By: K. Patrick Cassell, Deseret News"THE LIVING," by Matt de la Peña, Delacorte Press, $17.99, 320 pages (f) (ages 16 and up)
In "The Living," author Matt de la Peña tells the story of Shy, a young man working his first voyage on a luxury cruise ship. When a massive series of earthquakes strikes the west coast of the United States, the resulting tsunami waves force an evacuation and struggle for survival at sea and on a mysterious hidden island.
The resulting tale in "The Living" is an entertaining teen read. It has elements of adventure, science fiction, and suspense, and the narrative is both apocalyptic and dystopian.
The book starts with Shy handing out bottles of water on the Honeymoon Deck. He meets an older man who says strange things. After being distracted by other passengers, Shy sees the man climb over the railing. Shy tries to save him, but the man falls into the sea.
On Shy's second cruise, a man in a dark suit keeps watching him. During this journey, giant tsunami waves destroy the boat, setting in motion a chaotic escape from the sinking vessel.
From the beginning, Shy shows an interest in Carmen, one of his fellow crew members. He later becomes close to Addison, also known as Addie, who he shares a lifeboat with for several days. Shy starts to learn about the complexities of affection and love as his attention becomes divided between the two young women.
One of the impressive things about this tale is how, from time to time, Shy experiences growth in his understanding of people and the world. He comes to realize that petty arguments are not that important. He discovers that some people have good in them even if they portray a rough exterior image.
While lost at sea, Shy thinks about how small the impact of each person is in the big picture of the Earth. These moments of epiphany serve as growth events in Shy's maturing comprehension of life.
"The Living" has several instances of swearing and violence, including violence resulting in death. There are some graphic descriptions of death and injuries caused by natural disasters. The story also has some intimate moments, including a scene where two of the teens make out.
Copyright 2013 Deseret Digital Media, Inc.