Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review: Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne

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I received this book for free from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Sky on Fire by Emmy LaybourneSky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne
Series: Monument 14 #2
Published by Feiwel & Friends on May 28th 2013
Source: Raincoast Books
Buy on Amazon

The world hasnโ€™t endedโ€ฆyet.

In this sequel to MONUMENT 14, the group of survivors, originally trapped together in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters, has split in two. Most of the kids are making a desperate run on their recently repaired school bus for the Denver airport where they hope to reunite with their parents, be evacuated to safety, and save their dying friend.

But the world outside is dark and filled with dangerous chemicals that turn people into bloodthirsty monsters, and not all the kids were willing to get on the bus. Left behind in a sanctuary that has already been disturbed once, the remaining kids try to rebuild the community they lost. But when the issues are life and death, love and hate, who can you really trust?

Sky on Fire, the sequel to Monument 14, is more action packed and exciting, but the writing is still filled with irritating quirks that doesn’t allow me to give it a higher rating, no matter how much I might have enjoyed the rest–which was actually quite a bit.

Since we’re at it, let me tell you what I mean about the writing. I knew from the first book that the author likes to write as if her readers are a littleโ€ฆ slow? The first novel was filled with commentaries and unnecessary repetitions to make sure we understood clearly what was happening. This sequel is, unfortunately, not without these redundancies. The best example:

“Right before Castle Rock, there was a long stretch of open highway. (“Open” meaning that there was one clear lane with no obstacles to go around.)”
–Thanks for that, Captain Obvious!

This is an example from book 1:

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).”
–Ooooh ok, I hadn’t caught that when the bus CRASHED and flipped sideways 30 seconds earlier.

Fortunately. these instances only appear a couple of times in each book. However this is not my only complaint on the writing. While reading, there are sentences andโ€ฆ peculiarities that stand out like a sore thumb, which both distracted and annoyed me. Here are some of them and maybe you’ll see what I mean:

“They had dirty faces and smelled not good.”
–You speak good.

“what I read in her expression went something like: Ah, this dumb kid feels like he’s getting pushed around so he’s taking a stand on a small, insignificant detail. But I guess if he needs to win this little victory for the sake of his pride, then I will give in.”
–That’s very facially talented! O_O

“Jean let me rub some toothpaste around on my gums so I wouldn’t have breath like I ate a donkey’s butt all day.”
–Gross! Worst analogy ever!

“He’s the worst person I ever met.
1) He had laid a trap for us.
2) We had fallen into the trap.
3) He still had a dad.”
–Umm ok, we better watch out for THIS badass villain!

Also, the most dangerous side effect of this chemical: “O monsters”! Yep. *snort*

Aside from this writing, I actually quite enjoyed the rest. With many characters, I was impressed that I was able to easily keep them all straight, and they became people I cared about–though some more than others. I also appreciated the neat way the recap was done with an ” in case we die” letter at the beginning. It was only 3 pages, but it completely set me right back to where we had left off as if no time had passed.

This time, the plot was a lot more exciting while still keeping the claustrophobic feel some loved from the first. This is achieved with two POVs: one from the supermarket, another from the outside, which raises the tension in the story, plus it answers the big question of what the outside has been like since this apocalypse. On this note, I found it to be a pretty realistic depiction of how people would act during such a catastrophe: violence and horror caused by other survivors are often the most dangerous of all. Although we still did not get answers as to what brought on the deadly chemicals, we do make some progress with which I was satisfied, knowing the explanations were (hopefully) saved for the final installment. Furthermore, since the outside POV constantly keeps us on edge, I actually enjoyed the more laid-back feel of the others in the supermarket this time, “playing house” as I called it in my review of book 1. It doesn’t stay quiet for long there either, however. Overall, it does become a pretty exciting novel and by the ending I was frantically turning the pages with my heart pounding. It’s really a shame that the writing puts such a damper on things.

The writing problems I had are not something new to this sequel, so if you loved the first you might not be bothered by it in Sky on Fire either. I did think it was a strong sequel which is rare in itself, and despite my complaints, I’m looking forward to the 3rd – Savage Drift!


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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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27 Responses to “Review: Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne”

  1. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Sounds like it needs a bit more editing! Hopefully, they’ll get it before the final goes out. I enjoyed the first one but haven’t read this one yet. I’m thinking a library read…

  2. Nick

    I think it would be really hard for me to ignore the writing style, so I don’t think this is a book that I’m going to enjoy to be honest. At least it’s action packed and a lot better than the first one.
    Lovely honest review, Giselle!

  3. Amy

    Haha! Yes, some of the writing bothered me too, but I liked this one better than the first. The first one just felt too boring to me, so I liked getting the two POV’s in this one. Surprisingly, like you I liked the store stuff when I would think I would be sick of it from the first. I think that Astrid and Dean toughened up more than the group on the outside did also. Fab review chicky!!!

  4. Christina

    Bahahaha, your comments on the writing are killing me. I’m reading this soon, and I’m glad you were able to give this three stars despite that. Very encouraging. There were a lot of issues with book one too, but it still had me really flipping pages, so I was hoping for that at least.

  5. Kristin@BloodSweatandBooks

    I’m glad you still enjoyed the book even with it’s writing quirks. I do think that when I read this I’ll be looking for these but oh well it will be fun counting the times these umm interesting sentences creep up. Great Review!

  6. Jennifer Messerschmidt

    haha when you lay out all those quotes it does seem annoying! I remember really enjoying the first so I guess I didn’t dwell on that part. I like seeing a group of random people work together. I did think the chemical monsters was a bit much. Still looking forward to seeing what the two groups will be doing next.

  7. Megan K.

    O_O I actually didn’t notice all those weird sentence structures (and annoying ones) when I read Monument 14! Strange. Now that you’ve pointed it out, though, no going back for me. Thanks, Giselle. *grumbles* LOL. I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy the sequel as much as you did, annoying sentences aside. Glad you found it pretty good overall. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. J. Anne Huss

    My son is reading the first book right now, but I haven’t read it. The phrasing does sound weird, like maybe the author was trying to make this character stupid? I mean, that’s the only reason I can see for leaving that style choice in there like that after editing – the character is deficient and she’s trying to get that point across through inappropriate word choices? :shrug: I was planning on reading this series, but I’ll probably pass. That writing style drove me crazy just reading the review. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Rebekah Campbell

    Haha! Oh my goodness, your reactions are absolutely hilarious! There’s nothing quite like being talked down to by the narrator so I’ll save myself the eye rolls and avoid this one, even though the rest of it is pretty good!
    Great review, Giselle ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Molli

    Yikkkkkes, that writing? I think that would annoy the heck out of me, TBH. I’d be like tunnel-visioning in on it. BUT, it’s good that this being the second one in the series, you liked it, and got through it. I mean, that says something, that the books are decent. I may read them someday!

  11. Lauren Elizabeth

    I’m having a bit of a hard time taking this book seriously after reading these quotes and your hilarious commentary ๐Ÿ˜€ I’m reading this soon so I’m sure I’m going to have an inner monologue going when I read these lines. Still I’m glad this was more exciting than the first book, and I hope I’ll enjoy it in spite of the hilariously obtuse writing. Wonderful review, and thanks for making me giggle, I needed that! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Millie

    Ahh! I get what you mean with the writing! It’s a good thing that it’s not a strong characteristic of Laybourne’s writing. Beside that, I’m super excited to get my hands on this book because the story has me hooked! Fantastic review!

    Millie @ Millie D’s Words

  13. Ariella Blake

    I’ve never actually read Monument 14 and by your description of her writing, I won’t be reading it. How do you ignore those annoying commentaries! It’s annoying so much and they were just little snippets -__- I better not read this series since I would probably go nuts… Great review, Giselle ๐Ÿ™‚

    -Ariella @ Secrets of Lost Words

  14. Eileen

    OMG I might go insane with the writing that you pointed out. I mean, I get a few quirks here and there but it sounds like there are WAY too many of these “quirks” (which when I say quirks I mean odd parts of something that don’t fit in with the rest.) I’m sorry, I had to. *hides under a rock from the wrath of everyone else*

    I’m glad you really loved the plot and the realistic style or everything, though! Even though this series seems to have its odd points, I might have to read it to see what I think of it.

    Fantastic review, Giselle! I’m glad you still enjoyed it and thought it was a strong sequel. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Dea S.

    I enjoyed a few writing quirks, like Patrick Ness’ in Chaos Walking trilogy, but this is a kind of eccentricity that can really drive me nuts. Judging from the quotes you included I can see why you didn’t give this a higher rating. It’s good that you enjoyed the plot though! I haven’t read the first book and I’m not really sure if I will. Thanks for the honest review Giselle!

  16. Sasha @ The Bookshelf

    Ooh, that “stating the obvious” style of narration would definitely get on my nerves. Glad that they aren’t too frequent in the book. The plot definitely seems interesting! I’ll have to give the first book in the series a go. Great review Giselle! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sasha @ The Bookshelf

  17. Dani

    The way you pointed out the quotes makes it sound horrible but if you read the quotes within the rest of the text, it really doesn’t sound that bad. We are reading from a somewhat immature teenage guy’s POV and I thought Emmy caught his voice perfect. She didn’t try to hard to sound like a teen but also didn’t leave me to believe that he was perfect in his speech as well.
    Also, I thought the NORAD chemicals came about when the earthquake happened. Granted there may have been a little assuming on my part but when the news anchors were explaining what had happened; tsunami, earthquake, NORAD – I got the feeling Emmy wanted us to believe the chemical leak came from the earthquake – maybe a crack in the holding facility??
    Can’t wait to get my hands on Sky on Fire. LOVED Monument 14!!

    • Giselle

      Hm well I did read the quotes within the rest of the text and they still felt very annoying for me. Especially being explained in brackets what the author means as if I’m not smart enough to get it myself. There are plenty of books written in an immature voice (like most YA) and they’re not that irritating.

      As for the explanation, we learn in this book that the government is hiding something. Albeit it’s from paranoid bikers but it leads the reader to think there is much more going on than just a simple earthquake. Also what we did hear from the news anchor was just them assuming since it was too early on for us to know very much. I wasn’t satisfied with the lack of explanation anyways. It was way too up in the air filled with assumptions and guesses which are not good enough for my scientific mind. Plus it’s hard to believe a random chemical would have those consequences if they’re naturally occurring from an earthquake. It just doesn’t make sense to me.