YA fans, get ready to be on the edge of your seat for the rest of the year, because we’ve got some great YA thrillers you’ll want to add to your TBR immediately. From historical murder mysteries to contemporary whodunnits to apocalyptic thrillers and everything in between, these teen reads will keep you flipping the pages through every twist and turn.
Stateless is a thrilling historical murder mystery set in Europe in the 1930s. Stella North is the only female pilot participating in Europe’s first air race for young people. As the representative for Britain, Stella knows the stakes are high, especially when the Nazis are gaining power across the continent and a civil war is devastating Spain. Yes, this is meant to be a friendly sporting event, but in a time when the world is looking for hope and inspiration, Stella knows she can do so much more. But every pilot there as their own secrets. And everyone there may be capable of murder. Even Stella herself.
James Patterson and Mindy McGinnis’ YA post-apocalyptic thriller Hawk: City of the Dead follows Hawk, the daughter of Maximum Ride. Hawk and her mother Maximum Ride are never the ones to back down from a conflict, and in the City of the Dead, the two are faced with plenty of conflicts. As the dead start to outnumber the living, Hawk and her mother team up to fight back. This action-packed thriller starts at a breakneck pace and never relents, and you’ll love every minute of it.
Kelly McWilliams’ Agnes at the End of the World is The Handmaid’s Tale meets Hunger Games. Agnes loves her beautiful, quiet home of Red Creek. What she doesn’t know is that Red Creek is a cult, run by a man who calls himself a prophet. It isn’t until Agnes meets an Outsider boy named Danny that she begins to question everything she’s known and everything she once thought was a sin. And as the prophet grows more and more dangerous, Agnes realizes she must find a way out. But is the outside world any safer than the cult that raised her?
Wolf by Wolf is an action-packed historical thriller set in a version of 1956 where the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To celebrate their Great Victory, every year Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour. The tour is a motorcycle race across the conjoined continents in which the winner receives an audience with Hitler himself at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo. Yael is a former death camp prisoner with one goal: win the race, meet Hitler, and kill him. But as Yael gets to know her competitors and develops friendships, will she have what it takes to completing her mission and avoiding detection?
Deadly Little Scandals is the second novel in Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ YA thriller series Debutantes. Sawyer Taft isn’t really interested in the life of a debutante, but she joined Southern high society with one goal in mind: to find her biological father. But the answers Sawyer found during her debutante year only left her with more questions. Now Sawyer’s cousin Lily has convinced her to pledge a mysterious, elite, and all-female secret society called the White Gloves. Could this new secret society have the answers Sawyer has been looking for all these years?
In Time Will Tell by Barry Lyga, four teens dig up a time capsule buried by their parents back in 1986. The capsule is filled with mixed tapes, photographs, letters, toys… and a knife stained with blood, wrapped in a note that reads, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to kill anyone.” As Elayah, Liam, Marcie, and Jorja work together to unravel the mysteries of their parents’ youths, the sins of the past begin to inform their present day lives. Because someone didn’t want that box to be unburied. And that someone will stop at nothing to make sure their secrets don’t get out.
Wendy Heard’s We’ll Never Tell is an unputdownable whodunnit coming this May. We’ll Never Tell is a viral YouTube channel run by four students at Hollywood High. In each episode, Casey, Jacob, Zoe, and Eddie reveal behind-the-scenes secrets about some of Los Angeles’ most intriguing locales. And now that it’s their senior year, the group wants to go out with a bang. Their final episode will be filmed at the infamous Valentini “murder house,” which has been left abandoned since the shocking murder/suicide incident that happened there in 1972. But after the crew gets their footage, only three make it out alive. Who killed their friend? Is it connected to the murder that happened there years ago, or is one of their own responsible?
Only She Came Back is the perfect YA thriller for fans of true crime, and it’s out this November! When “survival guru” Callum Massey goes missing, the world—and his hundreds of thousands of YouTube followers—are shocked. True crime fanatic Sam becomes completely obsessed with the case, especially after she finds out the prime suspect is Kiri Dunmore, Callum’s girlfriend and Sam’s old classmate from high school. Even though they were never close, Sam is desperate to know more about the case and so she reaches out to Kiri. When Kiri starts confiding in her, Sam realizes there’s more to this mysterious disappearance than she ever could have imagined.
Emily Martin has a PhD in English from the University of Southern Mississippi. She’s a contributing editor at Book Riot and blogs/podcasts at Book Squad Goals.