Wednesday, January 08, 2014

The Living (2013)

The Living. Matt de la Pena. 2013. Random House. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The Living is a fast read. It's an interesting blend of genres: survival fiction (natural disaster), romance, mystery, horror, AND medical thriller (conspiracies, evil corporations, oh my!).

Shy, the book's hero, is working a summer job on a cruise ship. He's gotten close to a couple of guys and one girl in particular, Carmen. He's fallen hard for her. She's engaged to another guy, a law student. Shy is a mostly good guy who is not out to steal someone else's girlfriend. He's not out to get her to cheat on this guy. He just likes talking to her about anything and everything, no topics are off limits, really. She just really understands him in a way like no one else. On his latest trip, he has the feeling that someone is watching him, in a creepy not-normal way. He's right: someone wants to know EVERYTHING about a certain suicide that Shy witnessed on the last voyage.

Survival on the open sea. Something BIG and catastrophic happens. (A chain of somethings.) Shy is on board a small boat (life boat? raft? one of the two.) with only a very injured business man and a very young, very attractive young woman. Their days on the sea, their fight for survival, creates a bond, despite the fact that these two have zero in common with each other--and outside of this specific situation they'd never speak to one another. Will they survive? Will they reach land? Is help on the way? When does life return to normal again?

The Living is bleak, in a way. The novel is very up front about death. The first death (by suicide) opening in the prologue. The body count just increases from there. It's also extremely action-packed with just a few meaning-of-life conversations thrown in.

It is the first book in a series. I would say it doesn't have a proper end, and that it might best be saved for late summer (or early fall) 2014 so that you only have a few weeks to wait for the next book.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Anonymous,  1:33 AM  

Hi Becky,

I really liked your review on The Living. I'm intrigued..made me want to read the book! Keep up the good work...Love your Blog Site..lots to see/read, lots of info; like your challenges. Could spend hours on this blog site alone! :-D


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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

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