Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
After boarding their buses for school one morning, Dean and his younger brother Alex are suddenly caught in a violent hail storm. Fourteen children, from elementary students to high school, are forced to seek refuge in a nearby superstore. While their world falls apart around them as an incredible earthquake leads to an even more dangerous chemical spill.
Dean is an average teen, not popular but smart and well-read. He has the stereotypical crush on the most popular, pretty girl who, of course, is dating the popular jock. But the kid’s world in thrown upside down when forced to take on unbelievable responsibility in the face of an apocalyptic scenario. Laybourne’s story of survival during this horrific apocalypse is both frightening yet full of hope. Monument 14 is not nearly as dark and depressing as Lord of the Flies or Michael Grant’s Gone series. Her characters show a wide range of believable choices from bravery and selflessness to extreme fear and cowardice. As more terrible things keep happening around them, the suspense builds to a heat-pounding, cliffhanger ending. This debut is a fast-paced, exciting story with plenty of drama and adventure that both mature teens and adults will enjoy.