Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

It starts out as just another ordinary day for Dean and his brother Alex. Both running to catch their buses to school. Dean is on the high school bus and Alex is on the bus for younger students. Nobody is expecting it when disaster strikes. Large hail starts falling from the sky. Dean's bus driver is inexperienced and immediately crashes the bus. Alex's bus driver is experienced and seems ready for any disaster. She heads her bus of students into the storefront of the Greenway, a superstore. Amidst the wreckage of the bus Dean is saved by fellow students and hauled into the Greenway.

Alex's bus driver decides to go for help. She insists that everyone stay behind to remain safe. She promises to send help. All together there are 6 high school kids, 2 eighth graders and 6 little kids in the Greenway.

After the bus driver leaves the Greenway's safety gates come down and lock the kids inside. Soon after a chemical is released in the the outside air that affects people with certain blood-types differently. Dean becomes filled with rage and wants to kill someone. His brother Alex takes a beating before he is subdued. From then on the kids are truly cut off from outside as they cover all air ducts to keep the outside air from getting in.

Niko becomes the official leader of the group. He helps them get organized and gives them each a job to do to keep them alive. Dean's job is cook. Each day he chooses a helper from the little kids. They all do very well setting up their new home in the Greenway. They have all of the supplies that they will need to survive for a very long time. Of course they don't all get along. Jake and Braydon the "popular" guys are not happy when Niko is voted in as leader. They do very little to help in their new home. Sahalia is an 8th grader but wants to be treated as one of the older students. She tries consistently to get the guys attention. Dean has had a crush on Astrid for a long time, but she is Jake's girlfriend. She too is affected with rage when she breathes the outside air. After a scary episode with one of the little kids she secludes herself from the others. Then there are all of the little kids who miss their parents and just want to go home. How much longer can they live in the Greenway not knowing what has happened with their families? When will they be rescued?

First off I love apocalyptic stories. There is something about survival after disaster happens that make for entertaining reads for me. I thought the story was very good and kept me turning the pages until the end. I'm finding though that I am getting very disappointed in YA literature lately. The use of Jesus Christ as a swear word is very offensive for me. It was used quite frequently in this book. In fact it was almost the exclusive swear word in this book. Normally I would have closed the book and not finished it. The only reason I kept reading was because I had recently closed another YA book for the same reason and thought I should at least try and finish this book. There were also a couple of sexual situations in the book. Was any of that necessary to move the story along? In my opinion NO. Putting those two things aside, the story was entertaining and different enough from other apocalyptic stories. I liked the characters, I liked the idea of being trapped in a super store with all of the possibilities there. But still I am disappointed in what I am seeing in YA reads lately.

This is an ARC from ALA in January. It comes out in publication in June of 2012.

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