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The Living Hardcover – November 12, 2013

4 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Living Series

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In this tale brilliantly chronicles a fateful journey that begins with a single decision and ends up changing everything. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Much of the fun of de la Peña’s latest is how unexpectedly he blends genres, making this, in a sense, four books in one: a finely observed social-class drama, an on-the-sea survival adventure, a global-disaster book, and a contagion thriller. So be warned: spoilers ahoy. Shy Espinoza is 11 days into his summer job on a luxury cruise line when “the Big One” hits California, hurling massive tsunamis into the ocean and tearing our contemporary romantic plotline to bits, as Shy and an unexpected companion are forced to survive in churning, shark-infested waters. The tsunami sequence is a straight-up tour de force, a breathless, horrifying dash into the void. The book’s final act—a conspiracy plot upon a mysterious island—is yet another narrative jolt. Can a book withstand this many resets? Mostly, yes, and that’s due to de la Peña’s narrative restraint and commitment to his unusually believable protagonist. Shy’s no superhero, and that’s a relief. What tonal bumps do exist may very well be smoothed out in the 2014 sequel—this story deserves a broader canvas. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus

Review

“De la Peña has created a rare thing: a plot-driven YA with characters worthy of a John Green novel.”-Entertainment Weekly, A-
 
“Action is first and foremost. . . . De la Peña can uncork delicate but vivid scenes.” —The New York Times

“[The Living] is special because of its extraordinary protagonist, Shy, who I haven’t been able to shake from my mind in the weeks since I read the book.”-John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars

"There's no way to classify The Living. It's everything I love mixed into one fantastic, relentless, action-packed story. As always with Matt, the characters are the best part. So real. I loved this book."-James Dashner, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Maze Runner series

[STAR] "An addictive page-turner and character-driven literary novel with broad appeal for fans of both."-Kirkus Reviews, Starred

[STAR] "An excellent, enthralling ride...a great read for those looking for adventure and survival stories."-VOYA, Starred

[STAR] "In Matt de la Peña's compulsively readable thriller...the breakneck plot will draw readers in, but Shy's personal discoveries about how the world is skewed toward those in power, and his decisions to do the right thing, will hold their attention."-Shelf Awareness, Starred

"A disaster epic, a survival story, and a coming-of-age novel filled with the life of a young man who's becoming aware of class, prejudice, and romance."-NPR Weekend Edition

"De la Peña delivers near-constant action, a high body count, and a compelling cast of characters in this socially aware thriller."-Publishers Weekly

"Adventure survival enthusiasts will relish the vivid and raw descriptions of the sinking ship, blistering sun, and shark-infested waters. But most appealing is the empathetic teen, portrayed as a tough guy with a romantic side, who will appeal to both males and females, and is likely to appear in the upcoming sequel."-School Library Journal

"A  straight-up tour de force, a breathless, horrifying dash into the void...the fun of de la Peña's latest is how unexpectedly he blends genres, making this, in a sense, four books in one: a finely observed social-class drama, an on-the-sea survival adventure, a global-disaster book, and a contagion thriller."-Booklist

A Pura Belpré Author Honor Award Winner

An ALSC Notable Children's Book Pick
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; First Edition edition (November 12, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385741200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385741200
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #590,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Wow! This is so much more than just your average poor boy gets stranded in the ocean with a little rich girl after a tsunami takes out the cruise ship book! Shy is just a kid trying to make some much needed summer money by working on a cruise ship. He is trying to help his mom make ends meet and there is a strange disease that is affecting his whole family in San Diego. He has made friends on the ship and there is one girl in particular that he would like to know a lot better. Things look good until the night he tried to stop a man from committing suicide. Things get a lot worse in short order. We find Shy and one other survivor stranded on a lifeboat fighting sharks, hunger and the brutal sun. Will they make it to safety? Did others make it or are they alone? What is happening with this strange epidemic that is wiping out much of the population in the West? Fast-paced storyline with cliff hangers to keep us going until the next installment, "The Living" is sure to please adventure seeking readers.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't "review" books in general, but when I read one that is worth telling everyone about I'm happy to give a shout-out. "The Living" by Matt de la Pena is most definitely one of those books. It is probably worth mentioning that I am not the target audience for this book, and it is not the type of book I normally choose to read. Matt sold me on himself, as a person, first, and that intrigued me to read something he wrote.

I ran across Matt de la Pena for the first time at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference in Missouri a few weeks ago. He was one of the keynote speakers. I had a manuscript critique scheduled at the same time (with his editor, interestingly enough), so I missed the first half of the talk. When I came back into the conference room, the whole place was laughing and fully engaged. That's something unusual to find after the long morning they had already been through and right after lunch. It didn't take me long to figure out why they were so entertained. He was interesting to listen to and told his stories in a delightful and humorous way. I knew I would have to check out his books right away.

The first few books Matt has written are YA stories focused on inner-city and low income kids facing challenges in their own communities. I love the fact that those books are out there, but I wasn't sure how much I could connect with them--being near 50 and about as WASPy as one can get. But his new book, "The Living," stepped outside of that and put his characters in a world I could relate to. Some of the language and phrasing threw me off a bit at first, but I got used to it quickly and just got lost in the story. It's hard to say much of anything without giving away the fun of being shocked by events as they unfold.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Have you ever read one of those books that leave you scratching your head? The Living by Matt De La Pena did just that to me.

I selected this book after reading a blurb about it in a magazine. The blurb said a few things that immediately caught my interest: dystopia, pandemic, California Earthquake. It indicated that this was a new and exciting voice in dystopic fiction.

I bought it, and there are a few things you need to know:

First of all, this isn't dystopic…yet. There is a pandemic in the background. It doesn't become important to the story until the very end of the book. This is, instead, reminiscent of those slightly cheesy block buster disaster flicks you see on a certain science fiction network. (I described it to someone as largely a mix of Titanic and Life of Pi.)

The book is also extremely short for what I paid for it. I wouldn't have minded if the book didn't end abruptly. I think somewhere it's described as a cliffhanger. It's not. It's basically the end of a chapter and the book is over until the next one.

Now, I know it sounds a bit like I'm panning the book. I'm really not, but I think you should know what you're getting and what you're not.

Thinking of the book as a disaster book, it's fun, it's cheesy, it's thoroughly improbable, and I actually did enjoy it (once I stopped looking for it to be a dystopia!). You've got a terrific group of characters, some heartbreak, action and adventure, and yes…cheese. Now it is improbable. No spoilers here, but you are left scratching your head a lot. Why on earth did they do that? Wait a second…if they were going to do that to them, why bother with everything else they did?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When you are in a book slump, you need something exciting to really grab you and force you to plow through with the excitement and enthusiasm you are struggling to find in other books. For me, The Living by Matt de la Pena was just that book. Need a little excitement in your life? Look no further! This will grab you like a tsunami, and won't let go until its ready.

Shy took the job on the cruise line to make some money this summer. His mother was worried about him, but how much could go wrong on a cruise ship? Besides, with the Romero virus going around, home wasn't so safe either. Having watched his grandmother succumb to the disease, he doesn't think he could watch someone he loves go through that again. Life on the cruise ship isn't so bad. You work a lot catering to the ridiculously wealthy, but most are nice enough. When a strange man throws himself off the side of the boat, Shy is the one who tries to save the man. But after a cryptic "death bed confession", Shy loses the man to the sea. Now, a few weeks later, a strange man is on the new cruise and everyone keeps telling Shy the man is looking for him. Shy can only avoid him for so long. Especially when he has no idea what the man would want from a simple poor kid from California on the Mexican border.

When word gets around that something catastrophic has happened to the US, Shy can't imagine the state of devastation his home is in. An earthquake like no other ravaged the West Coast and has left most of the states of California, Oregon, and Washington completely devastated. Everyone on the ship is reeling from the news, but they have no idea what is about to come their way. With an earthquake that close to the coast, a tsunami is bound to be close on its heals.
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