Thursday, January 18, 2018

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

This review is centered on the book titled Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne. 

This book is about a group of kids ranging from early elementary through high school who face a series of disasters, both natural and chemical, who have to use their wits, smarts and skills to manage on their own after they find themselves holed up in a department store that I picture as something resembling a Walmart or Meijer.

The kids are left on their own in the store after being saved from their bus that crashed but before it exploded, killing the driver.  Saving them was a second bus driver who drives through the wall of the department store in order to save them all from the gigantic hail that is raining down on them.  The second bus driver eventually leaves the kids in order to find help.  It is only after she leaves that everyone realizes that his or her troubles go well beyond some giant hail.  Chemicals have been released into the air that causes different reactions in people depending on what blood type each person is.

The kids must formulate a plan as many huge decisions must be made centering on how things get done, who will be the leader, how they will defend themselves, how they will survive each new challenge and what to do when others approach the store wanting in, claiming that they want to seek refuge.

I thought that this was an entertaining book.  I would like to read the rest of the series so I know what happens in the end.  I do have concerns about the appropriateness of this book for students.  Considering that there is sex, drugs, alcohol, teenage pregnancy and sexual assault, I feel that there is a lot of matter within the book that may not be appropriate for certain audiences.  My main concern is the very relaxed feel that the author wrote with concerning the drugs and alcohol.  I was not a fan of how casual it seemed for her to write that the first time things got tough, she had some characters turn to drugs and alcohol right away in order to deal with their problems.  I get that in the story, there were no adults most of the time to help these kids with their feelings.  However, it also seems like an opportunity for an author of adolescent literature to perhaps touch on the thoughts of kids dealing with the stress through drugs and alcohol, but ultimately direct the characters in the story to deal with it in a healthier way as an example for the young people who are reading the book.  I realize this may sell less books, however, coming from my perspective, it would make me more comfortable having my students read it, let alone my own children.

That being said, I cautiously recommend this book for older students.  Preferably, seniors, possibly some juniors, but I would be careful whom I let read it because I fear that some may take its content as a viable option on how to deal with stress.  This may seem like a stretch to some, but from my perspective as the person, parent, education student and adult who currently works with children, that I am today, I do think that suggestive things like in this book and others in print, movies, television and other media can and does affect some of our youth today in ways that older generations did not have to deal with.