By Emmy Laybourne
My Rating: 3 / 5
This book has been on my TBR list since I first heard about it, because I totally love survival stories. Here is the Goodreads summary:
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.
The story gets going pretty quickly, with a massive hail storm beginning while the main character, Dean, and the others are on the bus their way to school. Dean’s younger brother, Alex, is on another school bus headed to the elementary school. The students all end up in a Greenway ( a huge superstore), 14 in total. The sole adult leaves them with strict instructions to stay together and stay where they are, putting one of the teenagers (Jake) in charge, while she goes to get help.
I’ve said before how much I love survival stories, with regular people put in life or death situations with the sole goal being survival. This was definitely one of those stories! Not long after they’re left in the Greenway, the security gates roll down, essentially trapping them inside. They’re able to learn a little bit from a television in the electronics department, and what seems to have happened is that a major volcanic eruption has led to a ginormous tsunami and portions of the continent have been wiped out. To make matters worse, there’s been a chemical leak from a nearby NORAD building, and the chemicals are believed to affect people differently, depending on their blood type.
I liked this book. The characters weren’t easy to distinguish from each other initially, I think just because there were so many of them and things were pretty scrambled at first, but they developed into fairly distinct personalities. The bulk of the story is really about how they all survive for so many days in the store, how they relate to each other and make decisions.
Right from the start, Jake and another student, Niko, seem to be at odds over what they should be doing while they wait for help to come. Jake, who was left in charge by their bus driver, wants to make sure everyone stays relaxed and has a good time, while Niko thinks structure, order and routine would be best (me being me, I of course agreed with Niko!). Things got really tense when it was decided that everyone would vote on who should be in charge, and I actually felt really uneasy when Jake and his buddy Brayden were spending time drinking or taking whatever they found from the in-store pharmacy. Drugs and alcohol definitely seemed like things that would make being trapped in the store worse, but I could see how they were perhaps trying to cope with the fact that everyone in their town was either dead or evacuating, leaving them all alone.
The scariest part of the book, for me, was when someone showed up at the store asking to be let in. The kids couldn’t open the security gates, but also, there was a question of whether or not they should let someone in. Could they trust that someone asking for help wouldn’t hurt them? What if someone was in danger and wanted to come in for safety? What if someone was affected by the NORAD chemicals and dangerous?
This wasn’t a perfect book for me – sometimes the characters came across as stereotypes and the middle of the book was a bit slow, at least compared to the frenzy of the first part, and there are hints that it’s set sometime in the future but I couldn’t really tell what purpose that served – but I was definitely invested in finding out what happened, and I liked the relationship between Dean and his younger brother Alex. Despite the flaws, I liked seeing how each of the characters responded to the situation they were in.
Overall, I would recommend this book if you’re like me and like survival stories, but be warned that this isn’t very action-packed. I’m definitely looking forward to the sequel, Monument 14: Sky on Fire, which will be out later this year.