Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Monument 14
by Emmy Laybourne

“Your mother hollers that you're going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don't stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don't thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not- you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.
Only, if it's the last you'll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you'd stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.
But the bus was barreling down our street so I ran.” 

Dean is on his way to school, sometime in the near future, when the apocalypse hits. A massive volcano sets of a chain of events (hail storms, earthquakes, tidal waves) that lead to the bus crashing right outside a Greenway (basically a Walmart). Kids die and the survivors take shelter in the store. The earthquakes lead to chemical weapons escaping from NORAD, and soon no one can go outside without risk of contamination and violent reactions. Dean and the kids (ranging from kindergarten to high school) must work together to survive in the midst of of the most devastating disaster in the nation's history.

As you know, I love survival books. This is probably one of my favorites. It has a milder Lord of the Flies feel, with hormones raging, but not to the extent of the classic. Alliances are forged and broken, love is found and lost. Yet, we never really get too close to any of the characters. They are all still mysteries in Dean's eyes. You get the feeling that you can never really know a person, even if you are locked in a Walmart with them during the apocalypse. The kids are smart, blocking ventilation, creating zones, using resources wisely, creating a home and a routine for the younger kids, finding ways to communicate with the outside world. You wonder how long this community can last and if their destruction will be internal or external. The ending is surprisingly the end of a section, but hardly the end of their story. I am not at all surprised to find out that there are several more books in this world after the end of the story, and I can't wait to read them!

REVIEW: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Out of the Easy 
by Ruta Sepetys

“We all laced together—a brothel madam, an English professor, a mute cook, a quadroon cabbie, and me, the girl carrying a bucket of lies and throwing them like confetti.”

Josie Moraine is the daughter of a prostitute in 1950s New Orleans, but she will not let that define her. Her mother is shallow, cruel and thoughtless, so Josie finds family elsewhere: the savvy, ball-busting madam of the most famous whorehouse in the city, a mixed race cab driver named Cokie, the owner of a bookstore where she works and his son. When her mother's old flame returns to town and a man is murdered, Josie struggles against her background to get out of New Orleans and find a promising future. But will the past drag her down?

Quick and dirty review: I loved this book. The characters were so complex and well-drawn. The world of 1950s New Orleans was so rich! And the plot always kept me guessing. I was a little dissatisfied with the ending, but it did not spoil my enjoyment of Josie, her friends or her fight to forge a new life for herself. The language is beautiful without feeling unnatural. Josie has a smart, direct, yet soulful voice. I highly recommend this book!