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by Emmy Laybourne
One minute, fourteen kids were on the bus heading towards school. Then the gigantic sized hail began. The bus crashed and everything changed in an instant.
Six high school kids, two eighth-graders, and six little kids are trapped in a chain superstore, while chemicals fill the outside air. They must work together in order to survive. However, the longer they are in the store, the more difficulties they must face—they must keep others out, they must take care of the younger children, they must fight the escalating tension between each other—all the while trying to come up with a plan to survive.
Monument 14 is a suspenseful survival story written from the point of view of one of the teenagers. Although the premise behind the book is interesting, some of the events in the story are farfetched. The narrator describes some graphic fights, including one in which an adult is shot and killed. One of the pre-teen girls is sexually assaulted. Another character raids the pharmacy and is high for most of the story.
- When exposed to the chemicals in the air, Brayden thinks, “But I still had some weird stuff happening in my body. What I wanted was Astrid. She looked so good to me that I wanted to take her, in a dark and terrible way.”
- When one of the children is playing with Barbie toys, the narrator describes it as a “Barbie orgy.”
- When some of the characters fight, a boy says, “I see. I get it . . . You and your brother want in on Niko’s little gay Scout thing. You guys wish you could be up in the woods, huffing on each other’s campfires . . .”
- Some of the boys were talking about Astrid. Brayden says, “You don’t even love her. You just want her so you can get your rocks off.”
- Sahalia helps people wash their hair. The narrator and two other boys watch her. “We can see skin under the leg of her shorts. The creamy skin of her inner, inner thigh . . . Now we see her breast outright, through the material of her shirt. We could see the nipples. Everything about them, we could see . . . But it seemed to me she wanted us to see her body. She wanted to be wanted.”
- Sahalia is wearing a revealing outfit. When the boys look at Sahalia’s body, another character yells at her, “We get it, okay? You’re sexy and you want to have sex with these guys. We get it. But, honey, it’s not going to happen because you are thirteen.” As the two fight, Sahalia yells, “I know more about sex than you do, you stuck-up bitch!”
- Astrid finds Sahalia “basically naked” and crying. “She sat on the floor, clutching her nightgown to her chest.” Later Sahalia says, “He (an adult, school employee) said that I should be, like his girlfriend. And I guess I thought I could, you know, do what all he wanted me to do. But then I didn’t want to and . . .”
- Two of the characters kiss. “Nicko held her to him, encircling her dark shoulders and pulling her into his body . . . She looked up at him and he looked at her and they were kissing.”
- When the school bus crashes, the driver is killed. “He was pinned behind the wheel and blood was spilling out of his head like milk out of a carton.”
- When exposed to the air, the narrator begins attacking Niko. “I started beating him with the mask I was still holding. He wouldn’t let go of my leg and was dragging me down the stairs. I swung at him, wanting him to lose his balance . . . I couldn’t think. Just pummel. Pound. tear. Destroy.”
- One of the characters talks about how his mother’s boyfriend hits her. In a later scene, he talks about how his aunt’s husband would beat her aunt, but the aunt would always lie about how she got hurt.
- When Chloe was exposed to the chemicals, she attacks the others. “She had Batiste by the throat, up against the wall . . . He was getting strangled to death . . . His face was blue and his eyes were big and his legs were limp.”
- When Robbie (an adult, school employee) is found sexually abusing Sahalia, Astrid holds a gun to him. Later, Jake is given the gun and Robbie attacks him. Robbie says, “I told you it wasn’t me. She wanted to be my girlfriend.” Then Robbie, “lashed out and struck Niko across the face with the barrel of the pistol.” Another character shoots Robbie dead.
Drugs and Alcohol
- One of the kids says that he went to a strip club with his uncle. He said that they serve liquor. “They have these little glasses in all kind of flavors like watermelon and peach passion and hot apple. They taste horrible.”
- Some of the older kids drink rum. The narrator describes the experience. “I was loose. I felt big, like I could say what I really felt. I was drunk.” In another scene, three of the older kids put alcohol into their slushies and get drunk.
- After getting in a fight, the narrator takes some pain pills and some steroids. “I was already starting to feel better. More warm and relaxed.”
- Jake offers the narrator a pill and says, “Let’s get high.” The narrator takes, “one of the EZ-melt pain pills from the day before and one triangular orange mystery pill later, I was flying. I felt relaxed but energized. Loose and happy.”
- Jake said, “I keep taking these pills. But every time, they’re working less. It’s like I squeezed all the good feelings out of my brain and now I’m out. I drained it all out and I’m done.”
- Profanity is used often. The profanity includes: holy Christ, hell, son of a bitch, a-hole, crap, and ass.
- When the group of kids make lunch in the store, one of the kids asks, “What do we do if the people from the store come? They’re going to be pissed?”
- When watching the news, the narrator notices the anchors messed up make up. “I wondered why no one fixed her makeup. It was CNN, for God’s sake.”
- When Brayden tells Astrid what to do, she yells, “Screw you, Brayden! You’re the last person I want to be stuck here with!”
- When Chloe sees Brayden’s beat up face she asks, “Oh my God, what happened to you?”
- Someone tries to get into the store. The man shouted, “BY THE HAIR OF MY F—CHIN, LET ME IN OR I’LL HUFF AND I’LL BLOW YOUR EFFIN’ GREENWAY DOWN.”
- When disaster strikes, Batiste keeps saying it is “the end of days” and that “judgement day was upon us.”
- When talking about the strip club, Batiste says, “Our church is always trying to get those sinners to repent. But I don’t even know what kind of sinning they’re doing.”
- A character says, “I thank God he brought us to this place.”