Author: Emmy Laybourne

Sky on Fire (Monument 14 #2) by Emmy Laybourne (Book Review)

Posted June 17, 2013 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 13 Comments

Sky on Fire (Monument 14 #2) by Emmy Laybourne (Book Review)Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne
Series: Monument 14 #2
Also in this series: Monument 14
Published by Feiwel and Friends on May 28, 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Post-Apocalyptic, Survival
Pages: 212
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
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4 Stars
Trapped in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters, including a monster hailstorm and terrifying chemical weapons spill, brothers Dean and Alex learned how to survive and worked together with twelve other kids to build a refuge from the chaos. But then strangers appeared, destroying their fragile peace, and bringing both fresh disaster and a glimmer of hope.

Knowing that the chemical weapons saturating the air outside will turn him into a bloodthirsty rage monster, Dean decides to stay in the safety of the store with Astrid and some of the younger kids. But their sanctuary has already been breached once. . . .

Meanwhile, Alex, determined to find their parents, heads out into the darkness and devastation with Niko and some others in a recently repaired school bus. If they can get to Denver International Airport, they might be evacuated to safety. But the outside world is even worse than they expected. . . .

If you read my review of Monument 14 last summer, you know I got quite attached to the children in this series. I’m not sure if it’s because I work with children all the time, or what, but I just had to know what happened to all of them–especially the ones who drove off in search of help at the end of the last book. What a cliffhanger to end on! Luckily, Sky on Fire picks up right where we left off and it does not take too much time to refresh your memory before being thrown right back into the action. As always, my main points are bolded.

1. I feel like there was a lot more action in this installment. Half the kids are driving a torn up bus through the ravaged towns and cities in search of a way to a safer world. Their goal is to make it to the Denver airport. All the while, they are trying to keep exposure to the atmosphere at a minimum, due to the dangerous effects of the chemicals in the air. This part of the story was the most exciting, and had me flying through the pages. The kids get attacked, their bus gets stolen, they find a little humanity left in the world, and they really get pushed to the limits. I was SO scared for them as I read.

2. And then we have the kids who stayed back at the store. Most of them become aggressive, murderous monsters when exposed to the chemicals, so they end up waiting things out in the hopes that their friends bring back rescuers. They are faced with their challenges as well including walls being torn down and letting the chemicals in, losing their electricity, and dealing with intruders.

3. I really like how the story flips back and forth between the two brothers, Alex and Dean. Alex, the younger brother, decided to go off in the bus with Niko and the others, while Dean stayed back with a pregnant Astrid and the little ones. We get to read Dean’s story as it happens, and Alex’s in the form of a journal he kept as a letter to Dean in case they didn’t make it.

4. Because such a huge part of the story takes place outside of the store, we finally get to see what’s really going on in the world during this time. The chemicals have absolutely decimated the place. These chemicals are so powerful, that they dissolve rubber after a few hours. The few remaining survivors are pretty much insane, heartless, or not even human anymore. The world has been plunged into complete darkness. Scary! I really liked seeing what’s been going on outside the store.

5. Alex really shown in this novel, whereas I hardly remember him as being anything more than annoying in the first one. He has had to grown up, mature, and learn to remain level-headed. I liked reading his thoughts much more than Dean’s this time around.

6. Dean’s chapters were rather monotonous. There’s only so much that can happen in a store, and though some more intruders arrive and a romance blooms (one I’m not so sure I like, for that matter), I really looked forward to getting back to Alex.

7. Our supporting characters do not play the same dynamic roles this time around, and I really did not get to hear much about them. I missed little doomsday priest Batiste, although he is there piping in every once in a while. I think a little character development had to fall to the wayside since Alex was writing about his impressions, not giving us a play-by-play of what everyone is up to. Honestly, I didn’t mind much. I was so interested in what was going on, and how things would turn out, that I didn’t crave the dialogue between characters as much as I would have if they had all stayed in the store.

8. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. SO much happened! I had to keep reminding myself that these kids had only been living like this for a couple of weeks, because it’s insane how much happens to them and how long it takes to get places.

9. I was super satisfied with the ending (holy crap, it was tense and insane) until the last paragraph or so. I was thinking we were done, but BOOM. Cliffhanger! We are not done with kids of Monument yet, and I’m kind of excited to see where things go next.

All in all, Sky on Fire is a great read. It’s fast, action-packed, and I love those kids! I just want to squeeze them and save them from their world. They still have the strong determination to survive that they did in Monument 14, and I just LOVE watching children being portrayed in books as strong. I still love how much they care for each other. They are tenacious and smart, and they work with what they have. I just loved reading about them. Definitely read this book if enjoyed Monument 14, because I’m pretty sure I like this one better!


Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne (Book Review)

Posted June 14, 2012 by Jana in Book Review, Young Adult / 19 Comments

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne (Book Review)Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
Series: Monument 14 #1
Also in this series: Sky on Fire
Published by Feiwel and Friends on June 5, 2012
Genres: Post-Apocalyptic, Survival
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
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.

Wow. This book was SO different than anything I’ve read before, but I actually really loved it. I was in the process of reading Monument 14 when I got to meet Emmy at the Fierce Reads author tour stop near me a few days ago. I loved hearing her talk about her book, because it made me understand and enjoy the story even more. She said that this book is pretty dark, and that a lot of sad things happen to wonderful characters. Originally, so wondered what was wrong with her. Why would she do that? She answered that question for us. She said she did it so that her characters would be able to show heir humanity towards one another. That even during the darkest, most bleak times of our lives, we humans will do what we can to let our light shine through from within. I loved that thought, and I immediately went home from the tour and devoured the rest of the book. I’m SO glad I read it, and I am eagerly awaiting the next one. As always, my main points are bolded. :)

1. What a unique idea for a story! Think of any survival story you’ve read or seen in movies/TV: Castaway, Survivor, Lost, Hatchet, Lord of the Flies, etc. Then put those survivors in a huge superstore (like Target or Walmart) and you’ve got Monument 14. The world outside the riot gates that they were trapped behind was completely falling apart: natural disasters, chemical spills that affected people depending on their blood type (some people blistered up and died, some became vicious and attacked others, some became incredibly paranoid, and some lost all their reproductive function.), scary people trying to get in, injuries and sickness, depression. These kids went through all of it.

2. I loved the characters. These kids were amazing, and made the entire story. And when I say kids, these kids are KIDS. There were a few older teenagers, and then a bunch of little littles, like 5 years old. The little ones were adorable, and just like the kids I’ve taught at school. They warmed my heart, and were so sweet. Batiste was a bit of a mini doomsday priest, but lightened up when he got to assist Dean (the MC and chef) in cooking really detailed meals for the rest of them. Niko, a boy scout, is appointed as leader and has to keep everyone safe. Josie becomes the level-headed mommy of the group. Alex (Dean’s brother) takes care of the logistics and electronics. Everyone has a job, and everyone does it. Some of them start of resistant and very immature (and downright jerky), but grow into adults very quickly. They all became so mature and responsible. I loved seeing these young people grow. They really did shine through the darkness to take care of each other and provide.

3. They were so smart! I loved what they did with the store. The renovated the dressing room to serve as bedrooms, they blocked off a “dump” for trash and bodily functions, they sealed off the vents from the outside so the chemicals would not come in, they took baths with bottled water, they knew how to use the pharmacy, etc. The older kids knew what to say to the little ones to make them feel better. I loved reading about all of this. So often, kids are labeled as being naive and unable to do anything for themselves. As a teacher, I know that this is not true. Some of my students have taught me more than the adults in my life. I really appreciate Emmy for allowing these kids to reach their fullest potential. Kids deserve more credit than they get.

4. The fight for survival was amazing to read. I love reading about people who gain courage and determination when they are faced with the decision to sit and take it, or to get up and fight for their lives. We got to see a different part of these characters as the need to survive grew bigger, and time was running out.

5. This story was SO fast-paced! There was no down time or time to recover. One thing after another after another happened. I was tearing through the book to see what happened. Emmy told us at the signing that her brother compared the book’s plot to, “being handcuffed and thrown down a flight of stairs. It just goes bam, bam, bam, bam!” I totally agree! Haha. And then when it’s all over, you’re just laying there going, “Whoa…”

6. Emmy’s writing is wonderful. She’s an amazing storyteller. The details and word choice she used made the story an experience, rather than a book.

I’m going to quit while I’m ahead, because I want to give you the chance to experience this for yourself. Haha. I know the bulk of my review focused mostly on the characters, but that’s because they were what brought me back to the book when I had spare time. If Emmy had thrown a different bunch of people together, I’m not sure it would have been such a powerful and moving read. Maybe it’s just because I’ve worked with so many little kids, but the message behind the book was inspiring. I really can’t wait to see what happens next!

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