Audiobook Review: The Living

Okay, here’s the deal. I do not read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction nor am I the target audience for this book. The latter is really important because I found this book to be extremely predictable, though I know a lot of teenagers will not. It’s just that I read a lot of stories, and I have watched a lot of movies, so I pretty much called everything that was going to happen.

My biggest issue with the book, though, is that I felt like it could’ve been a lot shorter. There’s just a lot happening in the beginning to lay the foundation for everything that happens after The Big One hits, and so much of it felt extraneous–especially when Shy will have a conversation with someone and then recap that same conversation in the next breath. I get why so many characters are introduced (they do become important later), but I couldn’t help thinking that if the book were turned into a movie, a lot of that would have been compressed and the gist still would’ve been gotten.

Also, I know it’s important to have a big conspiracy as the framework for the novel, but (and this is a personal peeve of mine) The Big One hitting and being stranded on a cruise ship because of that is ENOUGH OF A CONFLICT. Like, I know our characters need to have a quest and it has to be complicated, but that’s complicated enough for me.

I don’t want to get too down on the book because I did listen to the whole thing, and I was interested in how it would all turn out. I also think it would probably be REALLY popular with teenagers. Shy is an interesting character, and I can see kids imagining how they would react in his situation. The language was also mostly believable (the girl characters, not so much — this may have actually been the fault of the audiobook narrator; I was not overly impressed with how he did the girls’ voices), and the exchanges between characters felt authentic. I also found myself thinking like a boy for parts of it, which is troubling but also shows how into Shy’s head I was. (Oh, and it’s troubling because the things I was thinking were not nice and was totally something a Nice Guy would think.) (These thoughts mostly involved Carmen. If you read the book, you’ll know why.)

So, yeah, this was mostly okay for me.

I did find myself thinking that this would make an excellent crossover with Beauty Queens and that Shy probably would have had a much easier time surviving if he had read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. So yay for books that make me think of other books.

Top Ten Books that Celebrate Diversity

Ah, a topic near and dear to my heart. Obviously, I think books that feature POC or are written by POC qualify for this, so I have lots of choices. But I really want to focus on books that celebrate diversity in the sense that they show within the narrative why different viewpoints/experiences are valuable as opposed to just opening us up to different viewpoints and experiences, if that makes sense.

hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
hosted by The Broke and the Bookish


1. The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer — Cinder and her merry band of misfits are going to save the world, and they each have a special skill set that will help them accomplish that goal.

2. The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan — The Greek and Roman demigods are going to save the world, and they each have a special skill set that will help them accomplish that goal. (Heeeeeey, wait a minute.)

3. The Westing Game by Ellen Rankin — I recently reread this book and was struck by how many different points of view it includes. The characters are all different ages, races, ethnicities, education levels, etc. One character even has cerebral palsy. Oh, I’m sorry, a mysterious muscle disease.

4. This Side of Home by Renée Watson — Lest you think all black people are a monolithic entity with the same ideas about gentrification, how to wear their hair, and/or interracial dating, Watson introduces you to twins Nikki and Maya (and their friends) who have very different ideas about the changes happening in their neighborhood.

5. Where Does the Day Go? by Walter Dean Myers — As I said in my review, this book treats the ideas and opinions of the children seriously and with respect, which leads to them having a thoughtful conversation that builds on the ideas that each of them shares.

6. Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson — Kamala is the best, and I won’t hear otherwise. Plus also, let her show  you why only having one kind of heroine represented is problematic. (Sooooo problematic.)

7. Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz — What’s most impressive about this book is that black, bisexual Etta who thinks she is worldly still gets to learn that no, not so much.

8. The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson — It’s a middle school heist story about a bunch of kids that each have a special skill set that will help them accomplish that goal.

9 / 10. Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang — These companion graphic novels are about the Chinese Boxer rebellion and showcase main characters involved at very, very different levels of the conflict.

I’ve also created a Goodreads shelf for all the books I’ve read for this year’s Diversity on the Shelf challenge if you’re looking for even more books featuring characters of color.