Jan 7, 2014

Monument 14 - Sky on Fire, (book 2) by Emmy Laybourne

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Click to read my review of book 1 -- Monument 14.
Click to read my review of book 3 -- Monument 14: Savage Drift

Intended Age-Group: 9th grade & up
Issues of Violence: gun fights, deaths from post-apocalyptic disasters, fist fighting, murders in various way (with a chainsaw, with a gun, possibly with drugs, etc.)
Intimacy Level: kissing, nudity, sex
Language: Use of "God," "Christ", and "Jesus" for exclamations. Hell, SOB, b****,  a**,
Other: Underage drinking/intoxication, drug use, conversations revolving around sex, drugs, "getting high", hallucinations from air toxin, violent animal-like behavior from air toxin, underage smoking, etc.
Recommendation: 3.5 out of 5 stars with high reservations (see end of entry)

Back-Cover Blurb
Trapped in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters, including a monster hailstorm and terrifying chemical weapons spill, brothers Dean and Alex learned how to survive and worked together with twelve other kids to build a refuge from the chaos. But then strangers appeared, destroying their fragile peace, and bringing both fresh disaster and a glimmer of hope.

Knowing that the chemical weapons saturating the air outside will turn him into a bloodthirsty rage monster, Dean decides to stay in the safety of the store with Astrid and some of the younger kids. But their sanctuary has already been breached once. . . .

Meanwhile, Alex, determined to find their parents, heads out into the darkness and devastation with Niko and some others in a recently repaired school bus. If they can get to Denver International Airport, they might be evacuated to safety. But the outside world is even worse than they expected. . .

Initial Reaction: *****
There's really one word to describe this book: terrifying. It's my own fault for starting it at 10:30pm. But as post-apocalyptic world-building goes, Laybourne wins the gold. It was terrifying, yet oddly captivating, and even now--a month after finishing it--I want to re-read the series. I want book 3 to come out.


1. Characters: *****
Characters are even more believable and relatable than with book one. At first I was skeptical about how it now followed both Alex and Dean's point-of-view (POV), but Laybourne delivered a dual POV with flying colors. I never, for a moment, regretted switching POVs. Both were equally interesting, captivating, and had different voices.

2. Frighteningly realistic. As we followed Alex's POV out into the crazed world, people acted as I'd expect them. You had the crazies who wanted to survive, the crazies who wanted to steal from people, the few kind people who were willing to help, the travelers who just wanted to find a new place of safety. Even the way the government was portrayed to handle this situation of world disaster was believable.

3. Intense. Oh my goodness, I sweat more through this book than my best workout. The ending. What can I say? The ending. I don't think I was breathing. If this ever turns into a movie, the audience may just pass out.

4. Spiritual Content: *****
This comes specifically with the growth of prayer. In book one, Monument 14, God is somewhat ridiculed through the actions and attitude of a certain character. In this one, though, as life grew more intense and on the brink of hopelessness, the characters started turning to prayer. It was neat to see the switch. The changes in character. And, the answers to prayer. It seemed natural, like what I would expect--a certain reach toward God when the realization of death and short life is clear in one's mind. 

1. Violence A lot of violence. Fighting, fleeing, murders, more fighting, more fleeing, panic, darkness, etc. But what do you expect in a post-apocalyptic book where half the people roaming around outside are infected with compounds that make them turn into enraged monsters?

2. Sensuality There is sex in this book with some small descriptions about it, too. This goes against what I believe -- spiritually and morally -- is appropriate for teenagers to do or read.

3. Others: Drinking and drugs were used in a few places throughout the novel. There was also a moment when all of the little kids and underage kids chose to smoke profusely in order to kill out the compounds in the air. I can understand in the situation, but this may affect younger readers differently than it ought -- just something to be aware of.

Overall Recommendation: (3.5 stars)

This book is dark. It's scary. Did I say it's dark and scary? But it's so brilliantly written and engaging. There are also many mature themes I find beyond the intended age group, yet the story is delivered flawlessly. (Can you tell I'm conflicted?)
I leave it to your discretion. I'm not sure if I'll put them away forever or read them again.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at http://nadinebrandes.com.

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