Sunday, May 18, 2014

"[T]he unexplainable world is constant and forever marching forward."

I've liked Matt de la Peña since I read Mexican WhiteBoy and Ball Don't Lie. Many of his books are about finding one's identity, and that is something that I find to be so important in the work that I do as a high school English teacher.

This novel was unlike de la Peña's other works. It was intense, and it read more like a thriller. I found myself staying up into the night to finish this book. I wanted--I needed--to know what would happen to Shy after the cruise liner he was working on was hit by a tsunami. I found myself making predictions on every page, trying to connect it to other adventure novels I'd read and TV shows that I watch.

There are so many reasons why students should read this book. In particular, I like the way that de la Peña was able to explore themes of greed and class differences in subtle ways. He really revealed how complex human interaction can be, as Shy, the protagonist that lives in a poor neighborhood near San Diego, interacts with Addie, the daughter of a wealthy businessman. More importantly, the language felt real. I remember being a teenager, and the voice seems so authentic at times. You feel as if you are inside Shy's head as he interacts with characters and reflects on the dire situations he finds himself in.

I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to the sequel to this novel, The Hunted, that is to be released this fall!

You might like this book if you've read Yann Martel's Life of Pi, as it deals with survival on the open sea, or The Walking Dead, as the novel has a similar plot line where a deadly disease has begun to take over.

For more reading, check out Matt de la Peña's NPR interview here.

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