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The Living by Matt de la Pena
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The Living

by Matt de la Pena

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Mini Review: My thoughts in 5 bullets or less…

Well Developed Characters
This is the second book by author, Matt de La Pena, that I have read and I’ve gotta say he writes some of the most realistic characters I’ve ever read. Each character is so fully developed I feel I actually know them, like in real life. They’re almost too realistic if that makes any sense.

Male Point-of-View
The problem with an extremely realistic male character is we have to hear everytime he gets distracted by a girls long legs or catches himself looking at her butt (eye roll). However, I guess that’s the same as a girl main character who is constantly oogling a guys abs or whatenot, so I really have no right to complain.

Pacing
The story took some time to get rolling but once the tsunami hit the real adventure began. Shy is soon battling for his life in the most dire circumstances. I kept thinking to myself can’t the poor kid catch a break? as bad thing after bad thing kept happening.

Overall
This book had it pros and cons but the postivie outweighed the negative and I’ll definiltey be checking out the sequel to see what happens next in Shy’s journey. ( )
  BornBookish | Jun 2, 2014 |
This book first caught my attention because I noticed a blurb likening it to a Young Adult version of LOST - which was actually a show I really liked before it turned all WTFery bizarre . The result however, was not quite what I expected. I wouldn't say I'm disappointed, though; The Living wasn't a bad book, just different.

I'm also not surprised to see that opinions are all over the place for this one. It is a book made up of several different sections that feel completely dissimilar from each other in terms atmosphere, setting, pacing. It is part disaster story and survivor narrative with some hints of apocalyptic fiction and mystery. Try and imagine the movie 2012 meets Castaway, then maybe throw in a bit of 28 Days Later.

We start the story on a luxury cruise ship, which I thought was a rather unique and exciting setting. The international crew and passengers make for a very diverse cast, with characters hailing from all over the world. The protagonist himself, Shy, is a Mexican-American teenager whose home town is near the border, an area ravaged by a new illness termed Romero disease. Ever since the disease claimed his grandmother, Shy has been working for the cruise line in order to earn money to support his family.

Shy is on board a ship and near Hawaii when "The Big One" hits, a megathrust earthquake that completely destroys the west coast of North America. The resulting tsunami sinks the ship, and while most perish, Shy manages to survive.

One more movie reference and I promise I'm done, but The Living ruined cruises for me by traumatizing me the same way Final Destination did with flying on planes. The scenes leading up to, during, and after the sinking were gripping and terrifying. Which was why it felt so incongruous when they are followed up with days of drifting on the open water as Shy is marooned on a lifeboat. This section had its moments too, but it had nowhere near the heart-pounding force or intensity.

I was also slightly disappointed when I got to the end and found a wide-open ending and what was a very obvious lead-in to a series. I'd hoped that this would be a stand alone, though I'd had my doubts even before I started when I saw the slimness of the volume. As I got closer and closer to the last page I already suspected the author wasn't going to be able to wrap everything up.

In fact, as a first book The Living actually has the feel of very long introduction, but for all that, I still can't deny it has me hooked -- Matt de la Pena did a good job setting up an intriguing story and a lot of interesting relationships between the characters. I'll most likely pick up the sequel when it releases. ( )
  stefferoo | Mar 16, 2014 |
If you like books about disasters this one's for you. Suicides, earthquakes, tsunamis, cruise ship sinking, shark attacks, mass murders, epidemic spread of a deadly disease, can all be found in this "upbeat" book. Yes, I am being sarcastic. Add to this the darn book leaves you hanging for the sequel, and it all adds up to a pretty frustrating read. ( )
  LaneLiterati | Mar 15, 2014 |
After an earthquake destroys California and a tsunami wrecks the luxury cruise ship where he is a summer employee, high schooler Shy confronts another deadly surprise. ( )
  ShellyPYA | Feb 14, 2014 |
This was a really weird book. I had a hard time getting into it and was about to give up on it completely when it finally hooked me. The beginning is a little like the beginning of the movie Titanic... It gets kind of long and you just want the ship to sink already. Once the action starts, though, wow! It never did let up. I told my husband that this book seemed like it was written by someone with ADHD. It had SO much going on. How many disasters can one novel hold?? I was disappointed to find that this wasn't a stand-alone book and you'd have to wait for the sequel to find out more, but it wasn't such a cliff-hanger that it made me mad either. It wrapped up pretty nicely and I feel pretty good about leaving it as it is. It wasn't good enough to pick up a sequel someday, but it was worth the read. I think a lot of my teens will enjoy it if I can just get them past the first 75 pages. ( )
  4sarad | Jan 12, 2014 |
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After an earthquake destroys California and a tsunami wrecks the luxury cruise ship where he is a summer employee, high schooler Shy confronts another deadly surprise.

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