Monument 14 (review)
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Reviewed by
Laybourne, Emmy. Monument 14. Feiwel, 2012. [304p]. ISBN 978-0-312-56903-7 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 8-12.

When a vicious hailstorm sends traffic into deadly chaos, a quick-thinking school-bus driver brings the fourteen kids in her charge to safety by crashing directly into the Greenway megastore in Monument, Colorado. While she goes off for help, the students, who range from kindergarten through high school, realize they could be a lot worse off. National Connectivity, the national wireless service in 2024, is down, but there's electricity, plenty of food (one girl knows how to work the pizza oven), and the comfort of knowing they are surrounded by anything they could need to ride out bad weather. No self-respecting survival-story author, though, will let the kids off that easily. The hail was triggered by a volcanic eruption, which caused a tsunami and earthquakes, which released chemical weapons under development at [End Page 29] the Colorado NORAD site. (Now, that's more like it.) While narrator Dean lusts after Astrid, his computer-geek brother rigs an old-school television to monitor the news, several kids have reactions to the airborne chemicals, the football stars get stoned (handy, that pharmacy), desperate outsiders try to break in, little kids variously wallow in junk food or panic, the sophomore girl tries to seduce the stoners, and just about anything you think might happen does. The star of this outing is probably the megastore itself, and much of the reader's pleasure derives from imagining just how you'd deploy the endless supply of stuff at hand for survival and pure hedonism. Laybourne keeps most of her cast alive but splits them into evacuees and store-dwellers by tale's end, which surely means there's more cinematic mayhem to come. Pass the five-pound bag of corn chips.

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