Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne

April 18, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★½

Sky on Fire by Emmy LaybourneSky on Fire (Monument 14 #2) by Emmy Laybourne
Published: November 7th 2013 by HachetteAU
Format: Paperback, 288 pages
Genres: Post Apocalyptic
Source: Library
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3.5 Stars

Trapped in a superstore by a series of escalating disasters, including a monster hailstorm and terrifying chemical weapons spill, brothers Dean and Alex learned how to survive and worked together with twelve other kids to build a refuge from the chaos. But then strangers appeared, destroying their fragile peace, and bringing both fresh disaster and a glimmer of hope.

Knowing that the chemical weapons saturating the air outside will turn him into a bloodthirsty rage monster, Dean decides to stay in the safety of the store with Astrid and some of the younger kids. But their sanctuary has already been breached once ...

Meanwhile, Alex, determined to find their parents, heads out into the darkness and devastation with Niko and some others in a recently repaired school bus. If they can get to Denver International Airport, they might be evacuated to safety. But the outside world is even worse than they expected ...

Picking up immediately after the end of Monument 14, Sky on Fire is told in alternating points of view and finally shows us what’s going on outside the Greenway store while keeping us in contact with those inside it.

Firstly, I love that there’s a neat summary of what happened in the last book right at the beginning of this one. It’s written as a letter – one of those ‘in case you find this and we’re dead’ scenarios, and i think it was perfect because it brings readers up to speed without behind condescending or obvious about it.

I was surprised at how similar the ‘voices’ of the two point-of-view characters are. Like, they’re different people and have different hobbies and interests and that sort of thing, but they think in almost exactly the same way and agree on the ways they see other characters. I know they are brothers and that they would be a little similar, but everything we know of Dean’s brother from the last book makes it obvious they were really different. But now, with both narrating, I don’t think they came across as two different voices, and Alex sometimes seems like an extension of Dean in how exasperated and short-tempered he becomes.

Otherwise the writing style of the book is interesting: Dean’s passages are just like the last book, and Alex’s are in the form of the notes he writes in a book, as a kind of diary meant for Dean. I liked Alex’s parts the best because I’ve wanted to know what’s going on outside the Greenway of ages, and he was an excellent source of information!

This book, like the last, is quite graphic. People get unexpectedly and spectacularly sick, the side effects of the weird gas are particularly harrowing, and there are few gruesome deaths as well. But all of that paled in comparison to my discomfort at the situation between Astrid, Dean and Jake. On one hand, I’m glad that the author didn’t try to pretend that sex and hormones don’t happen in apocalyptic situations, and that she elected to keep the story realistic, but on the other hand, I’m deeply uncomfortable with where this is going because the characters are all basically still kids. There are far-reaching consequences for all their decisions, which I feel they’re being naïve about.

The two groups in the story are intertwined even as they get further and further apart, a fact that becomes clearer as the book gallops towards its explosive conclusion. I found that after a certain point in the book I just couldn’t bear to be away from it, and read it in large chunks (interrupted by mundane things like sleeping and eating) to find out what happens next. I think it ends on a wonderful note, giving just the right amount of hope and closure, while tantalising us for Savage Drift, the next book.

I think that if you liked the Monument 14, you are going to like the sequel, Sky on Fire. It’s an excellent continuation of the story of 14 kids who were trapped inside a store when their world came to an end. I’m hoping to get my ands of the third novel as soon as it comes out!

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