Book Review of Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Posted May 13, 2012 by Kara in Uncategorized / 5 Comments

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: June 5th, 2012
Pages: 294
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic
Source: NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Blurb: 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 hurdle 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.


Review: It’s been a few days since I finished Monument 14 and yet I still think about it from time to time. It’s not a perfect book. To be honest, it’s not even close to perfect. I could even say I barely liked it. But the truth is, I really loved the setting. And because of that I cannot stop thinking about it. When I was a kid, one of my favorite books was Richard Peck’s Secrets of the Shopping Mall. I doubt if I read the same book today that it would have the same impact it did on me as a kid, but ever since then I have always wanted to read books with a ‘store setting’. If it’s written in a mall, a grocery store, or a museum, I have to read it. So obviously even though I had issues with this book, the setting still blew me away. And that’s also kind of where I was disappointed too. I didn’t feel the author utilized the setting to her full advantage. The characters were trapped in a Greenway Superstore (think Wal-Mart) and could not go outside because of what was going on in the world. The author could have totally wrote it from a more claustrophobic angle. But she didn’t. And because of that I don’t think it had quite the effect on the reader she was looking for. 

One of the things that really annoys me as a reader is being constantly treated like a child, or treated like I cannot retain any of the information I read. I found that in a couple of places in Monument 14 the author repeated information that I really felt was unnecessary to keep repeating. Just because it is a YA book doesn’t mean teens aren’t intelligent. If there is one tip I can give to a new author, it is to assume your reader is smart and knows how to use their brain. Even if they don’t. Do not act like as the author you know more than your reader. YOU. DO. NOT. And it pisses me off to NO END when authors are condescending towards their readers. Here’s an example of what I am talking about. 

Niko half dragged me through the hail, down the “aisle” that was not an aisle but was actually the space above the seats (because, remember, the bus was on its side). What the hell is that? Everyone in America knows the bus tipped over and they had to use the side of the bus as the aisle way. It was enough to know the bus tipped over. But then even before this quote you mentioned it a few times. Then you had to repeat it again here. And that whole “because remember” has me really wanting to punch someone’s lights out. That is so friggin condescending. For serious.

The plot? True. What would a book be without some sense of plot? You’ll have to look fairly hard for the plot in this book though. Until the last 50 or so pages, there really wasn’t much of one at all. And that’s kind of a problem. You’ll read about the characters sleeping, eating, cooking, and even pooping, but if you are looking for excitement, you might want to skip ahead to page 235ish. Unless you are interested in the process of shampooing lice out of hair. Or how to knock the wall out of a dressing room. By the way, I hope that wasn’t a stud wall they knocked down or they are in for some trouble. 

One of the issues I had were the fact there were too many characters. Some of them I liked, but for the most part, they all talked the same, all acted the same (especially the little kids) and I had a hard time telling them apart. I think there were like 10 characters. And they were all present from scene to scene and talking. So if you weren’t paying close attention, it could get confusing. It wouldn’t have been so much of an issue if you could tell them apart through character development, but I really wasn’t able to, so something was obviously missing.

Monument 14 did get better towards the end. Once the two adults came into the picture and a plan was made to leave the store, and the mundane every day tasks came to an end, then I started enjoying the book more. The plot picked up and I was finally interested. I still had issues with the flat characterizations, but the story got going, and that was enough for me to bump my rating up from a 2 star to a 3. The last 50 pages really made a difference and now I am wanting to read the next book in the hopes that the story continues to develop in an exciting way. 

Before I go, I saw another review that I had to comment on. I rarely ever do this. I don’t think I ever have. But because the review (I felt) was so misleading and could put someone off from reading this book that might enjoy it, I have to. You can go ahead and skip this part if you disagree with what I am doing. Another reviewer claimed there was a rape in this book. For the record, there is no rape in this book. There is a situation that almost ends in rape, but it is stopped before it gets that far. I’m not sure if this book was re-edited and a new version was released or something, but somehow this reviewer saw something that I did not see. It was also mentioned that the character Sahalia (who almost got raped) was supposedly portrayed as a slut. I’m going to have to say I don’t agree with that statement either. Not one of the characters blamed her skimpy clothing or her attention seeking behavior as the reason she was almost raped. Or turned the perpetrator into the victim. None of that happened. The characters helped her, defended her, and took care of her until she was well enough to function on her own. Maybe it was changed in a re-edit, I don’t know, but I can only review what I read. And I happened to read that review before I read the scene(s) in question, and so I was waiting for it to happen. And it never did. That’s it. 

I don’t know if I can recommend this book or not. Based on the last 50 pages, I would say definitely, but I found a good portion of this book pretty boring. I guess it’s your call to make. I will be reading the next one though. I kind of have to know where the story goes at this point.


5 responses to “Book Review of Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

  1. Sounds like you didn’t like the book too much.
    I had high hopes for this one, but that quote annoyed me a little too.
    I hate when books don’t have a plot. It can get so boring.
    Thanks for the honest review, Kara.

  2. Amy

    I am going to be reading this one soon. Sorry that you didn’t like it. I hope that I can enjoy it, but with no plot and not much characterization it might be difficult.

  3. I haven’t heard of this book but I like the idea of kids being trapped in a store, I am sure so many of us thought that being stuck in a mall or a store overnight as kids would be fun! But this doesn’t sound fun, it sounds like the world is ending outside!

    Shame about the other review, I think sometimes people read into things too much? Who knows!

    • I have no idea what happened with the other reviw, to be honest. I’m still wondering if there were two editions handed out. And no, being trapped in this store was NOT fun, but I still love the setting anyway, LOL.

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