Audiobook Review: The Living

July 21, 2015

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.

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