Are you ready for this? If tornadoes have been happening and you’re wigged out, perhaps it’s best not to pickup this series quite at this time. But seriously? I LOVED these books! A post-apocalyptic/contemporary fiction mash-up that deals with a cataclysmic disaster in the United States.
In Monument, CO, fourteen children and teens are left stranded in a Greenway (basically a Wal-Mart) after a chain of weather disasters causes large hail to batter Monument and a nearby military facility to implode, releasing toxic chemical weapons into the atmosphere. Dean, our 16-year-old narrator, finds himself among the eldest of their group of kids, and is automatically thrust into a position of responsibility, especially for his younger genius brother Alex. Their teacher, Mrs. Wooly had left to get help for one of the teens, Josie, who was in shock from her injuries. Meanwhile, the kids must band together to survive, with each of them having their own responsibilities and taking care of the younger ones. However, the release of the chemical weapons makes everything that much more unpredictable as the bio-weapons target blood types and the known but ravaged world turns into a horrible nightmare. Beauty and savagery, innocence and corruption, love and hate, selflessness and selfishness, all intertwine and create a moving and gripping story that will suck you in and leave you begging to read more.
Book 2 & Spoilers below!
In the sequel, Alex and Dean have gone their separate ways. Alex travels with Nico, Josie, and a few of the children in the bus to drive to nearby Denver and hopefully get air evacuated, reunited with their parents, and rescue for the ones left behind. Dean has chosen to stay at Greenway, half because he is a type O and is terrified of going murderously berserk on the bus and half because he feels he must stay with Astrid, his type O friend and crush who also happens to be pregnant with Jake’s baby. Dean and Astrid also keep Chloe, another type O, Luna, the dog, and the 5-year-old twins, Caroline and Henry who were Dean’s neighbors. For both groups, the world around them is almost no longer recognizable and instead is a living, breathing nightmare. Alex, Nico, Josie, and the bus kids are traveling into an unknown and hostile territory, filled with dead bodies, decomposing and abandoned automobiles, manic type O’s, bloodthirsty street gangs, and the threat of chemical death. Dean’s little family, though it looks like they’re set to easily hole up in the Greenway, faces power outages, sickness, and threat of breach by anyone desperate and powerful enough to break in and take it from them. It has always been a question of survival, but now at the end, when they’ve done nothing but try to be a family, it’s a desperate bid to live and not lose anyone or their own sense of morality.
Book 3 & Spoilers below!
Dean, Alex, and the other survivors of the Monument 14 have escaped the disaster zone and made it to the safety of a Canadian refugee camp. Some of the kids have been reunited with their families, and everyone is making tentative plans for the future. And then, Niko learns that his lost love, Josie, has survived!
Or is it?
For Josie, separated from the group and presumed dead, life has gone from bad to worse. Trapped in a terrible prison camp with other exposed O’s and traumatized by her experiences, she has given up all hope of rescue. Meanwhile, scared by the government’s unusual interest in her pregnancy, Astrid—along with her two protectors, Dean and Jake—joins Niko on his desperate quest to be reunited with Josie.
The final installment of the Monument 14 trilogy does not disappoint as once more the teens (and kids) fight to survive the aftermath of the disasters, while also caring for one another as family. Dean, Jake, Niko, and Astrid set out to rescue Josie, while also protecting Astrid from being stolen away in the night for government testing due to her pregnancy and the baby’s chemical exposure. Meanwhile, Josie has lost all hope and lives in the O prison camp as though isolated except for Mario, the eighty-year-old man who rescued her from staying O. Mario has sponsored other orphaned kids, and Josie does her best to shut them all out. When Mario and the kids are threatened by the guards, Josie takes the brunt of the punishment, making her a juicy target for the local gang and the guards. The final danger is that of the drifts, giant clouds of the chemical poisons that are rumored to be drifting across the land, rumors that the government will not admit are true. Their final dream is to be reunited at Niko’s uncle’s farm in Pennsylvania, but with all of the obstacles in their way, the journey is nigh to impossible. It’s a quick read to see if they can survive these latest adventures and finally have a bright future.
This series isn’t an easy read. It’s violent and disturbing and laid bare with the grittiness and ugliness of humanity. From sexuality to drug and alcohol abuse to excrement and murder, all are present and fairly obvious, but not overdone, in these books. It’s definitely a Read at Your Own Risk, but you’ll probably be glad you did (as long as you aren’t one of those types to be scared about something like this actually happening–if that’s you, maybe you’ll need to have a happy read to switch to when you need it. My strategy was that I read this series before reading My Life Next Door, posted earlier, and that was a great pick). The beautiful way these teens care for one another and others who become dependent on them makes this such an addictive and moving read, and one I couldn’t help but love. I also have a big soft spot for Dean, who despite his worst moments influenced by the chemical compounds, shows that he has such capacity for love and is an honorable young man determined to care for anyone less fortunate than he. They all show tremendous maturity and strength in the face of such catastrophe, and that is one thing that will touch readers if they pick up this series. Four solid stars, except for the fact that I wanted to read more!!!