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.

  • 2014 Pura Belpre Honor book
  • 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults
  • 2014 ALSC Notable Children’s Book
  • A Junior Library Guild Selection
  • Starred review in Kirkus
  • Starred review in Shelf Awareness
  • Starred review in Voya
  • The Latinidad List: Best Young Adult Novel
  • 2015 Texas Tayshas Reading List
  • Alaska Battle of the Books Selection


The Living seamlessly incorporates his trademarks (racial identity, class, street slang) into a lightning-paced page-turner…De la Peña has created a rare thing: a plot-driven YA with characters worthy of a John Green novel. A-” — Entertainment Weekly

“Breathtaking.” — NY Times

*”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 review)

*“Disaster’s a powerful teacher, Shy’s adventures, the ultimate learning experience; it’s a harrowing, exhilarating ride right up to the cliffhanger ending. Relax: A sequel’s on the way. An addictive page-turner and character-driven literary novel with broad appeal for fans of both.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

*“A great read for those looking for adventure and survival stories with some good character growth and introspection for others, this should have a wide and satisfied readership.” — VOYA (starred review)

“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.” — Booklist

“De la Peña (I Will Save You) delivers near-constant action, a high body count, and a compelling cast of characters in this socially aware thriller… De la Peña injects his hybrid natural/medical disaster novel with sharp commentary on social injustice, classism, and discrimination, and the effects of the story’s many calamities set the stage for a planned sequel.” — 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 . . . ” — School Library Journal

“Peña takes the time to establish some solid rapport among his characters before unleashing the mayhem, though, and the central disease and drug scam is so viciously immoral that readers will probably book passage on the upcoming sequel, to learn whether Shy and his two smokin’-hot love interests will bring the bad guys to their knees.” — The Bulletin