Monument 14: Sky on Fire

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
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Post-apocalyptic thriller sequel ups the action, tension.

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

The setup of the central predicament in Monument 14: Sky on Fire requires a highly unlikely number of simultaneous catastrophes. But, given the unlikely premise, events proceed logically, and the author presents a convincing portrait of what it might be like to survive a continent-spanning catastrophe.

Positive Messages

Monument 14: Sky on Fire is a novel of survival in extraordinary circumstances. The book emphasizes the importance of cooperation in the face of adversity. It also spotlights compassion for the weak and having resolve in opposition to corrupt leadership.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dean and Alex are the two first-person protagonists of Monument 14: Sky on Fire, and the brothers share a belief in doing what's right rather than what's easiest for them personally. Each is willing to sacrifice his own happiness to protect other, weaker members of the group. Dean's situation is complicated by his having been exposed to a chemical compound that causes him to experience uncontrollable rage.


There are many violent scenes. Young children are in mortal danger throughout. Military cadets assault younger kids and threaten them with guns. Dean uses a chainsaw to kill an attacker and later shoots someone to death in a struggle. A father and son capture kids in a backyard pit trap. Later, the father is killed. 


Astrid, an older teen, is secretly pregnant. Dean has a crush on her, and he is at first rebuffed. But then they have sex when under the influence of a compound that makes them lose their inhibitions. The incident is not described in detail.


Given the severity of their situation, it's somewhat surprising that the characters don't indulge in more profanity. "Hell" is used a handful of times, but, more often, the characters choose substitutes such as "godforsaken," "a--hole," or "freakin'."


Set partially in a big-box store, Monument 14: Sky on Fire features a handful brand-name products (Kingsford, Advil, Popsicle). 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The return of drug-addicted Jake and the arrival of a group of rogue military cadets lead to scenes involving drugs and alcohol. Their partying is viewed by the other characters as dangerous and uncool. Astrid and Dean give tranquilizers to their enemies.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Monument 14: Sky on Fire is a fast-paced, suspenseful, post-apocalyptic thriller with an engaging cast of young characters. The plot picks up exactly where the first volume in the series left off, with one group of kids on their way to Denver Airport in a school bus and the other hiding out in a big-box store. The language is pretty mild, with only a handful of uses of "hell." There's some sexual content: 17-year-old Astrid is pregnant, and she and Dean have sex while under the influence of a compound that makes them lose their inhibitions. Young children are in mortal danger throughout, and the level of violence is high. Rogue military cadets threaten younger children with guns. A father and son capture unwary kids in a pit trap. Dean and Astrid kill intruders with guns and a chainsaw.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byReesehigdonboi April 11, 2018

A little less action but still the same AWSOME

I think that this book has a little more room for action than romance and troubles with relationships but the series is the best I’ve ever read since I’ve known... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bybiovox14 August 17, 2017

Lighter content, in great sequel

So this was another great book, and served well as a sequel, creative, so on. The violence is violent, but not terrible. No language, and one sex scene, thats n... Continue reading

What's the story?

At the start of MONUMENT 14: SKY ON FIRE, the 14 survivors of the mysterious disaster that hit Monument, Colo., have split into two groups. Thirteen-year-old Alex is on a school bus with an assortment of other teens and younger kids headed toward Denver Airport, in the hope that someone can help their critically wounded friend Brayden. Meanwhile, Alex's brother Dean is still holed up at the Greenway big-box store, waiting for rescue and afraid that he and 17-year-old Astrid will turn into rage-crazed killers if exposed to the air outside. Both groups will have to fight off thieves and bullies who prey on the weak and unwary, before an even bigger threat to their survival arrives.

Is it any good?

Monument 14: Sky on Fire avoids the pitfalls that often catch second books in a trilogy. Instead of only marking time before a presumably exciting conclusion, the bifurcated plot keeps moving ahead into new territory, delivering scenes filled with tension, action, and well-handled character work.

Author Emmy Laybourne makes the two narrative strands work well together, providing twists and cliffhangers galore. What's not particularly clear is how all these disasters come to happen at once. No one in the novel seems to worry about it much, so perhaps the reader shouldn't, either.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why apocalyptic literature is currently so popular. Why do readers like stories in which disaster has struck and toppled civilization?

  • What character traits makes a good leader? Can a strength in one situation be a liability in another?

  • After a disaster, what are some good strategies to preserve resources? What disasters should families prepare for?

Book details

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