The Living, by Matt de la Peña (audio)

thelivingThe summer before his senior year in high school, Shy gets a job as a crew member on a luxury cruise ship. All seems right with the world, until 1) his nephew contracts a deadly new disease making its way across California, and 2) a series of major earthquakes hit just off the US coast.

This book was one of the free audio selections for Sync YA this summer. I wasn’t sure if it would be my kind of book, but decided to give it a try. I was hooked pretty quickly.

I’ve been on two cruises – not luxury cruises like the one in this book, but also not Carnival – and one of the things I found most fascinating was the complex mix of passengers and crew. For awhile now, I’ve wanted to read something from the perspective of crew, and this was exactly it. At least, it was exactly what I’d been looking for in the first half of the book. The second half was all adventure, mystery, chaos, and survival. Not saying that’s a bad thing, because that was interesting, too. Nor did it feel like two books – the transition worked really well. Just pointing out the progression of the story.

To be honest, I’m not sure what to say about this book. It isn’t at all something I would have expected. I liked it a lot, and I’m definitely looking forward to the second book of the series. The writing was excellent, the characterization – especially coming from many different kinds of cultures – was spot-on, and the story was absolutely riveting. But it’s not at all what I’ve come to expect from most contemporary YA. The book didn’t sugarcoat prejudice, or the horrors of disaster, or the greed and corruption often caused by money. I mean, the novel starts with a suicide scene! At the same time, it’s still YA, and fits that age group perfectly.

In other words, it’s very different from other books I’ve read, and totally worth reading. Awesome.

Performance: The audiobook is read by Henry Leyva, who did a good job with the reading. I didn’t even mind the accents this time! My only problem with this particular audiobook (downloaded from Sync YA) was that there seemed to be a slight corruption with a few of the files. A couple times, a portion would be read earlier than it should have been, then reread in the right place not long afterward. That was a little confusing, but thankfully it only happened a few times.

About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
This entry was posted in 2015, Prose, Young Adult and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Living, by Matt de la Peña (audio)

  1. Word Lily says:

    I read this one after finding it on a list of award winners earlier this year. It’s definitely stayed with me, but it also gave me nightmares. 😦


    • Amanda says:

      I can totally see it giving nightmares. The part about the waves crashing into the boat, specifically, were very vivid! Especially for someone who has been on cruises!


  2. Pingback: Sunday Coffee – Things I Love | The Zen Leaf

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