Series: The Living #1
Published by Delacorte Press
Published on November 12th 2013
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dystopian / Post-Apocalyptic, Family, Love & Romance, Mystery, Post-Apocalyptic, Survival Stories, Young Adult
Shy 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—every cruise has different passengers, after all.
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.
I was at a bookstore on vacation, and I had an overwhelming urge to buy books, even though I usually don’t let myself. Unfortunately, the bookstore I visited was not well stocked on YA fiction, so I ended up picking some books that I had never heard about before. This is one of those books.
The Living has a pretty cool premise. A guy named Shy starts work on a cruise ship, only to learn about a massive earthquake that has completely shaken the state of California. From there, there is disaster after disaster, and for the people on the cruise ship, it is a fight for survival. It promises intrigue, suspense, thrills, and characters that are, according to Entertainment Weekly, “worthy of a John Green novel”.
An exciting premise, sure, but the execution was unfortunately lacking. This book fell into the trap of trying too hard to make readers like the characters. Shy, for example, was a character who the author tried too hard to make us root for. He has it all: he’s decently good looking, humble, kind, brave, and selfless. But it was too forced. This may be a result of the author telling, rather than showing, how great his character is. Because he tried too hard to make me like Shy, I ended up liking him less.
The secondary characters were nothing special- I didn’t hate any of them but none of them provided any particular amount of depth. This could be because the author introduced virtually all secondary characters at once, which usually makes it pretty hard to be able to develop them in a unique way. A couple characters who were introduced individually later on, like Addie and Shoeshine, were more interesting and complex.
Because I had trouble connecting to the characters early on, it was hard for me to really get into the story. The story took a while to really get going, but when it did, the pace never let up. There were twists and disasters around every corner, and the story was full of mystery, horror, and conspiracies. The climax was so crazy that I actually want to read the next book to find out what happens, even though my connection to the characters is not that strong.
If you’re going to read this book, read it for the plot, and not the characters. It’s a shame, because the book is brilliantly plotted and moves very quickly, but the characters are too dull and fabricated to really connect to. The Living works well as a time-killer on a road trip, but it most likely will not make a lasting impact on you.
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