Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
Listening to this book (wonderfully read by Todd Haberkorn) has made my commute fly by this week and so I kept listening today through grocery shopping and chores and even on the treadmill. Yes, it is just that good.
This is 2024, a slightly more high-tech world that we live in now, but not by much. A massive earthquake spawns a tsunami and then freaky weather and more earthquakes across the United States. The Network is down, communication is cut off, and apparently the government has been cooking up some crazy chemical weapons at Norad. Because when the earth starts shaking, poison starts spewing into the sky.
Two school buses in the small town of Monument, Colorado (just down the road from Norad) are on their way to school when this all happens -- and a massive hail storm forces them to take refuge in a nearby super store. Only 12 kids survive the ordeal -- 6 high schoolers and 6 younger kids from kindergarteners to middle school age. Dean and his brother Alex are together, thankfully, but they have no idea what's happened to their parents. Nobody else does either. They are lucky to be stuck in the store because they can seal themselves off and they have all the supplies they need to wait out the disaster. They have to learn to live together, form a community, and keep each other alive until help comes. Trouble is, they have no idea when that will be. Or what the poison air has done to those outside their walls.
The MONUMENT 14 story is more about the characters and their relationships to each other than about what's happening in the rest of the world. Fair warning, it's a MAJOR CLIFFHANGER so be prepared to do what I did and immediately seek out book 2. Somehow, I have a feeling I'll be doing the same thing with book 3 when I reach the end of this one.
It's grisly and brutal at times, also there is some strong sexual themes, drinking and pill popping. It's definitely not for elementary kids (but neither is Hunger Games, IMO, so ...). With global warming and climate change in the news as it is these days, this kind of apocalyptic story might be disturbing to more sensitive kids. B&N says 13 and up, and I'd agree.