Review: The Living by Matt de la Peña

The LivingSource: Random House Kids – I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation
Publisher: Random House Kids
Series: The Living #1
Edition: Hardcover, 336
Genre: Young Adult Thriller
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository *
*I receive a small monetary kickback from Amazon purchases
Rating: 4/5

Shy took the summer job to make some money. In a few months on a luxury cruise liner, he’ll rake in the tips and be able to help his mom and sister out with the bills. And how bad can it be? Bikinis, free food, maybe even a girl or two—every cruise has different passengers, after all.

But everything changes when the Big One hits. Shy’s only weeks out at sea when an earthquake more massive than ever before recorded hits California, and his life is forever changed.

The earthquake is only the first disaster. Suddenly it’s a fight to survive for those left living.

The Living took me completely by surprise and gave me the unexpected. When you sit down with a book like this you immediately paint a picture of survival and that’s really about it, but The Living gives you much more. There are hints of attraction, friendship, mysterious and odd happenings, and then there is also the survival. It took me about four hours to blaze through this one and I’m so happy with it’s unique turn of events.

The plot for The Living is initially hard to explain and I have trouble fitting it into a genre, though it’s definitely a thriller. The style is very laid back and has a nice easy flow to it, that really helped me connect with the main character Shy. We’re given plenty of time to learn about Shy and his friends well before the expected happens, and because of that I had much more appreciation for each of their personalities and bonds. There is also the fact that part of this takes place on a cruise liner and I don’t think I’ve ever read something with that as a main setting.  The overall survival aspect does not spare the harshness of reality and shows how things can go from bad to worse very quickly. It becomes intense very quickly. But this is no ordinary contemporary survival book because it holds quick a few little twists and turns that slowly build into something I had never expected in the beginning. It’s a bit farfetched but at the same time I found it to be a fresh idea for a YA book and I enjoyed the surprise of it.

Shy is a really down to earth, hardworking and kind hearted guy; who felt realistic in the way he acted and worked through his problems. I haven’t read a book with a male main character who has ever been this responsible and family oriented and I really enjoyed the perspective. He was extremely easy for me to root for. I also loved getting to know Carmen and Rodney a bit as well and I came to enjoy their easy banter and friendship with Shy. Carmen has a sharp wit and I loved her openness with Shy, even when things are rough between them. Addison is not a character you can like right away. She’s shallow, snobbish and very ill-informed about other people; so needless to say I was more than a little curious to see how facing death would shape her. The odd relationship she formed with Shy was really nice and felt genuine, and now that I’m done with the book i find myself oddly worried about her.

I had no clue this was a series until I realized that I was running out a pages but the story was definitely not over with, and there on the last page was an advertisement for the sequel. I think I mentally screamed when I realized I wouldn’t know how everything was going to turn out for Shy and if he would ever make it back home, but I’m definitely glad I decided to read it.

4 stars

This entry was posted in Book Reviews (2013) and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Review: The Living by Matt de la Peña

  1. Christy says:

    Ugh – this is a reason I don’t want to go on a cruise. This is what would happen if I ever did. lol. The book really does sound good though.

  2. I don’t like water, so I really have no intention to get on a cruise ship. Especially now. lol… I think it sounds like a great book though. Great review.

  3. Wonderful review I look forward to reading this.

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