Review: Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne

Friday 1 May 2015
Title: Sky on Fire (Monument 14, #2)
Author: Emmy Laybourne
Publisher: Hodder Children's
Publication Date: 7th November 2013
Pages: 288
ISBN: 9781444914726
Source: Purchased
Rating: 4.5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Trapped inside a superstore, fourteen kids have worked together to create a refuge while a series of escalating disasters, including a monster hailstorm and a terrifying chemical weapons spill, mean they cannot leave. Then strangers appeared, destroying their fragile peace, but also bringing a glimmer of hope.

Knowing that the polluted air outside will turn them into bloodthirsty rage monsters, some of the kids decide to stay in the safety of the store. But their sanctuary has already been disturbed once...

The others, determined to find their parents, head out into the darkness and devastation in their 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...

I read Monument 14 back in 2013 and somehow it took me almost two years to pick up the sequel, a decision I am now kicking myself about! Monument 14 was a thoroughly exciting read, yet in Sky on Fire, everything was cranked up to the max. The action, the tension, the suspense, the mystery. I couldn't turn the pages quick enough meaning that sadly, this too short book was over in no time.

I'm not going to summarise Monument 14 but the short version is that a chemical spill in the town of Monument has contaminated the air, causing a bunch of teenagers (14!) to seek refuge in probably the world's biggest and best supermarket (seriously, it has everything). They have to seek refuge because depending on their blood type, the contaminated air will affect them in various ways the most dangerous being for Type O blood types who become dangerously violent. The end of Monument 14 saw the kids making some difficult decisions, and Sky on Fire picks up from that moment.

So, half the kids are remaining behind in the store, led by Dean whilst Dean's brother Alex and the other half head out of the store on the school bus that drove them there in the first place. Their destination: Denver International Airport, where hopefully they will find refuge and help for those that cannot leave the supermarket. It's not going to be easy though and soon those on the bus realise just how dangerous a usually short and easy trip is going to be. It is impossible to discuss the book in detail, or how things develop for our characters, but partway through the book we meet some new characters that had me feeling genuine anger, and actual fear for the lives of our characters. I imagine younger readers reading this series will love it.

Both Monument 14 and Sky on Fire are thought-provoking books and whilst in Monument 14 I was thinking about all the amazing things you could do in an abandoned supermarket that has everything, in Sky on Fire my brain was ticking thinking about how I would survive, and comparing the decisions our characters make throughout with the ones I would make myself. Both Dean and Alex are individual characters, yet share a couple of the same personality traits, as is the case with most brothers. I loved the switching of narratives with each chapter, it was exciting but a little bit frustrating as each chapter would end on a bit of a mini-cliffhanger!

Another thing I enjoyed about Sky on Fire is that there was a bit more equality in terms of the various strengths and weaknesses that the male and female characters possessed. In Monument 14 it was very much guys protect girls but the girls definitely played their roles in Sky on Fire and I think Savage Drift will be much the same. I also liked that despite everything our characters were facing, they still had to handle all those typical teenage problems, fears and feelings that every teenager wrestles with during those years. I found myself wondering how things would develop for all of the characters, especially knowing that Emmy Laybourne is not against just killing off a character. I also liked how the various reactions to the blood types can cause segregation amongst the group, the reactions feel realistic and it's almost like the various groups that you get within any school, just changed to a more dramatic environment.

So far this series hasn't disappointed, and those who are yet to pick these books up should definitely do so ASAP. Readers of the various trilogies of the past few years will know that not every author has managed to end their trilogy successfully, the first two books often being better than the last and so I am excited to see whether Savage Drift can beat the odds and be a satisfying conclusion to what has been a thrilling couple of books. The ending of Sky on Fire was brilliant, everything you want and expect from a book like this and I am just so glad I had the final book ready to read once I'd finished.


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