The Monument 14 Trilogy: Monument 14, Sky on Fire, and Savage Drift by Emmy Laybourne.
Brief Synopsis: A natural disaster hits a school bus full of 14 children ranging from kindergarten to high school. They end up trapped in a superstore. Chemicals are released, which affect each blood type differently (some turning into ravage killers). The first book covers how they survive in the superstore. The second book is their travels back to DIA to be evacuated to safety. The third book details their efforts to be reunited together and with their families.
This series is by far a favorite for my 13-year-old, and she has read them a few times. I would rate this book as R rated. This is a post-apocalyptic book with very few adults, i.e., drugs, alcohol, sex, and one rape. I think the author handled the drug situation well. I would assume some would despair in drugs when everything seemed lost, and only a few did. These books overdid the teenage sex. I have already discussed in this post how I think books about teenagers depict sex as more common compared to statistics on this issue.
In a post-apocalyptic environment, one can assume some would despair, and some would cling to faith or some superstition. The clinging to faith is lacking in these books. There seems to be only one kid who had any religious upbringing, a kindergartner. Again religion is shown as solely following rules. Therefore, he spends his time pointing out other’s sins. Noone of the 14 seems to have a relationship with God, which is the foundation of religion, not following a set of rules (discussed in this post). There should have at least been one older kid who had reasonable faith and a relationship with God to introduce to the group. Book 3 does have one character who is a prisoner, and she does ask God for help a few times.
Discussion with my kids:
I found these books to be pro-life. The children always hold themselves to a standard of helping others survive when possible (one quote: I would rather die than take a life). The government has rules to only focus on those considered most beneficial to society, but some doctors ignore this and help the oldest and weakest. One of the main focuses of the third book is to protect a pregnant teen. The child in the womb is portrayed as a baby. The ultrasound scene describes the images and details of how it is a baby.
The main thing I loved about this series is the hopefulness of the characters. It reminded me of the quote by St. Thomas Aquinas:
Most of the kids in this series did not lose hope, even when society as a whole seemed lost. Therefore, they didn’t lose heart, and this wasn’t a series about children who “flounder in wickedness.” They continued to hope in a better solution and hope in them as a new team and, ultimately a family. I think the author did a great job in the thoughts and conversations about seeing all sides in their hopefull decisions.
Theological Virtue of Hope:
I recently had an acquaintance ask me if I knew I was getting into heaven. My response to her was, “I hope so.” She told me how she didn’t understand how Catholics only talk about hope as opposed to an assurance of our salvation.
Hope lies somewhere between despair and presumption.
I do not think we should be presumptive when it comes to God.
Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
One of the reasons the Pharisees had a hard time with Jesus is because he wasn’t doing or saying things that they assumed the Messiah should be doing or saying. Since they couldn’t understand his actions, they deemed him not the Messiah. Talking with other believers, there are many times we don’t know why God is allowing or doing certain things in our lives. Only God decides who is going to heaven, and we should hope that it is us. We should never assume as we can deceive ourselves:
Mt 7:21-23 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name? Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.
What do Catholics mean when we say hope?
Many times in the English language the word hope is used interchangeably with the word wish. Hope is a theological virtue, and it does not mean wish.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines hope as the “theological virtue by which we desire and expect from God both eternal life and the grace we need to attain it.”
Therefore, when I say, “I hope in my salvation,” I am saying I expect God to give it to me and to give me the grace I need to attain it.
For more information on how Catholics should answer the question of salvation, see:
CCC 1817: Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.