Title: MONUMENT 14
Author: Emmy Laybourne
Synopsis: 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.
Review: I LOVED THIS BOOK. I read it in my pre-travel OMG-I-HAVE-TO-FLY-ON-AN-AIRPLANE-FOR-TEN-HOURS-I-HOPE-I-DON’T-DIE anxiety. And you’d think that reading an ‘end of the world’ novel would have just pushed me further into my hysteria, but… it didn’t. This book sucked me in and distracted me for a full 24 hours pre-trip so I was able to cope.
Yes, I read this book in 24 hours. I did have to take a break to sleep, eat, pack, and go to work, but in all that in-between time I had my nose glued to my kindle as I read this.
I actually happened across this book by total chance. It was on sale in the kindle store (the only place and price I’m allowing myself to buy books these days) so I looked it up on Goodreads, saw that it was a disaster novel, and pushed the ‘BUY NOW’ button (my favorite button on the internet).
At exactly 3% into the story I was already updating my Goodreads page raving about it. THIS IS HOW YOU START AN APOCALYPSE. Kids on a school bus, giant pieces of ice falling from the sky. One plucky driver crashes her bus into the closes Mega-store and saves the kiddos. Well, only 14 of them. Must have been early on her bus route.
The story starts off with a bang and does NOT slow down. They go from super hail to the biggest earthquake in history, MEGAtsunamis, and a chemical weapons spill that I thought was pretty unique (for ya know, a chemical weapons spill).
Now, this was pretty much the only thing that bugged me… the earthquake. Maybe because I DID live through the ‘biggest earthquake in human history (two years ago on March 11th)’ I’m a bit sensitive to earthquake’s in fiction. This earthquake was bigger than the March 11th one, but they had NO aftershocks? And the building survived? I’m not a scientist, and I don’t know anything about earthquakes that happen because of MEGAtsunamis, but I do know that there are aftershocks (for years!) after huge quakes. So I tried not to let this bother me, but I did make a note about it.
Outside of the whole ‘world is ending’ portion of the novel, the heart of the story is how the kids survive inside of the giant Wal*Mart (that’s what I pictured anyway). The one adult goes to find help, leaving some teenagers in charge of a handful of Junior high and Elementary students. With only 14 kids we get A LOT of personality. And I loved these crazy kids. We had the adorable twins, the Spanish kid (who doesn’t speak English), a super religious boy (who kept telling everyone they were going to hell), a hilarious kid who’s basically lived the life of a 45 year old trucker (Max, he was my favorite. His stories about strippers and other random forms of ‘adult entertainment’ were hilarious). And then the ‘older’ kids; a couple of jocks, a popular girl, another girl who probably could have been the class president, a pre-teen who thought it was a great idea to try to dress sexy and try to get the older boys to hook up with her (her storyline was probably one of the most interesting and really knocked you in the gut, but man, there were times when I just wanted to scream at her and knock her down a few pegs), a boy scout, and then our narrator (who was kinda a nerd) and his computer-genius brother.
So all of these kids in this store… and things go from super fun (freedom and LOTS of candy), to Lord of the Flies. There are some tense moments and some truly terrifying moments. There are plays for power, moments were they have to choose who to trust, and even times when they’re just a bunch of stupid kids doing stupid things. And teens doing stupid teenager things.
I can’t say too much more without spoiling it, so just take my word for it and check out this book! The next one, MONUMENT 14: SKY ON FIRE comes out later this month, and I just found out that there’s also a short story. Super excited to check them both out!