YA Thriller/Suspense

ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers

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It has been a whole year since the night of the party, the back of Turner’s truck, and the terrible moments that are still etched in Romy’s mind.  A whole year of no one believing her, of everyone calling her a liar and a drunk like her father. A whole year of torment and bullying at school. And no friends. Not even Penny anymore. But when she gets a job at a diner in the next town, Romy meets Leon and suddenly sees an opportunity for happiness, an opportunity to put her past self behind her and start a relationship with someone who doesn’t know her history.  But when Penny goes missing, Romy’s already fragile world starts crashing down.

This gritty novel about rape culture and bullying is an intense and suspenseful read.  I read it in one sitting. Do not expect to find too much hope in this book, although there is some. The narrative focuses on exposing the dark side of reality and the culture of objectification and bullying often encountered by rape survivors. 

For a still realistic but less bleak treatment of similar subject matter, I would recommend Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

LIARS, INC by Paula Stokes

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As he stands with a gun in his hand, cornered by armed FBI agents, Max finally starts to wish he weren’t so good at lying.  He, Parvati, and Preston had started Liars, Inc in order to provide their friends with cover stories to sneak out on all kinds of fun adventures without their parents’ knowledge.  So when Preston wants to go to Vegas for the weekend, Max naturally covers for him.  But when Preston never comes home, Max’s lies make him suspect number one.  Even worse, someone seems to have planted evidence in Max’s car.  His only hope is to go on the run, find out who has Preston, and rescue him before it’s too late.

This thriller starts with a great hook, then rolls out the back story which both is compelling in itself and lays out the clues and suspense for the intense mystery that follows.  I read it in one sitting!  Liars Inc will appeal most to older teen readers who enjoy mysteries and suspense.

ALL FALL DOWN by Ally Carter

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Everyone thinks Grace is crazy, but she’s not.  She saw the scar-faced man shoot her mother.  She knows the fire wasn’t an accident.  But the lack of a bullet wound in the coroner’s report and the lack of evidence on security cameras led to years of shrinks and being shuffled from school to school.  Now she’s been sent to Adria to live with her grandfather the ambassador who hasn’t seen her since her mother’s death.  After so long away, Adria is both familiar and foreign, and reminders of her mother are everywhere.  But when Grace stumbles into a secret meeting in the abandoned Iranian embassy, she recognizes the scar-faced man instantly.  Dismissed by her grandfather as fatigued and confused, Grace must seek the help of new friends and friends from her childhood to navigate the hidden tunnels of Embassy Row and find her mother’s killer before he kills again.

This fast-paced, suspenseful mystery features a spirited and mischievous heroine and a cast of colorful supporting characters.  The gradual revelation of clues and an unreliable narrator make the ending difficult to guess but allow the reader to remain constantly involved in puzzling out the mystery.  A thrilling start to what promises to be a compelling series!  This book will likely appeal to mystery/thriller loving teens of a variety of ages.

THE HAUNTING OF SUNSHINE GIRL by Paige McKenzie

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Sunshine doesn’t mind moving from Texas to Washington State. She has to leave her good friends behind, but she still has her best friend–her mother–and she is thrilled that her mom got this awesome new job opportunity. But when they arrive in their new house, it quickly becomes clear to Sunshine that something is wrong. There are strange noises in the night, and unexplained occurrences that can only mean one thing: ghosts. But her mother doesn’t believe her. And worse than that, something seems to be taking hold of her mother’s mind and changing her. With the help of her new friend Nolan, Sunshine races to find out what is happening to her mother before it is too late, and in the process, stumbles upon a secret about herself that she never could have imagined.

I never got into the web series, of the same name but I loved this novel adaptation, which has a quicker start, more character development, and a fleshed-out plot.  It has all of the elements of a creepy ghost story, as well as the start of a suspenseful fantasy series with an endearing heroine. I highly recommend it to teen readers to enjoy ghost stories, coming-of-age stories, and suspense!

TWISTED FATE by Norah Olson

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Ally has always been the sweet, perfect one in the family.  So it is not surprising to her younger sister, Syd, when she begins baking blueberry muffins for the weird new guy next door. She seems to see only the good in him. But Syd can tell that there is something sinister in Graham’s past. His obsession with film-making is not just artistic; it’s creepy.  But Ally fails to see Graham’s dark side, and the closer she gets to him, the more certain Syd becomes that she is in great danger.

GENERAL SPOILERS FOLLOW IN MY ASSESSMENT

It is rare that an ending causes me to strongly dislike a book that I had been greatly enjoying. Unfortunately, that was the case with this novel. That said, I do think that this book will find its readers. It is written in a very suspenseful style which makes it difficult to put down. But because of the ending, it will be best for people who enjoy crazy random twists in their books. I like twists sometimes, but I felt that this particular twist took away from what had been a very intriguing suspenseful plot.  For those who are really into twists, though, it may just seem like an added bonus.

WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart

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They called themselves the Liars–Cadence, her cousins Mirren and Johnny, and their friend Gat. They had been coming with their families to their grandfather’s private island every summer since forever. Although they didn’t see one another all year long, in the summers they were confidantes, co-conspirators, best friends. But everything changed in summer fifteen when Cadence had her accident. It left her with crippling migraines and took almost all of her memories of that summer and the accident itself. All she remembers is Gat and the beach roses and holding hands under the stars. Since her mother won’t tell her what happened, and the Liars seem to be doing their best to ignore her questions, it is up to Cady to piece together her memories of summer fifteen. What was so horrific the her brain won’t let her remember? How did her relationship with Gat change so much in so short a time? And is there really such a thing as a second chance?

I didn’t figure this book out before the big reveal. I thought I did early on, but second guessed myself. I actually ended up reading it twice to find all the clues I missed. This suspenseful novel starts off deceivingly light, but be prepared for an intense read. I’m still thinking about it. I would recommend this book to teens who like heavy realistic fiction.

If you liked We Were Liars, you might like If I Stay by Gayle Forman, The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock, and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.

SHE IS NOT INVISIBLE by Marcus Sedgwick

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Only at Heathrow airport does Laureth realize the gravity of what she has done.  Technically, she has kidnapped her seven-year-old brother, Benjamin.  But it was all for good reason.  Laureth is convinced that her father is in danger in America.  A stranger found his notebook of writing ideas just lying on the ground next to a railroad track–and Laureth’s father never goes anywhere without his notebook.  When her mother won’t listen to her concerns, Laureth decides to take matters into her own hands and travel to America to find him.  But she can’t do it on her own.  Laureth is blind, and she needs someone to help her navigate through the airport and the city.  So Laureth and Benjamin arrive in New York City and begin the search for their father.  But when a series of coincidences complicate their search, they begin to wonder if their father’s obsession with writing a book about coincidence has led him down a dangerous path.

This novel is part thriller, part mystery, and part treatise on the theory of synchronicity (coincidence).  It definitely kept me turning pages.  But in the end, the stakes were not actually very high so the conclusion was not overly satisfying.  Still, an intriguing read for teens who like character-driven mysteries/thrillers.