Read by Todd Haberkorn
Length: 6 Hrs 58 Min
Genre: Young Adult Post Apocalyptic
Quick Thoughts: Monument 14 is a whole lot of fun. It’s an Apocalyptic Breakfast Club, the end of the world as appears on The CW. You may not find a whole lot of hidden depths to the tale, but what you will find is a teenage apocalyptic fantasy that could be this generation’s version of Z for Zachariah.
When I was a kid I developed a lot of Post Apocalyptic Fantasies. For the most part, these fantasies revolved around what I would do when The Rapture came, and little sinful pre-teen Bob was left behind as his more godly family members went to heaven to be with Jesus. My first plan was to go to New Life Island, a Christian camp I spent many summers at as a kid. I thought it would be the perfect place to hole up during the Great Tribulation. First off, being a Christian Camp, it should be totally abandoned. There would be plenty of unused buildings and leftover canned supplies to keep me going for 7 years. Secondly, I knew a lot of great hiding places. So when the Antichrist and his legions showed up to put his mark on my right hand or forehead, I’d know where to hide. My second plan was basically to lock myself into a huge mall or department store. Now, as an adult I see the folly of this plan, but as a kid, particularly a poor kid, the mall, or Kmart was like an elicit heaven of things other kids had that we didn’t. The ability to gorge on non-generic brand cookies, or spend hours playing the high tech Atari 2600 game system would make the Apocalypse just fly by. I mean, hell, it’s the Apocalypse. Armageddon is at hand when Christ and his army will take it to the Devil. So, while Gog and Magog are being destroyed, and the Abomination of Desolation was taking place, I might as well have a bit of fun before being called before God to answer for all my youthful lusting and occasional swear word.
Dean was just a normal, quiet, unimposing kid who had a crush on the popular girl, was occasionally bullied, and spent much of his time writing in his journal. Then, one day on the bus heading to school, huge hail rains down, causing the bus to crash. Now, a group of kids hole up in a department store, locked in, as they watch the world start to come apart around them. Monument 14 was a fun, surface level Young Adult Apocalyptic novel that the 15 year old version of me would have absolutely loved. The older more mature version didn’t find it half bad. Emmy Laybourne writes in a pretty straight forward accessible style relying heavily of classic teenage caricatures. Amongst the cast of characters you have the popular girl, the jock, the mysterious new kid, the bully, and the young rebellious girl who wants all the older boys to find her sexy and while some of the characters are a bit underdeveloped, you can’t help but recognize them. The disaster set up is actually pretty well done and interesting. Along with natural disasters resulting from a huge Volcanic event, an accidentally release of a biological agent adds a unique spin to the tale. Another unique aspect is the inclusion of a group of elementary school kids that the older kids must care for. This provided a lot of humor and "oh so sweet" moments to the story as well as a bit of tension building annoyance. The story is told through the perspective of bookish Dean who serves as the perfect narrator for the tale, combining his teenage angst with the observational detail of a writer. You can’t help but want to cheer for the unassuming kid, while he pines for the girl, deals with the bully and just tries to survive and do the right thing. Monument 14 is a whole lot of fun. It’s an Apocalyptic Breakfast Club, the end of the world as appears on The CW. You may not find a whole lot of hidden depths to the tale, but what you will find is a teenage apocalyptic fantasy that could be this generation’s version of Z for Zachariah.
Until listening to the audiobook I had never heard of Todd Haberkorn. After listening, I discovered he is a rock star Anime Voice Over artist with a huge following. One of the hardest things for an audiobook narrator is to authentically portray children, particularly a large range of them. In Monument 14, Todd Haberkorn totally nails it. He brings the kids to life in a way that I think enhances the book. Haberkorn’s narration actually helps the book by assisting in the development of these characters. Each child comes alive, from the young twins to the Spanish speaking Ulysses, each one is voiced with authentic detail. Haberkorn gives the novel and almost cinematic feel. I swear there were times I forgot I was listening to an audiobook, and began expecting a musical montage scene of the group of kids cleaning the store, stocking shelves, and building up their sleeping areas. Yet, it wasn’t all fun and games, there were some tough, emotionally moments in this novel that Haberkorn handled with care. I had a lot of fun listening to Monument 14 and look forward to the sequel.
Note: Thanks to Brilliance Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.