cover image The Living

The Living

Matt de la Peña. Delacorte, $17.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-385-74120-0

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. Shy Espinoza’s summer gig working on a luxury cruise ship is not going as planned. On his first voyage, he witnesses a suicide up-close and personal; now he’s having nightmares, and a mysterious man in black wants to know what the dead man told Shy before he slipped through his fingers into the ocean. Back in California, Shy’s nephew has been diagnosed with the mysterious, border-jumping disease that killed his grandmother. Then, in the wake of a massive environmental catastrophe, Shy struggles to survive in a waterlogged life raft with Addie, a spoiled rich girl who just a few days earlier was out of his league; what follows only deepens the mystery about the events battering Shy’s life. 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. Ages 14–up. Agent: Steven Malk, Writer’s House. (Nov.)