I can’t remember where. Sorry! I’m not sure if I would know how to find that info easily. I may look into it, though. Thanks for the idea whether I use it or not!

    • M.A.D. says:

      Christina! *YAY* I did get Monument 14 for my bd and have already tore thru that baby like it was a bag of peanut M&Ms lol

      NOW I can go back up and enjoy reading your review ;D

    • Christina says:

      Hahaha, I saw that you’d posted a review of it. Glad you enjoyed it!

  10. I loved Dean as a narrator too, and even though the peeping tom scene was awkward, it was so teenage boy like that it didn’t really bother me.

    I didn’t really make too much of the bus driver not coming back because that was such an obvious move, but I didn’t really think about the fact that they didn’t really mourn. Maybe it could be chalked up to shock?

    • Christina says:

      Right? That wasn’t really an issue for me, either. Should he have? No. Could I swear that if I were in his place I wouldn’t watch for a bit longer than I should have? No.

      Haha, yeah. It was such a plot point. It just would have made more sense to me to have the bus driver die in the initial stuff and then have an older kid crash the bus into the store or have her die from crash injuries. Her walking off didn’t advance the plot in any way.

      I guess it could have been shock, but…eh. At least one of them should have lost a best friend and cared about it, I feel.

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