High school junior Dean is starting a normal day in his Colorado suburb, riding his school bus in a future not too different from now, where every child has a minitab that keeps them continuously connected to the Network. Suddenly, strange hail filled with stones and sticks inundates them so terribly that his bus crashes, killing the driver and over half the students. The survivors of the crash are helped into a nearby superstore by the resourceful driver of the nearby elementary school bus. She goes looking for help and eight teenagers are left to look after six small children as the world goes crazy.
From an old fashioned TV they learn that a volcanic eruption in the far away Canary Islands have set off a chain of catastrophes such as the strange hail and earthquakes which have caused the release of chemical weapons. Things are looking very bleak. How will these eight teenagers survive? Will they able to care for the six small children who have unexpectedly become their responsibility?
Monument 14 only covers 12 days, but an amazing amount of action is squeezed into less than two weeks. Like Ashfall (about which I previously posted), Monument 14 starts with a natural disaster that is beyond the control of people, but unlike Ashfall it then delves into the man made disaster of the released chemical weapons. Monument 14 focuses less on the action and more on the psychology of the previously carefree teenagers and the children who are now their responsibility. There are many characters to keep track of, but they are well drawn with some being likable and others distinctly less so. The teenagers already know each other from high school, but travel different social circles. The teenagers who were popular aren’t necessarily the ones best suited to the extremes of their new situation.
Monument 14 suggests that during an apocalyptic event a superstore is a great place to take shelter, as it has everything you might need–food, medicine, bedding, clothing, and camping supplies to start with. In reality, it may be a terrible place because everyone will want the same supplies and you may have to fight for them. In Monument 14, the store has strong, automatic “riot gates” that close and lock the children in. More importantly, it also locks everyone else out, but other people want to get in, adding to the tension and plot twists.
Monument 14 is another book published for teenagers that many adults will enjoy. It has enough action to keep you on the edge of your seat and enough post-apocalyptic problems and psychology to keep you thinking long after the last page. It ends in a cliffhanger and, according to the author’s website, the sequel, Monument 14: Sky on Fire, will come out in the summer of 2013. I can’t wait!
Check the WRL catalog for Monument 14.