Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Thrillers/Suspense

The Lying Game
Ware, Ruth
2 stars = Meh
Review:

In this book, you follow four childhood friends (shown from the perspective of Isa Wilde) as the secrets of their past actions come back to haunt them.
I was intrigued by the premise of the story, but for the most part, the story was pretty boring and predictable. The concept of a lying game in the past was interesting and I was excited to see how would play into the story. The secret about what happened almost 20 years earlier seemed really overplayed to me. What actually happened didn't really seem as much of a big reveal as I thought it would be. The final twist at the end of the book wasn't anything special and I figured it out pretty quickly compared to other stories. The ending was anti-climactic; by the end of the story, I wasn't invested. The characters were fine: originally, they seemed relatable and human for the most part, but as the story progressed, I grew to dislike a couple of the main characters. Their actions seemed abnormal and irritating, and even within the context of the story, I still couldn't get over it. This could have been a better book, but the payoff wasn't there.
Reviewer's Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Antwaan
Prey
Crichton, Michael
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Here, you follow Jack Forman as he wages through his wife's unusual behavior and the nanotechnology her company created and developed.
For my first Crichton novel, I really enjoyed it. Watching Jack as he waded through his suspicious and the dangers he faces was a thrill to watch. While the characters themselves felt a bit bland, the plot, scientific mystery, and thriller aspects of the story make up for it. Learning about nanotechnology and different parts of programming was also fun to read, even if I didn't understand all of it. The pacing of the novel was done pretty well, from the beginning with Jack's wife, to the her place of work later in the novel. The way the danger was presented and changed was done well and kept me on my toes until the resolution. I recommend this for those who like thrillers and/or sci-fi.
Reader's Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Antwaan
This Is Where It Ends
Nijkamp, Marieke
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

This Is Where It Ends follows four students who recount their perspectives going through a school shooting at Opportunity High. Initially, I was intrigued to read this book since it covers a very sensitive topic and is a topic that I was interested in learning more about. However, the novel completely missed all my expectations. Instead of a thoughtful, heavily researched, realistic story, I got a novel that seemed to be an insult to any school shooting victim. The novel was way too action-packed, in such a way that every single plot point in the book seemed wildly exaggerated. Making it worse, the school shooter in the novel was way too villainized. With cheesy lines and no real reasoning behind his actions, the author made it seem like the shooter was some kind of superhero comic villain, with no other drive for his actions besides to incite fear in others. There was no psychological deep dive into why the shooter, a previous student in the school, ended up in the way he did, and why he thought his only solution to his problems was to murder his classmates. It was a shame to read such a novel meant to address a major problem in America, but was instead contorted and desensitized in a way to appeal to the entertainment industry, and failed to have any educational value at all. To put it shortly, This Is Where It Ends seems more of an action-thriller novel, not one that is meant to be taken seriously at all.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
And Then There Were None
Christie, Agatha
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

And Then There Were None is one of the best that I have ever read. I loved watching the characters, especially because of the incredible detail that Agatha Christie used to describe them and their unique personalities. They all seem real to me. The book itself was ingenious, incorporating suspense and making every character a plausible suspect and a possible victim. I found myself turning back pages to get the facts again and again, without having a clue as to who was the murderer. I recommend this book for ages 13+ as all of the details and situations can be extremely hard to process.

Reviewer's Name: Kelsey
There's Someone Inside Your House
Perkins, Stephanie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As an avid Stephanie Perkins reader, this book is not her best work but still worth your time to read. There was ample suspense as Makani Young navigated the unfolding of an active serial killer's crimes in a small town, with a fast pace to not bore readers. Similar to thrillers like One of Us is Lying, I was constantly changing my mind as to who the killer could be. Do we pay attention to Ollie, the typical loner, or even one of Makani's own friends? Unfortunately, the movie adaptation did not do this story justice. Do not waver from trying it out if you stumbled across the movie first! It's not the darkest thriller I've read, but still disturbing enough to introduce a passion for the genre and keep you up at night.
Grade 11

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
One of Us Is Next
McManus, Karen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is the sequal to One of us is lying. In this book, there is a person who would like to continue Simon's legacy. A boy who framed 4 teenagers in detention on his death. But, it's a game of Truth or Dare. You do a crazy dare, like kiss someone or get one of your deepest secrets exposed. It turns out, this is just based on a revenge plan from 2 people, looking to ruin someone's life based off of past incidents.
This book is AMAZING. It was just a good as the first book, if not better. It has a great story line and plot and truly does keep you intrigued the whole time. I loved this book and would rate it a 10/10.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
One of Us is Lying
McManus, Karen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is about 4 highschool students who are in the classroom when another student dies. Since they are the only ones in the room, they are the ones who have to fight to prove that they are innocent and try to get their normal lives back. Throughout the book, each person gets framed at least once, with new evidence. You get a point of view of each person and others on who did it, and why.
This book was AMAZING! It kept me engaged the whole entire time and had me gasping at every plot twist. I know that alot of people have been posting about this book, but it is definitely worth the read. There is also a sequal, called One of us is next. I would rate this book a 10/10.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
Lightning Strike
Krueger, William Kent
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Lightning Strike is an excellent thriller. Cork O’Connor lives in his hometown of Aurora. Everything is normal and is going smoothly, until Cork discovers a dead man in the forest. It is deemed as a suicide. But Cork and his father have their own suspicions. Can they uncover the truth before it’s too late? I liked the setting and enjoyed the suspense. I chose this book because the book jacket captured my attention, and I wanted to find out what happens next. Cork O’Connor is curious about what took place, and also is great young sleuth. I appreciate Cork’s determination to solve the mystery. Lightning Strike was a great read and I would highly recommend it.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
Last Girl Ghosted
Unger, Lisa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Last Girl Ghosted was a great read. A young woman named Wren frequently does online dating. She meets a charming young man named Adam. Wren thinks Adam is the perfect match, until he completely goes cold turkey. Wren is baffled and completely heartbroken, until she finds out Adam has done the same exact thing to other women. And not just that, but Adam has a long history of being with women who later go missing. Can Wren quickly find out who Adam really is before it is too late? I chose this book because it’s a thriller and the plot seemed interesting. This book is full of surprises and will keep the reader interested throughout the whole book. Last Girl Ghosted goes in depth about the darkside of online dating and the Internet. I really liked the suspense and the countless cliffhangers. I would highly recommend reading this book.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
Confessions on the 7:45
Unger, Lisa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Confessions on the 7:45 was an excellent read. Selena barely makes the 745 train home, when she sits next to a strange woman whom she she makes an instant connection. This is when Selena confessed that her husband is having an affair with the nanny. And the strange woman listens and relates to Selena’s confession. Shortly after this train ride home the nanny goes missing. And a police investigation is launched. Was Selena’s husband involved? Or did does change woman have anything to do with? This book is a gripping novel that focuses on marriage and revenge. I picked this book because the book jacket seemed interesting. Confessions on the 745 is full of plot twists and will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. I really enjoyed the plot twists and the in depth descriptions of the character’s personality’s. I would highly recommend this book.

Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
The Secret History book jacket
Tartt, Donna
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Donna Tartt and her debut novel The Secret History is one that will stick with me for quite a long time.
The Secret History follows insecure Richard Papen, a somewhat timid boy from Plano California. Richard, desperate to leave Plano and his unattentive parents, decides to go to college at Hampden, a school in Vermont, specializing in Humanities. Of course, when Richard arrives, he completely falls in love with Hampden and its very "Dead Poets Society" vibe to the school. Previously wanting to be in the medical field, but soon after developing a distaste for the field, Richard promptly decides to turn to studying the classics. We discover Julian, the only teacher of Greek in the college, who only takes five students a year in his class. Somehow, Richard makes it into this selective course, becoming the sixth member. We as readers are introduced to the slightly odd and quirky members of the Greek class, and come along with Richard as he slowly develops a friendship with each of them. However, Richard deduces that something is off about his new friends, and with this, dark secrets are unraveled, and we watch as each of the classmates descend into madness.
The Secret History touches upon the study of human morality, and the concept that terrible things hold a kind of beauty to them. I really enjoyed reading this novel and being forced to face psychological dilemmas. What is good? What is evil? What makes someone good or evil? The Secret History really led me around by the nose, and I enjoyed the twists and turns I experienced because of this novel. There were many influential quotes in this story and the writing was beautiful. Even though the novel might have a darker mood, I couldn't help but be enraptured by every word Tartt set out for me.
Overall, if you enjoy a "dark academia" style of book, and is willing to read this novel with an open mindset, The Secret History is definitely for you.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
The Inheritance Games book cover
Barnes, Jennifer
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Inheritance Games is about a 17 year old named Avery who mysteriously is put into someones will and inherits billions of dollars. But, she has to live in the owner of the will's house for a year with his four grandsons. Within the year, Avery goes through a series of riddles to figure out why she was the random person chosen to inherit this mans fortunes. He could have chosen any of his family members, but he chose her. Battling some hate and jealousy, Avery works with the boys to figure why it was Avery and not the family.

I loved this book! It was such an amazing book! The mystery of what would happen next kept me intrigued the whole time. I could not put down the book! I reccomend this book to anyone and everyone who can read!

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
State of Terror book jacket
Clinton, Hillary Rodham and Penny, Louise
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

State of terror was was a great read. Multiple terrorist attacks take place across the world, which causes turmoil. Can the US Secretary of State find out who’s behind these attacks before it’s too late? Can she help prevent the next attack? I liked the plot twists in this book. State of Terror was unpredictable and keeps readers engaged throughout the book. I would definitely recommend reading State of Terror.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
Jurassic Park
Crichton, Michael
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

One of the greatest science fiction novels of the past century, Jurassic Park is a genius blend of thrills, likable characters, and philosophy deep enough to interest more mature readers while allowing younger adults and teenagers to be invested as well. The story revolves around a group of temporary advisers to an eccentric millionaire who has created his own dinosaur theme park. The park becomes far more dangerous, however, when a series of events leave the beasts free to roam the island.
The main cast is a group of fully realized characters of a variety of backgrounds, working together from their respective roles of the island to ensure their survival along with the others. Far from being simple Godzilla style creatures of destruction, the dinosaurs feel like characters of their own, with intelligence (especially among the raptors) and capabilities that are both realistic and terrifying. The scenes involving both the human and dinosaur cast are tense but still controlled, and no situation feels contrived or forced.
Jurassic Park is a classic novel for young adults or older people, perfect for anyone interested in a book that will keep them turning the pages until it's over.

Reviewer's Name: Locke
There's Someone Inside Your House
Perkins, Stephanie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

There's Someone Inside Your House follows Makani Young as she tries to escape her past and create a new life in small-town Nebraska with her grandma and two best friends. She also is developing a crush on town outcast, Ollie. Suddenly, members of her small high school are found viciously murdered, one after another, and her and her friends will have to scramble to find the killer before they become their next victim.
I originally read this book because of the movie coming out under the same name, based on the book. In the trailer, the story seems to follow a serial killer who kills his high school victims while wearing a mask of the victims face, while seemingly holding them accountable for their past digressions. Obviously, this sounds amazing to read, so I read this book. The result was somewhat disappointing. For one, the actual murder mystery at the center of the story is no where near as interesting as the one the film outlines. In fact, despite the pretty good terror the book can get across, its pretty typical. When the murderer is revealed, both them and their motive are pretty disappointing. Other mysteries also turn out to be pretty disappointing, like some of the characters pasts or motives. Furthermore, the murder mystery isn't really the center of the story. More time seems to be devoted to what is meant to be a romantic subplot, but quickly becomes the main plot, leaving the vicious massacres on the side. Now, on the good side, the romantic subplot is pretty good, even if it takes up way too much time. As I said, the murder scenes have a lot of good tension and gore, all told from the victims perspective. The trauma the characters go through is pretty well explored, and the characters themselves are pretty well rounded, well characterized, and pretty funny. And even if the story was basic murder mystery, it was still a fun murder mystery.
All in all, while I found this book pretty disappointing, I do think its a fun ride. This would be a great read for fans of mystery, thrillers, pretty cool gore, and emotional love stories!

Reviewer's Name: Eve
All These Bodies
Blake, Kendare
2 stars = Meh
Review:

All These Bodies follows the country wide mystery of the Bloodless Murders, murders that leave every victim sucked dry without signs of struggle or bloodstains. Michael Jensen, the son of the sheriff who has followed the mystery as a hopeful journalist, one day witnesses the aftermath of the final murder in his hometown: the Carleson's family is found dead, with every ounce of their blood found drenched on one Marie Catherine Hale. As the nations whips itself into a frenzy over a fifteen-year-old murderess, Michael scrambles to, with Marie's help, solve the mystery of the Bloodless Murders, no matter how fantastical the answer may be.
I really wanted to like this book. See, I bought it impulsively about a month ago, hoping for a classic "How evil is the child that has done evil things?" that has been done so well in the past (None Shall Sleep, House on the Cerulean Sea, Good Omens, etc.). I was looking for some fun prose, debates on nature versus nurture, and a good thriller mystery. This book, sadly, did not live up to my expectations. For one, the writing is surprisingly prosaic for Kendare Blake, who's written other books I love. One could see this as an attempt to show that a teenager is telling the story, as the jist is that Michael is writing this story, so it makes sense that the writing is very to the point. However, even if this was intentional, it doesn't change the fact that the writing isn't very fun to read. There are some well written scenes that get across the small town vibe and deep horror of the book, but most of it was very simple. For another thing, I don't really like the way Marie was characterized. She's introduced as this worldly, weary teenager that has seen and committed many horrors. But despite this powerful image, for most of this book Marie seems very powerless and apathetic. This could be seen as accurate regarding her trauma, but it makes her much less of her own character and more a thing for Michael to protect and the world to judge. Finally, while some scenes were very scary, many of them simply described a maybe scary thing and didn't drive home the terror of the moment. Again, this could be accurate since many of these moments weren't necessarily scary out of context, but again, less interesting. The general theme of this book seems to prioritize the realistic over the dramatic, which is to be commended, but does decrease certain people's, including my, general enjoyment. Still, this book had a good ending, solid characterization, some good discussions on the public court, and accurately depicting the suffocating small town aesthetic.
All in all, this book could still be enjoyed in someone likes realistic writing, the 1900s aesthetic, discussions on justice, and nebulous mysteries, and I recommend anyone to read Kendare Blake's other works!

Reviewer's Name: Eve
Mercy book jacket
Baldacci, David
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Mercy is the name of Agent Pine’s long lost sister. When the Pine sisters were very young, someone kidnapped Mercy. It has been 20 years since Mercy went missing, but suddenly her trail becomes hot. Agent Pine is determined to find her sister and find out her captors. I really liked how certain emotions were displayed by the main characters. I disliked the descriptions of the violence. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves reading thrillers and mysteries. Mercy is action packed, suspenseful, and has a feel good ending.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
A Slow Fire Burning book jacket
Hawkins, Paula
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A Slow Fire Burning is a great book which the reader won’t put down. A gruesome murder takes place, and the police swiftly need to find who was responsible. The three main characters all seem guilty and are unwilling to cooperate with the investigation. They personally knew the victim but withhold any information about the murder. Which can only mean one thing. That the murderer is among the three characters! I enjoyed the plot and suspense. A Slow Fire Burning is a thriller that has an unpredictable but a wholesome ending. This was an excellent read and I strongly recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
One of Us is Lying
McManus, Karen M.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

One of Us is Lying is about four high school stereotypes: the Smart Girl, the Jock, the Homecoming Queen, and the Bad Boy. One day, all four of them, plus the Class Gossip, wind up in detention. When the Class Gossip dies, it soon becomes evident that foul play was involved, and that the Class Gossip knew a secret each of them is desperate to hide. As the rumors fly and reporters circle, all four will have to figure out what happened before they become convicted, caught out, or killed.
At this surface, the book has a wildly simple premise. It's almost like a clue game: a group of simplistic characters with a simple defining theme rushing to find a shadowy murderer while they all hold their own secrets. And this is fine for a mystery. If I'm being quite honest, I've read about five hundred different iterations of this plot, with a high school murder and a killer on the loose and the main characters with secrets and suspicions. The song and dance is familiar and comforting, but, excluding the mystery itself, lacking in individuality and flavor. However, this book makes a few key deviations that make the plot feel new and exciting without diverting from the familiar high school murder plot. For one, the characters each have adequate and interesting development, specifically tailored to bring them out of the labels the book put them in itself. And the development isn't token, like a pretty girl learning to love the joys of football or the jock getting into baking or the usual clichés. The development is relevant to the modern era, like the crushing need for perfectionism in the college application process, or the way mental health struggles can wreck a family, or the superficial weight our society assigns to looks. In a lot of ways, its not the characters learning to overcome their stereotype, since each of them feels they don't live up to their's perfectly. It's about how society at large forced them into that stereotype. It's actually really impressive that the author managed to pull of five substantial character arcs! On that note, the book creates a far more realistic high school environment than most YA books. There's no really token "popular group" that is played up too much and taken too seriously. School is a genuine issue, and there are struggles with maintaining grades. There are more named characters than the main cast, and you get a sense other people have an actual life outside the central plot. Also, the book is just paced really well, letting you see the lives of each character while moving the plot along at a steady and fascinating pace. It can be funny or heartbreaking at times, and the mystery itself is satisfying and interesting upon reread.
All in all, this was in no way a groundbreaking novel. The plot is predictable mystery, with the usual twists and turns and not much beyond it. However, the deviations this book makes to the usual mystery formula make it a worthwhile and fun ride!

Reviewer's Name: Eve
The Silent Patient book jacket
Michaelides, Alex
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Silent Patient follows Theo Faber, a psychologist who has become obsessed with the case of Alicia Berenson, the painter happily married to a famous photographer who one day shot her husband in the face and then never spoke again. When Theo gets the chance to work with Alicia at her facilities, and to maybe learn the truth of her motivations, he jumps at it. From there, the book splits between Alicia's journal as her life speeds towards the tragedy and Theo's experiences working backwards towards it, colliding in a knot of intrigue and tragedy, forever blurring the line between villain and victim.
This book is one of the few adult, realistic fiction books I've been able to get through without tossing to the side after the first chapter. For whatever reason, I find adult realism to be dour and unnecessarily dark, like the authors used their genre as an excuse to be overtly cynical and call it depth of writing. This book has some of the same issues: all relationships started happily and ended horribly, everyone main character is a monster in some way, the ending is ambiguous and dark, etc. This book can be set apart, however, by its plot. The opening mystery is extremely intriguing, and wonderfully set up to make the audience deeply curious. Lots of prose is devoted to the mystery, like some great allusions to classical Greek theatre, which increases the mystique. Basically, the prose and the mystery give the novel that fun suspense many adult realistic fiction novels lack. Another way the plot shines is the plot twist. One reason its difficult to rate this novel is the fact that, while most of it is pretty good or mediocre, the plot twist at the end, and the subsequent conclusion, elevate the novel to another level. Beyond this, the character work is also moving, giving every character relatable motivations, and fleshing each out enough that seemingly insane actions make total sense.
All in all, while the writing wasn't fantastic, the stellar plot structure, plot twists, prose, and characters make this a good book. I would recommend this to anyone looking for intriguing mysteries, a gripping story, and way too many metaphors!

Reviewer's Name: Eve