6 Matt de la Peña Books YA Lovers Should Read

by Sadie Trombetta

Whether it's in the form of a TV show, a blockbuster hit, a novel adaptation, or the traditional book, I love comics. When it was announced that Matt de la Peña would be writing a new young adult adaptation of Superman's story, I couldn't wait to revisit his six amazing books every YA lover should read. We will all have to anxiously await the release of de la Peña's exciting new project, but he has plenty of great books to keep us busy in the meantime.

The author of six young adult novels and two picture books, Matt de la Peña is a talented author and an important and influential voice in the literary community. From apocalyptic survival stories to coming-of-age novels, all of his books have one thing in common: incredible storytelling. Each of de la Peña's novels feature diverse characters who have universal experiences (okay, maybe not the whole catastrophic earthquake thing, but you get what I mean) that readers can understand and relate to. His stories are honest and emotional, and whether they're set in a city not unlike your own or amidst an unimaginable environmental disaster, they're vivid and realistic tales that hook readers from the first page and don't let up until the last word.

If you're as excited for the new DC young adult series as I am, then you're going to need something to keep your mind occupied while you wait. Here are 6 Matt de la Peña books YA lovers should read while they count down the days.

1. The Living

The first of two thrilling young adult survival novels, The Living is an exciting page-turner. When Shy accepts a summer job on a cruise liner, the last thing he expects is to find himself fighting for his life in the wake of natural disasters. A well-rounded story with heart-thumping action, a suspicious and intriguing mystery, poignant social commentary, and unforgettable characters, The Living is Matt De la Peña at his finest.

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2. The Hunted

Just as stunning as the book that preceded it, The Hunted is a worthy follow up to The Living. In the suspenseful sequel, Shy finds himself rescued from the terrors of the ocean, but in even more danger than ever before. A breathtaking book with a unique story and characters that stick with you, The Hunted is a must-read.

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3. Mexican WhiteBoy

No matter their race or gender, readers will be able to see themselves reflected in the characters of De la Peña's Mexican White Boy. A powerful story about inner-city life, growing up, friendship, and identity, this inspiring novel will make you fall in love with de la Peña's storytelling.

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4. We Were Here

A gripping story about the power of friendship and our capacity for survival, We Were Here is a compelling novel that will keep you turning pages all night long. After Miguel is is sentenced to serve time at juvenile detention center, he struggles to move on from the tragic events that lead him there. Little did he know, it was just the beginning of a perilous journey that would change his life.

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5. I Will Save You

Everyone loves an underdog, especially one as charming as the troubled yet lovable Kidd in De la Peña's I Will Save You. After a tragedy takes his family from him, Kidd finds himself fleeing his group home and settling in on the beach where, if he gives it a shot, he might find love. Told through journal entries and punctuated with violence and mystery, I Will Save You is an unforgettable and touching story.

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6. Ball Don't Lie

A book about one of Matt de la Peña's most vivid characters, the confused yet ultimately lovable Sticky, Ball Don't Lie is an inspiring story about urban life, race, class, and, of course, basketball. Featuring realistic characters and emotionally-driven plot lines, this is classic de la Peña, not to be missed.

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Images: Ryley Reads/Instagram