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Review: The Living by Matt de la Peña

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Living

by Matt de la Peña

Genre: YA Survival
Hardback: 320 Pages
Publication: November 12, 2013 by Delacorte Press


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.

◆ A copy was provided by Random House for review ◆

Shy Espinoza is excited to get a summer job on a Hawaii-bound cruise ship to make some good money to help his family. He has found good friends, including Carmen, a girl he likes to know better. Then multiple tsunamis sink the cruise ship following news of a catastrophic earthquake has destroyed the West Coast. Shy finds himself adrift at sea with only Addie, a rude rich girl who treated him with nothing but disdain back, for company. Though, they are rescued just as they've lost all hope, Shy soon learns that they are still in great peril.

Shy is a Mexican-American kid from the border, good-hearted, and devoted to family and friends. Carmen is smart and fun. Both of them have relatives who have died of Romero disease, a new illness that's spreading over the Mexican border into California, and they are able to confide in each other. They understand each other, and I liked their friendship. As for Addie, she is not friendly to Shy in the beginning, but they forge a bond going through the days on the sea in a fight for survival.

Nevertheless, there is more to the story. With a few twists and turns, the book slowly builds into something that I didn't expect at the beginning. The Living is not just a survival story plotline. There is also the conspiracy plot on a mysterious island to which Shy and Addie may have a connection.

The Living is an on-the-sea survival adventure, a global disaster and a contagious thriller of a book. There is plenty of horrible violence and a high body count. The story line focuses themes of racism, class conflict, and the selfish privilege of wealthy passengers. It is full of action and very well constructed. It is a great read for those who looking for adventure and survival stories.

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1 comment on "Review: The Living by Matt de la Peña"
  1. I've seen this one a few times, and was curious about it. Sounds good, not so sure about the whole being out on the water thing though, kinda scary.. Great review.


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