Name: Dean Grieder
Nickname: Booker (Because he loves to read)
Why We Love Him: Dean narrates Monument 14 and does so with vulnerability, sarcasm, and truth. He is such a nerd with his obvious gawking at Astrid and his inability to cook anything without burning. But don't let Dean's nerdiness fool you. He can hold his own in a fight if he has to. There's a sweetness to Dean but also a reckless side to him despite how observant he is. Dean's very protective of his brother and his intentions to do the right thing don't always work out well but he never gives up which just makes me all the more endearing.
Get An Inside Look At Dean
My mom believed that you make your own luck. Over the stove she had hung these old, maroon-painted letters that spell out MANIFEST. The idea was if you thought and dreamed about the way you wanted your life to be-if you just envisioned it long enough-it would come into being.
But as hard as I had manifested Astrid Heyman with her hand in mine, her blue eyes gazing into mine, her lips whispering something wild and funny and outrageous in my ear, she had remained totally unaware of my existence. Truly, to even dream of dreaming about Astrid, for a guy like me, in my relatively low position on the social ladder of Lewis Palmer High, was idiotic. And with her a senior and me a junior? Forget it.
Astrid was lit up with beauty: shining blond ringlets, June sky-blue eyes, slightly furrowed brow, always biting back a smile, champion diver on the swim team. Olympic level.
Hell, Astrid was Olympic level in every possible way.
And I wasn't. I was one of those guys who had stayed short too long. Everyone else sprang up in seventh and eighth grade but I just stayed kid-size through those years-the Brayden-hair-gel years. Then, last summer, I'd grown, like, six inches or something. My mom delighted in my absured growth spell, buying me new clothes basically every other week. My bones ached at night and my joints creaked sometimes, like a senior citizen's.
I'd entered the school year with some hope, actually, that now I was of average-even above-average-height, I might rejoin society at an, um, higher level. I know it's crass to talk about popularity outright, but remember, I'd had a thing for Astrid for a long, long time. I wanted to be near her and working my way into her circle of friends seemed the only way.
I thought my height might do the trick. Sure I was skinny as a rail, but still, my inventory of looks improved: green eyes-good assest. Ash-colored hair-okay. Height-no longer a problem. Build-needed major improvement. Glasses-a drag, but contacts gave me chronic conjuctivitis, which looked a lot worse than glasses, and I couldn't get Lasik until I stopped growing, so that was out for a while. Teeth and skin-fair. Clothes-sort of a wreck but getting better.
I thought I had a chance but the sum total of our communication to date were the two words she'd said to me on the bus: Help me.
And I hadn't.
Name: Niko Mills
Nickname: Brave Hunter Man (Because he was apart of the Boy Scouts and is always so stoic)
Description: Perfect posture, thin, wiry frame, brown skin, brown eyes, brown hair, carries himself with a stiff sort of pride
Why We Love Him: Niko is also a fellow nerd. Unlike Dean who is pretty straight forward and can say what's on his mind, Nike is more of an introvert. He keeps to himself, observes the world around him with sharp eyes. He is strong and steady, someone you can depend on and trust. Niko is definitely shy which we can totes understand and relate to, especially when it comes to crushing on someone and not being able to act remotely normal around that person. Niko has a good heart and even though he makes mistakes, he always aims to learn from them and grow through them into a better person. He's also the best person to have during times of disaster! Niko would most likely survive a zombie apocalypse and rebuild the world and become President. We totes be by his side all the way!
Get An Inside Look At Niko
"Hey guys," Niko began. "It was a really cool idea to come in costume. I wish I thought of it. Though I don't know how cool you would think it was if I came in my Scout uniform . . ."
He looked up.
Niko was trying to make a joke, I realized too late.
Someone needed to work with him on his delivery.
"But, you know, maybe Boy Scouts isn't cool to some people, but the training I got as a Scout has really helped me here. And all of us. You know, I know first aid and I helped us to get out of the bus and stuff."
Brayden whispered, "Yo!" to Jake and held his hands out. Jake passed him the ball.
"If you pick me, it's not going to be all games and playing," Niko continued. "I think we need order and structure. Everyone's gonna have to work if we're going to make it. That's just what I think."
The kids were looking down at their laps. A couple were starting to fidget.
Niko's eyes glanced over to Josie and I saw her make a little motion with her hands, like Give us more.
Niko took a deep breath. Then he seemed to pull himself together. He stood up straight. He looked out at all of us.
"I am not good at making speeches. I'm not the most popular kid at school."
Brayden snickered off to the right.
"But I know what needs to be done here," Niko continued. "I know how to organize and delegate. I know how to ration food, we we'll be able to stay well fed for as long as possible. I know how to keep my head in a crisis. I think you all know that about me already.
"I know how to survive and I'll teach you all how to survive. That's what we need to learn now. I think we are all a lot luckier than pretty much everyone in this part of the country."
He looked out and his gaze traveled over each of us. His posture, his straightness, seemed to magnetize us somehow and we all sat up taller in our seats.
"We are going to honor those who have died by surviving. All of us. That's my promise to you. If you elect me, we're all getting out of here safe and sound."