Monday, August 20, 2012

Great YA Pair

Today there's a double review as I recently finished two novels that I that I think work incredibly well together. They're not by the same author or even from the same publisher, but if at the end of either you find yourself wishing there was more (in a good way), the other one's there!

Monument 14 ~ Emmy Laybourne
Feiwel & Friends
June 5, 2012
294 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Book Depo/or Amazon

Dean and his brother are on their way to school, riding the school bus with a handful of other kids when a massive - massive - hailstorm starts. With the hailstones - some the size of basketballs - destroying cars and crushing their bus, they're forced to take refuge in the nearby Greenway.

The high schoolers - and the younger kids whose bus also went to the Greenway- don't think they'll be in the store for long . . . But as disasters strike the world outside, the Greenway seems the safest place. A chain big box store, it has food, medical supplies, blankets, everything they may need.

But just how long will they have to stay? And what will be left of the world outside once they're able to leave?

Perhaps wrongly so, I kept imagining Monument 14 as a sort of Where the Heart Is (the book by Billie Letts/movie where she lives in WalMart) meets 'The Mist.'*  

It was, actually, a bit like that. Without the happy Southern people and cute librarian and whatever I'm forgetting from 'The Mist,' but big, vague picture? Similar.

Similar and awesome. Monument 14 was a June read that I wanted to read a lot, didn't win, had a screw-up about with the library, then finally got . . . and I loved it. It's a fast read but most of that is because it's hard to put down. (In terms of reading level, though it is an easier read, the content and story will absolutely appeal to older readers.)

Told from the point of view of a male narrator, Dean, who is one of those trapped in the store, Monument 14 will hopefully be a great read for a wide audience. Whether you normally read things from the male pov or not, this one is really worth giving a try. Dean is not a hard narrator to connect with at all - male or female reader.

We see a wide variety of characters in the Greenway - and see how they effect each other and how the isolation, caring for the younger kids, and dealing with each other minute after minute, hour after hour effects them.

Similar to Life as We Knew It by Beth Pfeffer, the world outside their isolated environment is changing drastically and they're stuck inside, for safety. The wondering and the the tension are a great part of the story.

The ending of Monument 14 kind of killed me - I do hope there's more . . .and I almost hope there's not.

Rating: 9/10

No Safety in Numbers ~ Dayna Lorentz
May 29, 2012
263 pages
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Life As We Knew It meets Lord of the Flies in a mall that looks just like yours.
When a biological bomb is discovered in the air ducts of a busy suburban shopping mall, everyone inside is in danger. But almost no one knows it. With the entire mall quarantined, no one even knows for sure if the bomb is dangerous, but then people start getting sick.

Told through four teenage narrators, No Safety in Numbers shows us their attempts to deal with being stuck inside a mall, their attempts to escape, to deal with the rapidly changing environment and how the situation changes everyone. Not all changes are what they - or readers - would expect and not all are changes for the better.

With even adults behaving badly, can the teens make it through?

No Safety in Numbers is one to make you second guess that next trip to the mall. What starts out as an average day for everyone - a quick trip to pick up shoes, to spend time with friends or see a movie - soon turns into something drastically different.

It's great that we're introduced to all of the narrators in the calm, 'before' time. We get to see more of who they usually are, outside of such an extraordinary situation. As things gradually get more tense, more unsure and everyone starts to get more worried and more frenzied, we're then able to see how each of them reacts and see the changes in them. Seeing the changes is much better than just being introduced to them after the worry had set in.

Alternating perspectives also allows us to see the characters through other characters eyes. The different characters meet and interact with each other throughout the novel, allowing us to interpret their actions not only based on our own feelings, but those of others in the mall. Lorentz found realistic ways for their paths to cross, despite the number of people in the mall, and those interactions kept the story moving and gave insight to the characters.

There was not a lot of tension in No Safety in Numbers - despite the sickness, bomb presence. It was more about the characters and their tension, want to get leave. There was enough to keep you wanting to know if they'd manage an escape, if they'd get sick, if the quarantine would last, etc.

An enjoyable, quick read - I'm really hoping for some more from Lorentz!

Rating: 8/10

Pair them up:

Monument 14 and No Safety in Numbers are great to read one after the other - or close together. One has a world where the outside is the danger and the inside is safe; one has a world where the outside i safe and the inside is the danger. In both, everyone needs to stay in but really wants out.

Filled with great characters most of whom are together by circumstance, both books leave you wondering what will happen from one page to the next. There's tension and suspense in them both.

If you like one, I highly believe you'll like the other.

*don't try figuring my brain out


  1. Two of my favorite types of books! I have Monument 14 waiting for me on my Kindle...I need to get to it ASAP. Hadn't heard of the other one, but now it's being added to my TBR list! Thanks!

  2. Great dual review, and I've got both of these on my birthday *wish list*! :D

  3. I've read Monument 14 and absolutely loved it. And when I finished it my first thought was "I wish there were more books like this!" I'm definitely going to check out No Safety in Numbers. Thanks for pointing it out!


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