Title: Monument 14 (Monument 14 #1)
Author: Emmy Laybourne
Dean is on his way to school when a massive hailstorm hits hard enough to demolish the bus. By the time it’s over, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids are trapped in a Greenway superstore. They build a refuge for themselves inside. But the hailstorm wasn’t the beginning, and it won’t be the end. The world as they know it is tearing itself apart.
I picked up this book because not only do I like a good post-apocalyptic story, I was curious what kind of problems these kids would have, since the obvious food and water problems wouldn’t apply for a while.
Dean, the main character, was not what I expected. As the main character in a post-apocalyptic story, I expected him to be the take-charge, keeping-everybody-alive kind of guy. And he wasn’t. He was more of a follower than a leader, not great with people, and awkward with girls. But, somehow, I liked him anyway.
Niko was the kind of guy I expected as the main character. The kind of always-be-prepared, take-charge leader, who wasn’t exactly friendly but knew how to get the job done. He was frequently harsh and/or distrustful, which kept him from being my favorite character, but it was definitely a good thing he was there.
Jake, I didn’t particularly like. He wass the womanizing jock type, and spent half the time drunk or high. Although he could be nice at times, for the most part, he was a jerk.
Josie, once she got over the initial shock, was…I’m not sure exactly what to call her. She was a leader, but better with people than with strategy. Frankly, I think if she wasn’t around, the little kids would have been a huge problem.
There were fourteen characters in all, which is a pretty big cast, but it actually worked out. Astrid, one of the high school kids, was AWOL for about half of the story, and Braydon, the other one, mostly went along with Jake. For about the first half of the book, I got the six little kids mixed up. Even towards the end if a kid hadn’t been mentioned for a while, when they came up again, I’d have a “who is that again?” moment.
I really can’t say much about the plot, because the characters are the plot, if that makes sense. Since they were stuck in a supermart, survival wasn’t really the focus. The focus was the characters themselves and how they handled the disasters and each other. This is definitely what I’d call character-driven fiction, and it’s done brilliantly. All the emotions felt very real, and even though I didn’t agree with everything they did, it was perfectly understandable.
Normally, character-driven plots aren’t something I go for, but I really enjoyed this story. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Sky on Fire, when it comes out in May.