Monument 14

Monument 14

Author: Emmy Laybourne

Publication: 2012, Feiwel and Friends

Pages: 294

Overall Rating:  bth_35_zps7a173504[1]                       

Rating for Action: bth_3-star-rating_zps73bdba73[1]

Quantity of Action: bth_2-star-rating-1_zps4cdc0d23[1]

Age Rating: 13+

Brief Summary: Dean and his brother, Alex, are on their way to school when their bus is trapped in a massive hail storm that kills the driver and forces their bus off the road.  Mrs. Wooly, the driver of an elementary school bus, rescues some of the kids and gets them into a large superstore, but many die.  After Mrs. Wooly goes off to get help, the riot gates on the store go into lockdown and a series of catastrophic natural and man-made disasters hit the town, leaving Dean and his companions trapped in the store while the world around them descends into darkness and chaos.

Age of Main Character: 16

What I Liked the Most: Laybourne includes both young adults and children in her cast, making the teens responsible for the younger kids.  That added an important layer of drama to an already tense situation.  The teens weren’t just responsible for keeping themselves alive, and they couldn’t act in a way that they might have done if they were on their own.  Every choice they made was influenced by the fact that they were responsible for a large group of children.  The teens themselves were also mixed in age, going from 13 to 18, and including a wide range of maturity levels and abilities, all of which added extra punch to the story.

What I Liked the Least: The writing wasn’t all that impressive.  There’s a lot of repetition, and sometimes it felt like Laybourne was trying to beat me over the head to make darn sure I got whatever point she had in mind.  Here are a couple of examples:

“Come on, guys,” she said.  “Who likes puppet shows?  I’m going to do a puppet show for you guys”

No one moved.

Obviously, their failure to move had nothing to do with their feelings about puppet shows.  They were rooted to the spot in utter horror and shock.

Or this little gem:

“I don’t want to turn on a flashlight because I feel like it would attract attention.  But I’ll tell you, it’s darker than I expected here.”

So now we knew something.  It was darker out there than we were expecting.

And there’s plenty more like that sprinkled throughout the book.

How Good was the Action? The initial disaster scene gave me high hopes.  Laybourne managed to create a tense and terrifying atmosphere as massive hail stones smashed into the bus, shattering windows and killing some of the kids.  She used a lot of short sentences, and built an atmosphere of palpable danger and fear.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot more action in the book.  There are brief moments of it here and there, and they’re well done, but nothing to rival that first scene.

How Engaging was the Story?   It moves in fits and starts.   I liked the overall premise, but too much of the book consisted of f Dean making breakfast or the kids shampooing their hair to get rid of lice.  The outside world intruded occasionally, but not often enough, and life inside the store sometimes lacked the tension to really drive things forward.

Overall Assessment: Interesting premise with a good mix of characters, but mediocre writing and overall lack of tension and action pulled the story down.  It’s decent, but not one to run out and grab.

Profanity: Very little

Sex: Some.  There is a brief scene of nudity, with some making out, and a few kisses.  We also witness the aftermath of an incident of sexual abuse.

Violence: Yes.  There are fights, a couple of people get killed, and then there are the deaths that come as a result of the disasters.  There is some blood, but it’s not overly graphic.

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