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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Monument 14 (Monument 14 #1) by Emmy Laybourne

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.

Released: June 5th 2012               Pages: 294
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends        Source: Library
First Look: *****If you’ve been reading my reviews for awhile, you might have noticed that I have a thing for stories about a group of kids trapped in an enclosed space, Lord of the Flies style. I’ve read lots of these—Lord of the Flies in space, Lord of the Flies in a radioactive bubble, Lord of the Flies in school, etc. And now we have Lord of the Flies in Wal-Mart. Well, not exactly Wal-Mart. But close enough.

Setting: ***** Is there such thing as a Greenway?  (I’d look it up right now but I’m typing on MS Word because my internet is down.  I know.  The horror of horrors.)  It sounds like Safeway.  I’m kind of wondering if the author wasn’t trying to make me think of Safeway, but isn’t that more of a grocery store than the Wal-Mart/Target type thing these kids were in? 

Anyway.  The setting wasn’t particularly memorable.  I know it was set in the fairly recent future, but I wish I would’ve learned a little more about this future.  Was it covered in natural disasters, and this most recent one was just the worst?  Or was it calm until the earthquake hit?  I have too many questions about this setting to give it a high rating.

Characters: ***** I couldn’t bring myself to care about Dean.  He was a decent character, but I could never connect with him.  He was constantly putting himself down, and it bothered me to no end.  This kid had absolutely no self-esteem whatsoever.  Usually, when characters are like that, they improve over the course of the book.  Not Dean. 

The only character I truly liked was Niko.  He was interesting, and likable.  He was equal parts normal kid and hero, and I enjoyed that.  He had a nice contrast with the other characters.  The only other person I have a comment either way on is Astrid.  I didn’t understand why Dean liked her so much.  She was prett—no, I’m sorry, she was hot.  Whatever that means.  She was just your stereotypical “hot girl”.  (I cringe as I use the word “hot” like this.)  Dean loved her for her looks, and not much else. 

Plot: ***** At the beginning, it moved super fast.  Almost too fast.  Then, at a certain point, it slammed on the brakes.  For a while it was sooooo slow, then it went back to a normal rate.  Pacing, people!  Learn how to use it!  Some parts of the plot were interesting—the blood type thing, the conflicts within the group of kids.  But others were just “meh”.   

The romance was very, very cliché.  Unpopular, quiet boy in love with the popular girl?*  (And he loves her just because she’s pretty and popular.)  I’m so sick of this stereotype.  If I see it one more time, I will scream.  It’s overused and overrated.

At the same time, there were some other romances going on.  They didn’t fit the book.  They just felt thrown in.  Especially the more sexual stuff.  It felt awkwardly crammed in (and really awkwardly written), like this book was trying to be too many things at once.  

Uniqueness: ***** It did the standard near-future dystopia with natural disasters thing, but with a new twist. 

Writing: *****
This is the most annoying aspect of the book.  I wish I hadn’t returned it to the library so soon, because now I can’t show you any examples.  Mainly, the reason the writing bothered me was because it was condescending. 


The author felt the need to remind me of things I already knew.  For example, when the bus was flipped on its side.  I think I was reminded of that three times.  As if I didn’t catch it the first time.  It wasn’t even a subtle reminder—it was a “Remember, the bus was on its side!  Don’t forget!” sort of thing. 

There are some flaws in books that I can tolerate more than others.  I have zero tolerance for condescension.  I know when an adult author is “talking down” to me, as a teenage reader.  Even as an elementary school reader, I remember a few times when I felt like a book was being dumbed down just because I was young.  Authors should never, ever dumb down their writing.  Your audience knows how to read.  It’s the reason they picked up your book in the first place.  Give them a little credit. 

Likes: Nothing not already mentioned above.

Not-so-great: The word "holler" should be banned.  Seriously.  It bothers me, for some reason.**

Overall: Overall, this was a book with a cool premise that didn't quite live up to its hype.  The characters weren't anything special, and the plot was slow in places.  The writing was condescending and annoying and awkward.  You might want to try it, if it looks like something you'd be really into, but otherwise I'd pass.
Similar Books: Trapped, Gone, Ashes, The Kill Order

*I’d just like to point out that the popular girl’s name is Astrid.  Does anyone see where I’m going with this?  How To Train Your Dragon, anyone?  I bring this up because it’s actually one case where the cliché romance works.  Probably because it’s HTTYD and it’s wonderful and perfect.

**Other words that should be banned, while we're at it, are "legit" (unless used sarcastically and preceded by "seems"), "polish" (as in "nail polish" but no "nail"), "prostrated" (I hate how it sounds for some reason), and "reverse racism" (because it is just racism anyway).

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1 comment:

  1. I loved every word! Great characters, authentic dialogue, crazy, terrifying situation. A great choice for teens -- even reluctant readers will get sucked in. I can't wait for the sequel!

    grace (Alaska Hunts)


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