Saturday, January 25, 2014

REVIEW: MONUMENT 14 (Monument 14, #1) by Emmy Laybourne

Title: Monument 14
Series: Monument 14, #1
Author: Emmy Laybourne
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Genres: YA, Post-Apocalyptic
Reviewed by: Angie Edwards
My rating: 5/5


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.


All the dystopian novels I’ve read this far starts at a certain point in time after the world have already ended. In just about all of these books, the reader is given a brief overview of how the modern world ended and how people have adapted and established a new way of living. Thus, I was thrilled to have finally found a book where you get to experience the transition from the world-as-we-know-it to oh-crap-what-the-heck-just-happened. In Monument 14, you’re smack-dab in the middle of all the action as the apocalypse is triggered by a volcanic eruption which in turn causes a mega tsunami that leads to sudden hail storms, earthquakes, and the release of a deadly airborne chemical compound with dreadful consequences to those who breathe it in.

Emmy Laybourne’s debut grabbed my imagination straight from the start and I effortlessly immersed myself into the supermarket home of these fourteen characters while the world goes to waste around them. I honestly loved the setting for this book because, let’s be honest, who of us haven’t fantasized at some time or another what it would be like to live in a gigantic superstore stockpiled to the rafters with almost every product you can imagine, and having the run of the place with few to no consequences? At the very heart of it, this is what Monument 14 offers its readers: living that fantasy - albeit not in the ideal circumstances, and with a group of highly strung kids of various ages - but still.  

Another pleasant surprise for me was that for a change the story is told from a love-struck male protagonist’s point of view instead of the expected female lead. The mish-mash of kids of different ages created an exciting cast of characters attempting to survive the chaos of their world falling apart around them. This one’ll just love him! Actually, all of them are great kids, but Max shares pieces of his past that makes you smile, and at the same time it reminds you how resilient kids can be. The characters develop at a snail’s pace and at first I thought they were rather standard characters, but once I got halfway through the book I could feel myself forming a bond with these children, which compelled me to get invested in their lives.

Though the gravity of their dire situation shouldn’t be taken lightly, the story has an optimistic tone with bits of humor sprinkled throughout. The sequence of events made complete sense and has a realistic feel to it as though such a phenomenon is possible. The biggest plus for me was that the storyline isn’t romance-driven and apart from a few teenage hormones going haywire, the romance is pretty low-key. 

As with all good stories, the fun eventually has to come to an end, and in this book it happens when two adults come into the story and join the kids in their superstore home. That’s when things...well, we all know what killjoys adults can be, especially when those adults put their own survival front and center.

There were a few tiny things that bugged me and had me doubting the probability of the logic behind certain actions of some of the characters; and if you look closely you’ll spot enough lapses in common sense that would make you ask “but how could...?” or “yeah okay, but is it possible...?”. Nonetheless, if you don’t overthink it too much, it will barely distract from enjoying Monument 14 to its fullest. Truthfully I can’t deny that the plot and finer details of the story were very well thought out and implemented expertly. There’s so much more I want to tell you about what a great book this is to convince you to read it, but that would mean I’d have to include spoilers, and quite frankly my dear, I just don’t wanna (include spoilers, that is).

Overall, this was a superb read. I have mixed feelings about the ending, but I know for a fact that I’ll be reading the next book! If you’re tired of zombies and formulaic dystopian reads, then give Monument 14 a go, and let me know what you think of it. It’s well worth the time and every penny.



Emmy Laybourne is a writer, actress and teacher who lives in upstate New York. In June of 2012, Emmy’s debut novel, MONUMENT 14, was released by Feiwel & Friends, a division of Macmillan.

Emmy graduated from UCLA with an MFA in screenwriting in June of 2006. While at UCLA, Emmy won the Eleanor Perry Award for Excellence in Screenwriting from Women in Film for her screenplay, “Tulum.”

She lives in Rockland county, New York, with her husband and two children.

Blog  *  Website  *  Facebook  *  Twitter  *  Goodreads

Follow us with: 

1 comment:

Olivia (Bookcomet) said...

Ok. You have convinced me on this one. Well, you and this cover edition. It sounds great - I love dystopian books!