At the beginning of July, I got an idea for a YA Thriller. If you don’t know, I’m currently studying English Literature and Creative Writing at degree level, and have hopes to publish a book one day (in some near or far universe).
I knew immediately that while I had a lot in front of me – research, building characters, growing a plot, and actually writing among other things – reading more YA thrillers had to be a priority. I love the genre but with recent writing slumps and lack of availability of the books themselves, I haven’t read as extensively in the genre as I want.
And if I’m writing in it, I want to know the genre inside and out.
Hence, book haul.
I’ve got ten books to talk about, all bought secondhand or from independent bookshops, so let’s get into it.
Eight Pieces of Silva by Patrice Lawrence
Becks and Silva live under the same roof, but they couldn’t be less like sisters. Becks likes watching loud superhero movies, girls, and chatting to anyone and everyone. Silva likes privacy; her bedroom is her oasis, and she has an unspoken rule that none of her family are allowed inside.
But then Silva goes missing. Becks enters Silva’s room. And finds eight clues about Silva’s secret life.
Can Becks piece the jigsaw together and find her, before it’s too late?
I’ve never read a book by Patrice Lawrence so that needs to change now. This is the most recent release on this list and probably the most hyped (at least in the circles I float around). The story sounds so intruiging and I love a good missing person story. I think it really ups the stakes for the characters and I can tell that this book is going to have some teenage sleuthing, which is my favourite.
Also black queer characters in a thriller? What’s not to love about that.
Pretending to be Erica by Michelle Painchaud
Erica Silverman was abducted when she was four. She was snatched outside of her kindergarten and never seen again. Over the past thirteen years, her multi-millionaire parents have spared no expense trying to find her. Then, one day, the miracle happens. Erica frees herself from her kidnappers and finds her way home. She is seventeen. Years of her life are lost. She is battered. She has PTSD. She has to relearn everything about who she is and where she’s from. And there’s one more thing: She is not Erica Silverman.
Violet is the daughter of the best con man in Las Vegas. She has spent her whole life preparing to step into the shoes of a girl she has never met. But she is also Violet, and she has a job: stay long enough to steal the legendary Silverman Painting. Walking a razor’s edge, calculating every decision, not sure sometimes who she is or what she is doing it all for, Violet is getting lost in her own lies…
Just to double check: we’ve got kidnapping, we’ve got millionaires, we’ve got conmen, we’ve got a heist, and we’ve got 250 pages to do it in?!
I’m so excited for this. Honestly, if the premise didn’t intrigue me (which it does), I would be down to read this book just to see how Michelle Painchaud pulls it off. I haven’t heard much about the book or the author so I’m going into it with no expectations or influence, and I’m hyped.
Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall
Once a year, a road appears in the woods at midnight and the ghost of Lucy Gallows beckons, inviting those who are brave enough to play her game. If you win, you escape with your life. But if you lose…
It’s almost a year since Becca went missing. Everyone else has given up searching for her, but her sister, Sara, knows she disappeared while looking for Lucy Gallows. Determined to find her, Sara and her closest friends enter the woods. But something more sinister than ghosts lurks on the road, and not everyone will survive.
This book seems to tip more into the horror side of the thriller genre, which is excellent news for me because I’m in a spooky old mood. I picked this up mostly on the urban legend element it has, and of course, the setting of the woods. I’m hopefully going to be going to a cottage for the weekend (I’ll have already been before this is posted, fingers crossed!) and it’s in the middle of the woods, so I might just have to take this one with me for the full immersion.
A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro
The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament.
From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder.
As a Sherlock Holmes fan, I really can’t believe I haven’t read this already, but here we are. I take it back that Pieces of Silva is the most hyped on this list, because that spot definitely goes to A Study in Charlotte. It’s got big shoes to fill but I have no doubt it’ll do it. Hopefully I’ll love it enough to carry on with the rest in the series.
My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
Seventeen-year-old Che Taylor loves his younger sister, Rosa, even though she’s a textbook psychopath. He’s the only one who knows. Rosa tells him everything she’s up to, because she trusts her older brother with her darkest secrets. Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and very good at hiding what she is.
Now that their parents have moved the family to New York City, Rosa has even more opportunities to play her increasingly complex and disturbing games. Che has always protected his little sister from the world. But now he’s starting to wonder if the world might need protection from her.
Again, another book that leans more towards horror, and that I’m excited for. The synopsis gives me similar vibes to the film Thoroughbreds, and if the subject matter is handled sensitively enough, I think it could be great. While I’ve never done this for a book before, it was the reading the authors who blurbed the book that really sold it to me. Jason Reynolds and E. Lockhart raved about how terrifying and dark and brilliant this book is, and I trust their recommendations.
Pointe by Brandy Colbert
Theo is better now. She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction – and abductor. Donovan isn’t talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn’t do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she’s been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.
Brandy Colbert’s Little and Lion was one of my favourite books of the year when I read it. I loved how she built her characters, loved the sensitivity with which she wrote, and loved her style. So when her debut popped up on my endless seaches for YA thrillers, I immediately added it to the basket. I’m expecting for her writing to be different, given how much writers change with time and experience, but I’m sure it’ll still have the heart that Little and Lion had.
Also, my lockdown TV show has been Dance Moms and since I reached the end of that, I’ve been scouring for dance-related media everywhere.
The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas
There are secrets around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about what happened there that last summer. She and her childhood best friend, Callie, never talked about what they saw. Not before the trial. And certainly not after.
But Tessa still has questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette – to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.
Only, the closer Tessa gets to what really happened, the closer she gets to a killer – and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.
I’ve read this one already and I really enjoyed it. I give a mini review in my wrap up but just to summarise – I thought Tessa as a character was really well done and well-rounded, and I enjoyed the mystery element, though I did find the ending and reveal a little rushed. Check out my review if you’re interested in my more in-depth thoughts.
The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos
All Imogene Scott knows of her mother, the woman who abandoned her family, is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. Now Imogene is seventeen, and her father has snuck out in the middle of the night and hasn’t come back. Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. And it’s up to her to track down a woman she’s only known in stories in order to find him.
While typically I’m not a massive fan of thrillers where the child has to find their parent, I was drawn to this book because of the author. I’ve been trying to get my hands on Like Water by Rebecca Podos for years and it just hasn’t happened. Either my package has gone missing, it’s disappeared out of my cart, or it has been ridiculously expensive. I’ve come to terms with the fact that the relationship between me and that book is cursed, but I’m hoping that The Mystery of Hollow Places makes up for it.
Ten by Gretchen McNeil
It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives – three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minni each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, which will involve their school’s most eligible bachelor, T.J. Fletcher, and look forward to three glorious days of boys, bonding, and fun-filled luxury.
But what they expect is definitely not what they get. Suddenly, people are dying, and with a storm raging outside, the teens are cut off from the rest of the world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on one another, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she ever imagined?
This is the type of book I want to read in one night, curled up in my chair with the lamp on and a storm battering against my window. I’m ready for the drama and the mystery, and what I hope will be a chilling atmosphere. I haven’t read any reviews, so I’ll be going into it with no outside influence, and I hope it won’t disappoint!
All Of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor
Miri loves the novel Undertow like it’s a living being. So when she and her friends get the chance to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they plot a way to get closer to her. As for what happened with Jonah… Well, obviously that wasn’t Fatima’s fault.
Soleil wants to be a writer herself one day. She can’t believe it when Fatima asks them to hang out with her – and having Jonah there makes it even better.
Penny is more than the party girl everyone thinks she is, and she’s willing to share her darkest secrets with Fatima to prove it. But what will happen when Fatima finds out about Jonah?
Apparently this book is about obsession and revenge, two themes that most interest me in books, especially the former. I don’t know why but whenever the phrase ‘never meet your heroes’ is part of a book, I’m immediately there for it. I think there’s something so interesting in the way we revere the images celebrities present of themselves, and the lengths to which people will trust strangers they’ve never met before just because they’re famous.
Again, I’ve never read a book by Lygia Day Peñaflor but if I like it, she has another book about celebrity called Unscripted Joss Byrd which also sounds intriguing.
Those are the books! I’m looking forward to reading and dissecting them over the coming months and I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from them.
Are there any on this list that you’ve read or are on your TBR? Any that interest you? Let me know in a comment and we can chat!