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.