The Living by Matt de la Peña

13515320Shy 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.
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. (synopsis from Goodreads)

Rating: 6/10

I consider this book as a sort of summertime blockbuster movie hit. Once the actions started, it kept going until the very end. Almost to the point that the plot suffers. Just like a summertime blockbuster.

The beginning starts out with a dramatic scene that would probably traumatize anyone else involve except apparently this main character. While he doesn’t sometimes think back on what happened and occasionally has nightmares, he doesn’t seem nearly as shaken about it as one would expect. On top of this, the action slows way down for a while that is probably longer than it should be, then all of sudden WHAM! California gets hit with The Big One. You know, the big earthquake tsunami couple that the West Coast it dreading. Except this Big One is much bigger than the one we are actually waiting for. It seems so overdone that sounds more like the end of the world.

Naturally, the main character gets stranded at sea with a rich passenger he doesn’t like. Obviously. Then it gets slow for a while, than it picks up again and by the end we are left rather confused and questioning the intelligence of scientists.

Despite the fact that I believe there are way too many plots going on in this book as well as gaping plot holes that annoy me I still didn’t hate the book. I thought what Matt de la Peña was doing with the book, especially toward the end, was interesting, and I hope that he fleshes it out more in his second book. Yes, this is a series. There were a few things that he touched on that I felt he should have expanded one, like the differences between classes and how people in these classes view each other. I felt this was a theme that could have been more present, however there were some great scenes that touched on the issues of not just class but of ethnicity as well, and the assumptions that are often made based on these. It was also great to read a book with a Mexican-American protagonists. There isn’t enough diversity in YA lit, so it’s good see it when it happens.

Overall, I think that this could make an interesting movie, and while I didn’t much care for it, (mostly cause it’s just not my style) I still think that it is an important YA book that deserves the attention it gets since it touches on such important social issues that teens really do care about even though we tend to think they don’t. Peña has managed to start a very important conversation with this book. One that shouldn’t be ignored but is sometimes difficult to start, and for that I applaud him. *claps*

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