Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Review: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

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Monument 14
Emmy Laybourne
Series: Monument 14, #1
Release date: June 5th 2012
by Feiwel & Friends

Goodreads / Purchase

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.

 *A copy was provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for review purposes*

We should all know by now, being stuck in a mall – or a superstore in this case – never EVER ends well. We’ve all had fantasies as children, imagining the awesome possibilities. Well, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be! Horror movies tell the truth! So yes, I was super intrigued by the premise of Monument 14 where a bunch of kids get trapped in a superstore to tough out what seems to be the end of the world. I didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped, but it’s an overall enjoyable read.

One thing that really bothers me about a writing style is when an author constantly feels the need to remind me of facts that has happened: Repeating information to make sure I’m “getting it”. This is what I first noticed in this novel. Recapitulations are common and only amounted to making me feel irritated. “because, remember […]” is even used, in case I wasn’t smart enough to have caught on – to something that was particularly major in this case. This is a qualm many readers may not notice or care about, but it’s a pet peeve of mine.

Quote I’ve always loved:
The audience is only as smart as you allow them to be.

Just saying.

The book starts with a bang. We get acquainted with Dean on a day like any other when it suddenly turns disastrous. Monster hail, a bus crash, injuries, deaths – a pretty exciting starting chapter. After this, however, be prepared for a lot of cooking, sleeping, cleaning; basically playing house. I’ve talked to others who say it’s meant to be a more psychological story, one that concentrates on the pressures of living through such a traumatizing event – and it is, I agree, but I never felt it. Until close to the end, these kids aren’t giving off a very distressed vibe. After the initial shock, they all seem comfortable and carefree. Playing with barbies, getting high, pigging out: Indulging themselves with everything a chain store has to offer. I wasn’t necessarily bored, but it wasn’t an emotionally powerful read up to that point. About 50 pages from the end is where it starts getting more serious with some intense developments and a bleak glimpse beyond the store. The sequel definitely has immense potential.

The lack of a distraught feeling could also be due to the fact that we don’t get a whole lot of information about the outside situation. It starts with the monster hail, then we learn of dangerous chemicals in the air, plus several other natural disasters – including a megatsunami. This all sounds highly ominous and sinister, except… we don’t know what we’re dealing with. What happened? Is this simply going to go away after 6 months as the news says, with things going back to normal and some minor setbacks? I don’t think the author successfully achieves to create the strong sense of alarm and dread that was intended. These events are scary – actually, deathly terrifying – in theory, but the lack of suspense throughout 90% of the book makes it feel like they’re simply unpleasant inconveniences.

Dean, socially awkward, is a bit of an outsider. I enjoyed his character overall and he’s a really good guy, but I didn’t find there was a lot of character building. At the beginning I was caught off guard when I learned he was male. It’s not made clear until a few pages in and the adjustment took a little bit; I kept forgetting and making him into a girl. I do enjoy male POVs so it wasn’t a disappointment, but I didn’t find it an especially convincing male perspective. Along with taking a while for his gender to stick, I felt he was very… ordinary. I think the fact that there’s such a big cast plays a role in this. We’ve got quite a few kids to keep track of and I found most of them to be a lot more interesting, taking my attention away from the main character.

It does seem like I have a lot of negativity towards this novel, but all in all I did like it. These mentions don’t cause enormous problems in the bigger picture so I was still able to enjoy the story enough to garner a 3-star. I do give final credit to the ending, though, which has definitely upped the ante, giving us quite a bit to look forward to in the sequel.

3 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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32 Responses to “Review: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne”

  1. Nicola

    Ah, the constant reminders sound a bit condescending and annoying! I think I’d enjoyed other aspects of the book though. It’s on my pile to read this week so I’ll see soon enough! Lovely review 😀

  2. Nick

    Monument 14 was one of my highly anticipated reads for this month, but reading the mixed reviews has somewhat lowered my expectations. I’ve heard another reviewer say the same thing about the whole reminding the reader of previous events, and I agree with Nicola above when she says that it sounds condescending.
    I don’t think I would appreciate the author assuming that the reader is stupid and has no memory whatsoever.
    Regardless, I found the concept to be fascinating and it’s disappointing that they end up doing housework after the outstanding beginning. :/
    That’s one huge problem I have with male POVs too , especially when it’s written by women. I tend to forget that the narrator is a guy and not a girl.
    I’m glad you still liked the book even with all the tiny issues you had.
    Great review, Giselle 🙂

  3. The Teen Book Guru

    I LOVE awesome endings! XD So sad to see that you didn’t like this once that much… I think it sounds great and I love the cover, so I guess that just goes to show that you should NEVER judge a book by its cover. Awesometastic review, Giselle! <3

    LOL I hate it when I just assume that a character is male or female and then get it wrong… it’s so weird and strange!! But Dean actually seems pretty great and relatable. Happy Tuesday!!

  4. Amy

    My review of this goes up tomorrow. OMG I think I need to change some of my wording now though because we seriously say a few of almost the exact same things. We really do think alike lol!! I gave this 3 stars too, but I am still looking forward to the next book.

  5. Karen

    Hm. I’m excited to read this one but I think I’ll lower my expectations a little bit. I hate hate hate the constant reminders and recaps thing.

    Honestly if given the choice between a tsunami and living in a Wal-Mart, I think I’d take my chances with the tsunami.

  6. Catherine@thebookparade

    omg, the summary of that has me shivering! It’s a shame it seems to have not been as amazing as it sounds like it could have been…not sure if I’ll be racing to read this one…

    Catherine 🙂

  7. Jackie's Little World

    I didn’t even have this on my radar until now. I love this type of premise in a book, but one of my pet peeves is also over/re-telling things. I’ll still read it at some point…too bad it didn’t quite hit the mark :/

  8. Melanie

    I am definitely excited to read this one but I won’t read it anytime soon. I think I’ll need to lower my expectations before. I hate constant reminders and this one seems to have a lot of them. Great review as always, Giselle!

  9. Carina

    Thank you for your honesty. This has been on my to-read list for a while, but I never requested it on NetGalley after I read some rather mixed reviews – and after reading your review now, I’m glad I put off reading it. While it sounds interesting, it doesn’t really seem like a memorable read… and I’m also not fond of being treated like I can’t remember things that happened in a story. 😀

  10. Rachel @ Unforgettable Books

    I totally understand about the annoyance of reminders. I dislike them too. I really love the premise of this book! An amazing book that sounds similar is gone by michael grant.

    Fantastic, reasonable review Giselle! :0

  11. Sandy!

    The premise catched my attention but after reading your review I don’t think I’m gonna read it, not yet at least.
    Like you, I hate when authors make too many recapitulations, it’s like when my main explains her jockes…
    Thanks for the review! =)

  12. Katie @ BlookGirl

    Meh. LOL. I knew I should wait to read this one until I read reviews, and I’m glad I did. I think I may pass, but I think your review was very fair.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, love muffin! 🙂

  13. Anna @ Literary Exploration

    Well, as always, I totes agree LOL! But we talked about this, and the things that bothered you didn’t bother me so I think that’s probably why. I really really loved this one, so I’m sad you didn’t, but I’m not surprised LOL!!! Love your face!

  14. Heather

    I thought that from the moment I started reading the description. Something about the writing style in it grated on me. After reading your review and seeing that the entire book is written that way, I fear it may not be for me.

  15. Shooting Stars Mag

    It really does sound like a slight let-down of a novel, so to speak. I do think the stakes should have been a bit higher…judging from your review, as I havent read the book myself. I’m glad the ending got more interesting and it was an okay book overall.


  16. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    Hah, the only time I was really confused about the gender of a protagonist was when the author wanted me to be. (Steve Brezenoff, Brooklyn, Burning). But I can totally see how it might happen. I had such high expectations from this book, it’s good to know that I can take my time getting to it.
    Awesome review, my darling!

  17. ShreShre

    I wanted to read this one, but now that you’ve described it in detail, i’m not sure. Just not my cup of tea. But I love the review though, and I think many other will definitely enjoy it 🙂

  18. Natalie (Mindful Musings)

    I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m ALWAYS up for a disaster/apocalypse/post-apocalypse kind of book. It makes me feel really morbid at times! Lol. Anyways, this is on my soon-to-be-read pile, and while I think some of the things you mentioned might annoy me as well, I’m still hoping I’ll enjoy it overall! 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts, girlie!

  19. Silverlight

    I think I’m going to pass on this one. The whole concept seems to irritate me. Repeating info, playing w/ barbies, getting high? (what are they getting high with, that u could find in a superstore??) The pigging out part I can totally see. This book seems like one big mess.
    No desire to read it, thanks for the warning!
    Love your honest review for this. Totally had to look up Recapitulations??!! Duh for me! 😀

  20. Giselle

    @Silverlight: They get high on sleeping pills (or other type of pills from the pharmacy section) and alcohol. You can find anything in that store!! 😀

    Thanks so much for your lovely comments, everyone! 🙂

  21. Vegan YA Nerds

    I really like the cover for this, it immediately catches my eye but maybe the insides don’t match 🙁 I too like the idea of being stuck in a store but I’m not sure how that would save you, surely a store isn’t airtight and chemicals could get in? Maybe a PoV from outside in the world would have added some more depth to this story? in any case, I’d still like to read it, great review, hun!

  22. Sam

    Amazing review, Giselle! This sounds pretty good despite the flaws but I’ll be sure not to go in with high expectations. I just hope the author’s writing doesn’t bother me too much…

  23. Mel - Thedailyprophecy.

    Oh, the constant reminders sound annoying! I don’t think I would like that.. It would give me the idea of being an idiot in the eyes of the writer. And the fact that there is not a lot of suspense ánd just an okay main character. Hmm. I have my doubts about this one, so I’ll put it lower on my to be read list. Thanks for your review 🙂

  24. Jac

    This sounds like a really great premise, I mean being stuck in a superstore? Great setting!! I think i’m going to put this on my TBR list, see what I think of it!

    Thanks (as always) for the great review!

    -Jac @ For Love and Books

  25. Camille Picott

    Heh, I too had fantasies about getting stuck in a mall as a kid. Too funny! I love that this book capitalizes on that. Sorry to hear it wasn’t great, though it sounds like a decent ride if I’m looking for something quick and fun. Great review!

  26. fishgirl182

    thanks for the review. i just bought this book at the fierce reads tour this week. out of all the book this was the one i was on the fence about. but i do like the premise and am gonna give it a go. glad you enjoyed parts of it.

  27. inlibrisveritas

    I really want to read this since I’ve been hearing the mixed reviews, my monstrous curiosity has kicked in. It sucks when the author keeps pushing the same information, so I’m sure that will bother me too. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it quite as much as you had hoped. Great review!