Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Monument 14: Sky On Fire by Emmy Laybourne (Review)

Young Adult, Science Fiction, Apocalyptic, Thriller
Publication.Date  May 28th 2013 (US hardcover), 
Published By:  Feiwel & Friends 
WebsiteEmmy Laybourne 

Sky On Fire on Goodreads
My review copy:Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get:

The world hasn't ended...yet.

In this sequel to MONUMENT 14, the group of survivors, originally trapped together in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters, has split in two. Most of the kids are making a desperate run on their recently repaired school bus for the Denver airport where they hope to reunite with their parents, be evacuated to safety, and save their dying friend. 

But the world outside is dark and filled with dangerous chemicals that turn people into bloodthirsty monsters, and not all the kids were willing to get on the bus. Left behind in a sanctuary that has already been disturbed once, the remaining kids try to rebuild the community they lost. But when the issues are life and death, love and hate, who can you really trust?

The last time I'd been on this roof we hadn't known anything about the compounds. We had watched the cloud going up from NORAD, thirty miles away. The last time I'd been on this roof I tried to kill my brother.
By my watch, I knew it was 6:07 a.m.
But it was dark, dark, dark.
Morning was never coming, it seemed.

"Honey, I don't understand that story. What does it mean?"
"It means stick with the dog you know, Auntie Jean", Max told her. "Stick with the dog you know."

     Sky On Fire is a great second instalment in the Monument 14 series. I am happy to report that I enjoyed it just as much (OK, maybe even a little bit more) than the first book. In this gritty and blood-chilling tale of survival, Emmy Laybourne takes us on yet another wild roller coasted ride filled with scenes of true epicness, including a chainsaw massacre moment and a bus ride through hell on earth. 

     The second book picks up exactly where the first one left off. The kids are no longer together. The hiding place at the local Greenway supermarket is no longer safe. Bad things happened there, one of the kids got shot and he requires immediate medical attention in order to survive. And so the kids decide that it's time to take matters into their own hands and try their luck on the road. Their plan is to get to Denver International Airport where the government has set up an evacuation centre. Not all the kids can go, though. The moment they breathe in the toxic air, those with B blood type turn into bloodthirsty monsters. They decide to stay behind and wait for the others to get help. Separated, mentally and physically exhausted and terrified beyond words, the kids from Monument continue to fight for survival. 

     Sky On Fire is definitely an exciting and entertaining addition to the series. I had a lot of fun reading this book, though I was also a little bit disappointed to see that there wasn't much improvement in terms of character development. Like in the first book, the plot was filled to the brim with gasp-worthy action sequences and unexpected plot developments. There were no slow moments or boring passages. Quite honestly, at times reading this book felt more like reading a script for a Hollywood action movie. One crazy plot development after another, complete with scenes of sex and violence. In terms of entertainment Monument 14: Sky On Fire definitely delivers. 

     I really enjoyed the two different POVs. They made the narration more flavorful and dynamic, adding an extra kick to the already explosive cocktail. We still had Dean's (slightly douchy) POV from the inside of the supermarket, but now we also had Alex' (Dean's little brother) POV on the outside. Dark, empty and unsafe, the supermarket location felt even more suffocating and claustrophobic. And the outside world was no better. With dangerous people all around, deadly fumes in the air, weird mold growing on tires and debris  everywhere you look, the outside world resembled a vicious predator. 

     For the most part, I liked where the story went. I loved the sense of urgency and racing against time. It made for quite an intense reading experience. I was flipping through the pages like a maniac. There were, however, moments when I was surprised (and not in a good way) by some of the plot developments. It's really hard to discuss all that without giving away major plot points, so let me just say that I wish some of the issues were handled differently. What I'm talking about is the relationship between Dean and Astrid and Jake and Astrid. I thought their love triangle (if we can even call it that) was handled rather poorly. 

     The writing didn't improve much, but it was decent. I found some of the sentences and expressions to be a little bit awkward or repetitive, but most of the time I was too focused on the action to be bothered by that. Simple, raw and straightforward, the style of the prose fit the story perfectly. 

     Sky On Fire is most certainly a powerful sequel. It's a hold-on-tight-to-your-pants type of book, that is just as creepy as it is entertaining, and just as disturbing as it is fun to read. I can't wait for the third book!

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