Friday, January 10, 2014

Review: Sky on Fire (Monument 14, #2)


Sky on Fire (Monument 14, #2)Author:  Emmy Laybourne
Series: Monument 14, #2
Published: November 7th 2013
Publisher: Hodder Children's
Format: Paperback, 288 pgs
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

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. . .
There really aren’t that many post-apocalyptic trilogies I truly enjoy, but the raw realism of Laybourne’s apocalyptic vision, the sheer probability of it all, is what makes her series stand out in the sea of post-apocalyptic reads out there. The point of these books, I think, is to convince the readers they’re entirely possible, and with Monument 14, my mind was free of doubts from the start.

In Sky of Fire, our small group of young survivors split into two groups. The larger group, lead by Niko, decided to try to reach Denver International Airport by bus. The second group stayed behind, mostly because of their blood type and the danger they can easily become to others. The two brothers we’ve been following from the beginning, Alex and Dean, got separated, with Dean staying in the Monument shopping mall, and Alex leaving to seek help.

Things did not get easier for our group in this installment. If anything, Sky on Fire is darker and more violent than its predecessor – not that Laybourne ever shied away from harsh realities of a world in shambles. The difference is that by now, our teen survivors learned what they must do to survive, and their hands aren’t clean anymore. They are ready to threaten, drug or kill people in order to save themselves and their friends. In other words, they have adapted, even if they hate themselves for it.

While the addition of Alex’s point of view was absolutely necessary, being inside Dean’s head was far more enjoyable. There’s just something about Dean’s simple honesty that would melt even the hardest of hearts, and his love for Astrid, open and undemanding, no matter the circumstances, endeared him to me even further. Those who have read Monument 14 will remember that Astrid, Dean’s long-time crush, is pregnant with another boy’s baby, but our Dean takes it all in stride, willing to accept this and anything else she might throw his way, just to be with her.

Emmy Laybourne still excels at building characters, but her skill is somewhat less pronounced in this sequel, probably because of the rapid pacing. With so many things going on, it’s hard to focus on anyone except the POV characters. But while I felt a tiny bit detached from some of the secondary characters’ issues, I did get to know Dean even better and learned to appreciate him a lot more.

Sky on Fire has a nice, satisfactory ending with just enough issues left open to make me more than interested in reading the next book. Not every middle book has to end with a cliffhanger, and in fact, if it were up to me, I’d ban them from existence altogether. Thankfully, things like cliffhanger endings and middle book syndrome aren’t part of Emmy Laybourne’s repertoire.

A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.

19 comments:

  1. I didn't read Monument 14 - was a bit tired of these apocalyptic novels I suspect - but I always love a solid sequel. If this series ends just as strongly then I'll definitely be picking it up. (Plus, a lack of a cliffhanger is ALWAYS a good thing!) Wonderful review, as always Maja!

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  2. Sounds like an interesting story. I do like the premise, and that's great the second book doesn't leave with a big cliffhanger. I think the dual point of view in the sequel sounds great.

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  3. I have this one and haven';t had a chance to read it yet. I enjoyed Monument 14, so I really need to read it soon!

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  4. I seriously debated on whether or not to pick this one up, I liked the first book but I wasn't in love with it. You have me wanting to give this series another try!

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  5. Ohhhh I do like post-apocalyptic stuff

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  6. I haven't started this series yet but I love it when authors can end sequels on a high note without resorting to cliffhangers. It's also nice that this one doesn't suffer from middle book syndrome, Maja. Great review!

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  7. First of all, yay for no cliffhanger! WOO HOO! I'd like to join your campaign to ban them from existence Maja! This series sound fascinating, I always love stories like this where we see the darker side of the survival instinct and then question how we ourselves would handle a given situation were we in the characters' shoes. Beautiful review as always!

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  8. I haven't read the first book in the series because I didn't think this was a strong series judging from the mixed reviews. It looks like I might have to give this a try. I recently saw it my library, so I'll have to pick it up. The characters and the actual plot sound intriguing.
    Lovely convincing review, Maja!

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  9. Good to hear it still kept you entertained but also wrapped up well. I haven't started this series, but its on my tbr

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  10. you're right I don't read a lot of post apocalyptic stories because at the end it's always the same thing but like you, I'm so happy when I find something a little different. I loved the Traci L Slatton one in this genre too. I think I saw this one somewhere but I haven't read it. And it's great to have a good end like that too.

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  11. I still have a copy of the first book that I didn't get read. Now I need to work in book two. I love a good apocalyptic book with great characters and it is nice to hear there is no cliffhanger or middle book syndrome.

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  12. Wait... what? No cliffies???? WHEEEEE! :D I really need to read this series. I didn't know it was set in CO. I'll have to see if the author gets it correct. LOL I also like the sound of these characters and how involved you get with them. So adding both books to my wishlist.

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  13. Oh, Dean. He's a good guy and I felt bad when he found out that his possible-girl was pregnant. Oops. I really enjoyed the first book in this series and could see the potential darkness coming...glad to hear it keeps its forward momentum (with no cliffhanger!).

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  14. I cannot but admire every time I see these covers, they're so artistic and you have a feeling like you can just step into it. Anyhow I have heard nothing but amazing things about this author and this series. I love realist dystopian stories and I hope I'll read this one soon. Great review, Maja :)

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  15. Ah Maja you have convinced me to grab book one, I am loving that this is darker and if you liked it I know I will..wonderful review!!

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  16. Another great review! I have never heard of this series, so thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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  17. I haven't read Monument 14 and have been considering it for a while, in so many shops it's been cheap, but I've never bought it, and I really wish I had now, it sounds like a thrilling serious, with no zombies, just monsters, which I can handle. You've totally changed my opinion around and may just be attempting to get my hands on this soon :D

    Great review Maja :D

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  18. wonderful, so glad to hear you enjoyed this one. I am glad that there are two point of views in this one, I kind of seen it coming after the way the first ended. Grabby hands want this one.

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  19. I'm so glad to hear there is no middle book syndrome or unnecessary cliffhanger! I don't remember the first book all that well, but you have me excited to get back into this world and pick this sequel up. Wonderful review!

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