Sky on Fire (Monument 14 #2)
by Emmy Laybourne
Feiwel & Friends, 2013
Previous Installment: Monument 14
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?
After reading Monument 14 last year, I was looking forward to seeing how the series would continue, considering the very open ending. Thankfully, Sky on Fire picks up right where the first book left off, with two different journeys taking place via alternating viewpoints. Whereas Monument 14 was a bit of a light post-apocalyptic read, considering the confined environment that the kids are living in, Sky on Fire is much darker, more gritty and doesn’t shy away from the fallout of the explosion at the plant that’s released chemical warfare compounds into the air. While I’m not necessarily one for horror in any aspect, I did appreciate the fact that Ms. Laybourne didn’t shy away from her descriptions of the horrors the kids face. All of their experiences really helped ground the book and kept me eagerly turning the pages.
My one complaint about this book is that, despite the fact that it is compulsively readable and really grabs hold of the reader, the way the book is written comes across as stilted in many parts. I especially noticed that there seemed to be several instances where things were explained when elaboration really wasn’t necessary. I don’t know if that was simply to remind the readers that the narrators are themselves quite young, or what, but I personally found it unnecessary and a bit like the author was talking down to whomever was reading.
I also never really emotionally connected with either of the people telling the story. While the book is definitely gripping – I read it all the way through in one sitting – it didn’t impact me on an emotional level like I was hoping it would, aside from a vague desire to have everyone reunited with their loved ones. Now, this might be because the last book I read literally punched me in the gut and not through any flaw of Sky on Fire itself, so do take that with a grain of salt. Obviously, your mileage may vary!
Ultimately I think that, if you liked Monument 14, you will likewise enjoy Sky on Fire. It is definitely a solid continuation of the series, where things are ratcheted up and the danger and suspense are much more ever-present. Based on the ending, it looks like there might be a third book in the works; should Ms. Laybourne write one, I will certainly give it a read!
An e-galley was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Briliant cover! Sounds really interesting!
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Hmm, the stilted feel to this one might turn me off, but I won’t know until I try it! I am sort of into the whole premise of these books, although until recently I did not realize it was a series. I’ve read some good and some negative reviews, which always makes me really curious about the book/series. I’ll have to get my hands on the first one for sure!
The strange way of writing is something I’ve noticed has bothered pretty much everyone who wrote the book. It kind of reminded me of Lemony Snicket, where he’d explain larger words that the reader may not have known. Except, while it fit with that story and made sense (there were some words I didn’t even know myself), it was just really unnecessary here. Particularly a line about the open road not having anything they’d run into. I mean, OBVIOUSLY that’s what it means, you know? So that was rather obnoxious.
I did like the first one a lot. The kids cracked me up. I think that one had more humor, because their situation wasn’t quite as dire. This one was very much a life-or-death book.
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