Monument 14

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Monument 14 Book Poster Image
Suspenseful survival story will grip teen readers.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 12 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational value

In Monument 14, the setup of the central predicament requires a highly unlikely number of simultaneous catastrophes. But once the main conflict is established, events proceed logically, and the author presents a convincing portrait of what it might be like to survive in an abandoned big-box store.

Positive messages

Monument 14 is a novel of survival in extraordinary circumstances. The characters have to learn to put aside their own fears and selfish concerns in order to work together for their mutual benefit.

Positive role models & representations

Even at the beginning of Monument 14, Dean, the narrator, is a sensitive, well-meaning kid who looks after his younger brother, Alex, and the other junior high and grade school kids. Under pressure, he sometimes backslides into thoughtless behavior, but by the end of the novel, he's ready to face the uncertain future head-on and assume responsibility for himself and others.

Violence

Vividly depicted scenes of violence include a bloody fistfight among the older boys, an episode of uncontrolled rage caused by weapons-grade chemicals, and a shooting that leaves one character dead and another grievously wounded. Some characters recount an interrupted sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl, but the narator doesn't witness it himself. 

Sex

Even in their dire situation, sex is on the minds of Dean and the other older characters in Monument 14. Dean has a crush on blond cheerleader Astrid and spies on her as she allows a high school boy to fondle her bare breasts. Fourteen-year-old Sahalia dress and acts provocatively around the older boys. Another character is revealed to be pregnant.

Language

Infrequent use of profanity, including "son of a bitch," "hell," "damn," and "d--k." Stronger words are even rarer and are written in the text with elisions, such as "a-hole" and "F____!"

Consumerism

Given the book's setting -- a big-box store filled with products -- it's not surprising that many brands are mentioned, including Advil, Popsicle, Barbie, MickeyD's, KitchenAid, and more. But none is particularly endorsed, and the author usually chooses fake names ("Pizza Stop") or generic phrases when there's no need for specificity.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Because of their high level of stress and their access to a free, nearly unlimited supply of alcohol, Dean and some of the other older characters in Monument 14 drink heavily one night and then regret their actions the next morning. One character raids the store's pharmacy for painkillers and steroids and withdraws into a nearly perpetual pill-and-booze haze.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Monument 14 is a cleverly constructed suspense novel of survival that's entirely set in a big-box superstore in the wake of a somewhat far-fetched catastrophe. There's some vividly depicted violence, including a deadly shooting, a bloody fistfight, and the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl that some characters recount but the narrator doesn't witness himself. An older boy fondles an older girl's bare breasts. Some of the older teen characters drink heavily one night and then regret their actions the next morning. One character raids the store's pharmacy for painkillers and steroids and withdraws into a nearly perpetual pill-and-booze haze. Cursing is infrequent, and the strongest curses are written with dashes and other elisions.

User Reviews

Parent of a 7, 10, and 12 year old Written byTabby D. October 4, 2017

My 12 yo son loved the story...I hate the content issues

My 12 yo son got a hold of this book through his middle school library during a book swap. All in all, he loved the story. He was very uncomfortable with the se...
Kid, 12 years old January 31, 2013

Some awkward moments, unbelievable plot, excessively short

The book includes lots of references to specific products, such as Mc Donalds, Wendies, Mtn Dew, ect. It also has some awkward moments involving "second b...
Kid, 12 years old April 23, 2014

Monument 14 (Maybe next time you can use less inappropriate material Emmy...hmm??? ;-;)

I loved all the action and suspense of the book...but...there was ALOT of unneeded violence, drinking/drugs, swearing, and sexual references (and also some cons...

What's the story?

A series of natural and man-made catastrophes traps a busload of 14 students, ranging from elementary school to high school, inside a Greenway super-store in Monument, Colo. Over the next 12 days, they must learn to work together in order to survive poisonous gas, violent visitors, and their own weaknesses and fears.

Is it any good?

Although its set-up is a tad far-fetched, MONUMENT 14 is a clever and compelling one-set suspense novel. The characters are well defined, even the grade schoolers. Author Emmy Laybourne finds ways to keep the tension high throughout and devises an ending that feels both realistic and satisfying.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how having Monument 14 entirely set in one place adds to the suspense and drama. What effect did it have on you as a reader? 

  • How does Monument 14 compare with other post-disaster stories you've read or movies you've seen? 

  • If you had complete access to a superstore like Greenway, what items would you choose for yourself? How would you choose what you really needed to survive, rather than just what you would enjoy?

Book details

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