Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Thrillers/Suspense

IT

IT

King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Review: This book is incredible. One of the scariest novels I have ever had the pleasure of reading is also one of the longest. In this book you follow the journey of seven characters - all brilliantly well rounded and fleshed out, if I may add. You alternate between their experiences during childhood and adulthood of facing and fighting the demonic and supernatural clown, Pennywise. I recommend this book to fans of horror and Stephen King, or anyone who enjoys a long read of a good book.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Truly Devious
Johnson, Maureen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Stevie Bell loves all things crime, true or otherwise. She loves to dive into the fictional encounters of the likes of Hercule Poroit and Sherlock Holmes almost as much as she loves to solve cold cases. So when she gets the opportunity to study at Ellingham Academy, site of one of the most famous unsolved murder/kidnapping cases of all time, she jumps at the chance. She doesn't get too far into her murder investigation, however, when a fellow student is found dead in the same tunnel as a murdered girl from before.

For the most part, this is just a straight-up mystery with a quirky setting and side characters, but it really works. The book goes back and forth from the events of the 1939 Ellingham murders to present day, and I found myself equally interested in both stories. Our main character, Stevie, is extremely likable, and gives us some smart, biting commentary about her life and her classmates along with a lot of interesting tidbits about past crimes and mystery authors. Stevie's classmates all have distinct personalities and are quite the diverse cast of characters. Students at Ellingham are selected for having some sort of ability or interest, and her roommates are an artist, an inventor, a coder, a writer and a YouTube star which makes for some fun interactions and conversation in the group. There's a bit of a meh romance, but it didn't detract from the rest of the book and it will be interesting to see where that heads in the sequel.

The main appeal here is the dual mysteries. Both were a lot of fun to read, and I was dead wrong about the identity of the present day killer which is always fun. Really, the only downside for me was the ending. It ends on a massive cliffhanger, and I actually wish a few things were a bit more tied up. I found it to be jarring and a bit off-putting. That said, I'll probably check out the sequel.

If you are looking for a really solid mystery featuring clever and engaging characters, then this is for you! You can put Truly Devious on hold now - thanks to Edelweiss and HarperCollins for the electronic review copy. If it weren't for that ending it'd be a 4 star read for me, but...3 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Book Review: Night Sky
Brockmann, Suzanne; Brockmann, Melanie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Night Sky" is a joint effort Between mother and daughter Suzanne and Melanie Brockman. Despite the fact that two different minds worked on this title, It is smooth polished and a well unified work of fiction. This is a fantastic young adult novel that I would recommend well before Titans of the genera such as "Divergent".Within its pages we follow a girl by the name of Skylar who develops from a pent up and unconfident teen with an over bearing mother to a strong young woman with the courage to stand up not only to her mother but also to the shadow organization that orchestrates horrible events the world over that no one will dare defy. Like most young adult novels it has a romantic sub plot that you can see coming from one hundred miles away while facing the other directions with your eyes closed. Thankfully however, this fact does little if anything to detract from the quality of this book. The characters feel real and alive, each with their own personalities. The descriptive language is detailed enough that the world easily paints its self in the readers mind. With elements of horror, mystery, action, fantasy, and romance this is a well rounded first effort from the duo that I recommend wholeheartedly.

Reviewer's Name: Jaydon K.
Hearts in Atlantis
King, Stephen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

When I started Hearts in Atlantis, all I knew about it was that it was written by Stephen King and there was a movie of the same name that was likely based on it. As I began to read, I found myself enthralled by the coming-of-age story that presented itself. I had no idea it connected to the Dark Tower series, but that detail was almost ancillary, a neat little connection into a bigger picture. Having made it half-way through the book, I wanted to follow the main character’s development into adulthood but, then the story suddenly stopped.

Instead of following a story that had engaged me, the focus shifted to a completely different character, only loosely tied to the events in the first half of the book via one of the characters, who was now in college. Almost in a fractal fashion, this story was half as long as the first, with each successive story growing shorter and shorter, while still being connected to the first narrative in some way, no matter how loose that connection might have been. Finally, the story returns to the main character of the first section, but only stays long enough to say goodbye.

I absolutely loved the first story in this “collection,” and by its strength alone, I would recommend this to anyone. However, the second half of the book felt too disjointed to be interesting, especially with all the emotional energy I had invested in the first story. Sure, they were somewhat interesting in their own ways, showing the relentless march of time toward the modern era, but they simply lacked that fantastical little spark from the first story (incidentally, the same spark that was connected to the Dark Tower series).

A great story with almost unnecessary add-ons, I give Hearts in Atlantis 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Awards:
I Hunt Killers
Lyga, Barry
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Jasper "Jazz" Dent is the son of the world's most notorious serial killer. After his father was captured, Jazz has just been trying to live like a usual 17 year old. But when a new killer appears who seems to be trying to mimic his father, Jazz knows that it's only a matter of time before people start to believe he's the new killer. So he decides to join the police in tracking down the murderer, not only to convince the town he isn't like his father, but himself. I Hunt Killers has a good mystery, with plenty of twists, and is difficult to predict. However, it isn't the mystery that makes the story addicting; it's Jazz. While some of the minor characters suffer from a lack of proper development, Jazz's interesting (and disturbed) mind makes this book difficult to put down. He is a morally gray character, incredibly messed up, but sympathetic. His fears of being a sociopath are not without reason. In the hands of a different writer, his struggles could be seen as heavy handed or melodramatic. But here, he is written as completely believable. The mystery is a good one, but it's the protagonist (the likes of which you rarely see in a young adult story) that makes this book really good.

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

One of Us is Lying is like The Breakfast Club, as it it involves a bunch of "teen movie stereotypes", during an interesting detention. These include Bronwyn, the "brain", Nate, the "criminal", Addy, the "beauty", Cooper, the "athlete", and Simon, the "outcast". However, the similarities end there, as one of them, Simon, dies from a suspicious allergy attack during the detention. Simon was the creator of the gossip app known as "About That," which shared other students' secrets and gossip. He had been planning to post about the other four before his death, making them all suspects in his murder. Or is it all a frameup? The reader has to decide whether one of the incredibly likable four leads is a lying murderer, or if they're all victims.

This book was very addictive. McManus' writing was detailed, and she was able to distinguish the four's voices as their own. No one sounded or felt the same, and each of their narratives were equally enthralling. Each lead character is a deconstruction of the stereotype they're based off of, and in a way, this is a deconstruction of the mystery genre in general; unlike most, it's more character driven than plot driven.

My main complaint is that some of these students seem overly capable in a way. Not just the four, but the supporting character's talents are beyond most high schoolers. It may have made more sense if the setting was in college. However, this is something I see a lot of in YA fiction today, so it doesn't overly bother me, and it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book.

I recommend this if you like mysteries and character driven stories where every character, both leading and supporting, are developed, fleshed out characters.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Kate D.
NERVE
Ryan, Jeanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Nerve is about a coward named Vee who decides to try this game online called NERVE. In this mysterious game, you can either be a player or a watcher.

Watchers must pay money to watch, and players get paid to do dares. Vee thinks this is a stupid idea, but then begins to wonder if it actually a fun thing to do. She decides to try it out. One challenge leads to another, and the dares begin to become deadly. Should Vee risk her life for a good prize, or will she lose NERVE?

This is a great book for anyone obsessed with online games, or thrills in general. I definitely recommend this book for any thrill seekers.

Reviewer's Name: Kristin V.
Book Review: One Mile Under
Gross, Andrew
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Review: The book, One Mile Under, is about a girl, who is a white water rafting guide living in Aspen, Colorado, who finds a body on one of her rafting trips. Throughout the book the girl, with some help from a few friends, tries to prove that the death of the man was no river accident while also trying to avoid being murdered herself. I chose this book because I though the title seemed interesting, and I had read some of the author's other books and liked them. The thing I liked most about this book is that it is a murder mystery, and it is very suspenseful throughout most of the book.
However, the book seemed to drag on a lot towards the end, and most of the answers to the mystery are revealed about two-thirds through the book which makes the book feel long. This book was surprising in the beginning, but by the end everything seemed pretty predictable. Overall, it was a really good book, and I would suggest reading it if you like suspenseful murder mysteries.

Reviewer's Name: Leah G.
Agent of Chaos
Garcia, Kami
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

When Fox Mulder was just a kid, his little sister was kidnapped while he was babysitting her. That event has haunted him and his family ever since. So, when children start to go missing and then turn up dead from what appears to be a ritualistic serial killer, Mulder knows that he has to do something.

While I like the X-files, I'm certainly not the world's greatest fan - I've probably seen around 1/2 of the episodes, and I haven't watched the reboot. However, this book jumped out at me as I was perusing the stacks, and I'm glad it did. In fact, if you are just a fan of mysteries and/or the paranormal, this book will totally meet your needs. You can go into this without knowing anything about Mulder and the TV show, and you'll still have a great reading experience. If you are an avid fan of the show, there are several "easter eggs", cameos and cute references throughout the book (the smoking man shows up in the first chapter!). Also, it's got some entertaining historical fiction elements as the book is set in 1979, and that is very much reflected in the music and technology.

Garcia does a great job with the character development. Mulder quickly teams up with two other "genuis" types, and this book could've quickly devolved into some variation of "three teen geniuses solve a crime caper" a la a number of middle grade/YA books out there, but Garcia fleshed the characters out to the point that this pitfall was, for the most part, avoided. Mulder is, understandably, obsessed with finding his sister, and his parents are separated. His best friend, Gimble (a D&D name), has a father who is so enmeshed into conspiracy theories that he's been fired from the Air Force (he may or may not be an influence to young Mulder). His other best friend, also a love interest, was not as well developed, she was easily the weakest character, and I could've done without her and the romance. The story itself was a well done serial killer mystery, though the end felt a little abrupt with a ton of loose strings. The mystery is only mostly resolved, so I'm assuming there will be a sequel.

Anyone looking for a decent mystery with good characters, look no further. The X-files stuff is just icing on what is an already pretty tasty cake. I wanted to believe (I couldn't help myself), and this book didn't let me down. 3.5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls
Weingarten, Lynn
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarton, June, a high school junior, investigates the mysterious "suicide" of her ex-best friend, Delia.
Throughout the book she discovers new mysteries and experiences betrayal and numbness. Her character develops quickly to adapt to what events occur. I liked how the book connects with June's feelings about the events, and describes them in detail, like any good book should. I did not like how the author only included two point of views, I would like to read what the other characters thought about and how they reacted in their thoughts. I pick this book because I wanted a mystery novel and the title as well as the cover piqued my interest immediately. Suicide note from beautiful girls had surprising moments, that made me think 'wow, I can't believe that just happened' but it had moments where I could predict what was going to happen.
I could semi relate to June, she as well as I have lost a best friend. I would say this isn't the best book I've read this year, but it is up there with a good story plot.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gemini K.
We Were Liars
Lockhart, E.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When I found this book, the title instantly spoke to me. I couldn't stop reading it from the first paragraph. It's powerful and quirky at the same time. There was never a sentence where I got distracted by the outside world, because the words drew me in, every second. I love this book.

Reviewer's Name: Zoe
Traitor
Pausewang, Gudrun
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

For my review I read the book Traitor by Gunrun Pausewang. Traitor was set in Nazi Germany and is in the perspective of a young girl who hides a Russian who at the time was an enemy of Germany. In the beginning this book was not my favorite, but it grew on me so I kept reading. The one thing I did not like about this book was the ending because it was really sad. I also liked the ending because it was new and most books have happy endings, but it was still really sad and I wish the book had not ended that way.
Reviewer Grade:8

Reviewer's Name: Paige C.
Awards:
The Archangel Project
Graham, C.S.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

An exhilarating novel that puts you directly into the shoes of young October Guinness in a race against time and a fight against the government. When a man named Lance Palmer comes to October in her small New Orleans abode, she expects he's a good guy with his claim of being with the FBI, but she couldn't be more wrong. With motivation and determination, Lance Palmer and his crew will do anything to get rid of October because of her unique talent that could potentially leak extremely confidential information regarding the well being of the globe. Will she be able to ever live a normal life again? Will she ever outrun her past? With the help of ex-special ops and CIA agent, Jax Alexander, she just might. With gripping current events and a sense of constant danger, this book is extremely eye-opening and thrilling.
Reviewers Grade: 12

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

The name Agatha Christie is synonymous with unique and puzzling mysteries, but And Then There Were None is definitely one of her best. The plot is simple enough: ten people are invited to an island, stranded there, and then accused of a murder. And then one by one each person begins to die just like the people in the old nursery rhyme “Ten Little Soldier Boys.” However, the reader is kept in the dark as to who the murderer is until the very end, and the end is not at all what the reader might have expected. The plot moves along fairly quickly, but it doesn’t get confusing. The characters are fully sketched out which helps to make the story somewhat believable. The best thing about this book is that it is not at all cheesy; it is gripping and just frightening enough to make the reader want to finish the book before they turn out the lights at night.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Grace O.
Werlin, Nancy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Double helix is packed with science, ethics, psychology and relationships. Eli Samuels, 18, can’t get close--not to his caring but preoccupied dad; not to his smart, long-time girlfriend, Viv; and certainly not to his mother, who has been institutionalized for years with a devastating degenerative disease.
Instead of going to college after he graduates high school, Eli decides to apply for a job at the Wyatt Transgenics Lab, a well-known lab for genetic-engineering experiments. Eli’s father is furious when he finds Eli has been hired and demands that Eli reject the job offer, but he won’t say why. Silence is how Eli’s family deals with the unpleasant.
Eli’s long-time girlfriend Viv has never met Eli’s father and has certainly never met Eli’s mother. To do so, Eli would have to reveal that his mother has been institutionalized for years with a devastating degenerative disease. Eli has talents and abilities that he hides from Viv, but somehow his new boss, Dr. Wyatt knows about them from the very beginning. What can make Dr. Wyatt be so fascinated with Eli? And why is Eli’s father so irate? Enter the twists of the Double Helix.

Reviewer's Name: Renee
Double Vision
Bradley, F. T.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The story; Double Vision is a great book that I recommend to readers who like suspense. Double Vision starts out in the main character; Lincoln’s school. He and his classmates are to go on a trip to a chicken farm not far from the school. After getting to the chicken farm, the farmer was very strict, and didn’t let anybody near his chickens. Instead, he just talked about them, and told everyone all about chicken farming, chicken housing, chicken food, etc. Soon, Lincoln got bored and decided to go see the chickens for himself. After sneaking away from the group, Lincoln opened the door to the chicken coop and was flustered by chickens in front of all of the other kids. After Lincoln went home, he found out that he was expelled from his school, and the farmer is suing them for a great amount of money. Because they knew he was in lots of trouble, two agents came to knock on their door. After, they told them that they would take Lincoln and straighten him up. At first, his mother refused, but decided to give in. After Lincoln got in their car, they said they weren’t taking him to a boot camp… but a spy camp! The part I enjoyed in this book was when Lincoln got attacked by chickens! I recommend this book to any age that loves suspense and action!

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Logan L.
The Alienist
Carr, Caleb
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is amazing. It spent weeks on the bestseller lists the year it was published, and is currently being turned into a television series. It takes place in 1896 and concerns fictional psychologist (or “alienist”) Dr. Laszlo Kreizler who works with his best friend John Moore, a crime reporter, to solve a series of brutal and perverted murders of New York City child prostitutes. They are joined by several other unconventional and intrepid characters who help them investigate the murders, eventually leading to an edge-of-your-seat climactic showdown worthy of any blockbuster thriller.
Our narrator, John Moore, is well-drawn and extremely likeable, providing insight into the personalities of more-difficult-to-access characters such as Laszlo as well as entertaining the reader with sarcastic asides and private commentary. His interactions with Laszlo are especially enjoyable – the two are polar opposites, yet have an enduring friendship that allows them to work together like Holmes and Watson. Dr. Laszlo Kreizler himself is dark, brooding, and intelligent, but moves beyond a stereotype and gains the reader’s sympathy, especially as his intriguing past – and relationships -- come to light. The other members of the team are generally likable as well, if rather underdeveloped. Their racial and religious political correctness seems somewhat manufactured considering the time period, but the strength of the plot and their own likability allows the reader to accept it as signs of the characters’ progressive viewpoints and accepting natures. Also, Theodore Roosevelt and other actual historical figures make cameos – it’s like a treat for history buffs.
Speaking of history, a main factor in the story is the concept of “psychological determinism,” a psychological theory that was new at the time but is now largely accepted, as well as forensic science, which was also mostly untested in 1896. The heroes in this story aren’t your typical Victorian detectives, using Holmesian deduction and raw logic to trace the killer. These investigators use psychology and forensics to catch a murderer who leaves no hard clues, making this mystery uncommonly scientific and engrossing. Additionally, the abundance of subplots -- romantic, criminal, historical, etc. -- create an atmospheric and fleshed-out world that serves its reader well.
I urge fans of psychological thrillers as well as traditional mysteries to read this book. However (as you may have guessed), the subject matter is dark, and there is more than one gory and detailed description of a dismembered body. Additionally, the nature of the investigation leads the investigators into some very unsavory locales. The imagery alone requires that I recommend this book for mature readers, probably ages 15 and up. If you don’t have a strong stomach, you may want to skip a few scenes. Otherwise, this is one mystery you won’t want to miss.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Caroline K.
Awards:
Vicious
Schwab, Victoria
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Actual Rating: 4.5

If you love anti-hero, this book is for you. Vicious follows the stories of Victor and Eli, a pair of brilliant, arrogant yet lonely college roommates who share ambition and interest in EO, ExtraOrdinary human being with unnatural superbeing abilities. Vicious blurred the line between heroism and villainy, a moral gray area we often find ourselves standing in. From roommates to enemies, Victor and Eli engaged in a game of cat and mouse that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the book. It was a very thrilling and exciting read and I can't wait for the next book in the series.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Vy D.
Awards:
Fakie
Varrato, Tony
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Actual Rating: 4.5

Have you ever wanted to know what it's like to be running from people who want to kill you? If you have this book is for you. Fakie tells a story of a boy whose father is murdered and he is next. I liked this book because it is suspenseful and makes me feel as if I am right in the action. I picked this book because the author is one of my favorites of all time. I enjoyed that there were many twists and turns and I could never predict what was coming next. I did not enjoy that there was not very much of an explanation of characters. I cannot relate to the characters because I have never had such crazy events happen to me. This is very close to being my favorite book I have read this year!

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Alex L.
Awards:
Angels and Demons
Brown, Dan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A brilliant page turner for readers who love fast paced storyline and drama. Angels and Demons is an amazing thriller by Dan Brown, the same writer who wrote Da Vinci Code. The book has the same protagonist, Robert Langdon who is an iconology professor and is set in in the cobbled street of Europe and the Vatican City. Having read both the books and several others by Dan Brown, I can say that the story grips the attention of the reader very quickly, however since both of the books have similar characters and settings, it can be confusing to differentiate between the storylines after some time.

The story is set in CERN (One of the biggest physics centers of the world) in Geneva, Switzerland where a physicist working on antimatter is killed with the words Illuminati branded on his chest. Antimatter in real life is the most expensive substance and it costs 62.5 trillion dollars to make one gram of it and it must be preserved in cases where it cannot touch any matter or the process of annihilation would create an explosion higher in strength than any atomic bomb. Robert Langdon an iconology professor who is also well known for his studies on illuminati is called on a mission to find the murderer. He is accompanied by the physicist's daughter with whom he eventually falls in love. An antimatter bomb with the antimatter stolen from the lab of the physicist is found in Vatican building where the cardinals from all around the world are gathering for the papal elections in the enclave however the four proffered cardinals or the preffereti have been kidnapped. Robert and his companion go through the streets of Vatican and Rome to stop the killer from murdering the preffereti. The antimatter bomb has a timer which would set off the bomb which gives additional suspense to the story.

The story is sometimes a bit loose and has too many details, problems take longer to solve as compared to Da Vinci Code. It is a description of one day in over 600 pages of gripping storyline where each chapter leaves you hanging by a thread and you just can't put this book down. Overall, it's highly recommended to anyone who loves a great thriller. Good Tip: Listen to some never before listened and suspenseful music while reading this and the action though the streets of Rome would flashback whenever you listen to the song again.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Krona E.

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