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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Title: Monument 14
Author: Emmy Laybourne
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Publishing House: Feiwel and Friends
ISBN: 9780312569037
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked

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 hug 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 the 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 hailstore and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world - as they know it - apart.

        (Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


It was a day just like any other... until hail the size of boulders started pummeling down from the sky. Fourteen kids are lucky enough to be stranded into a huge super store, because outside? It's an apocalyptic dream come true. Driven apart by social hierarchy but begrudgingly brought together by the course of events, these fourteen kids must work together to keep themselves alive to find their families.

I think book covers are very important as they set the overall mood and theme of the story. With Monument 14 briefly sitting on my dedicated To Be Read shelf and the blurb not giving me any clue of the gender of the protagonist, I honestly believed that the protagonist would be a girl (Look at that person in the hoodie in the middle! How can that not be a girl?!) It is with this particular mindset that I delve into Monument 14, only to find out that the protagonist of the story was a character named Dean and he was decidedly not a girl. Or so I initially thought. I just really couldn't see him as a very convincing male lead. There's a fine line between being a pansy and being a generally nice guy, and I think I classified Dean under the former. I wasn't really surprised then that Astrid, the girl of his dreams, didn't really feel anything for him. The reason why guys like the jocks Jake and Brayden get the girls isn't just really because they're jerks - they ooze confidence, which is something that Dean doesn't have a lot of. Pardon me, Dean, but I don't think staring intensely at your crush - all the while being a bit creepy, at that- will help you get the girl. 

But then, something hit me. Maybe, just maybe, Laybourne used Dean as a means to prove the point that, Hey, this whole apocalypse thing? It can totally happen to you. It is with this thought in mind that made Monument 14 suddenly a little bit more interesting for me. Although it was pretty hard to ignore the protagonist (Sorry, Dean.) Laybourne presents a totally feasible apocalyptic scenario that lures in the reader to assess his/her own decisions, if given the choice. I thought that the part with the fumes affecting people according to their blood type was pretty interesting, as I would have made an addition to the people who turned into totally violent maniacs.

Laybourne's Monument 14 experiments with different kinds of people and pits them against each other and against the circumstances when the society we've always known has been left in tatters. Being a fan of apocalyptic theories and dystopian settings, this was probably the reason why the premise of Monument 14 appealed to me.

Despite the fact that it was an okay read, I don't think I will be getting the next book. I think Laybourne's Monument 14 had been enough to give me a glimpse of a horrifyingly plausible scenario.



  1. Oh no, a non-engaging main character? I thought for sure this novel would be great since I love the premise. But I guess plot can only bring you up to somewhere. Thanks for the review, Michelle! This was high on my to-read list but I think it has now moved down. :)

    1. I was quite surprised too. I am not the type who gets easily irritated at or bored of the main character, but Dean was just... Well, there.

      Thanks for reading the review! :)

  2. Awesome review! "I believed." That pretty much sums it up. I loved this one too! Have you listened to the accompanying song? It's amazing! My review and interview with Emmy will be up on release day!

    grace (Alaska Bear Hunting)