Book Fox: 5 YA Thrillers I Can't Wait to Read

My golden rule is to read what I want to read. And I certainly do have a favourite genre, and that is the trusty thriller. As I near my thirties, I typically find myself reaching for the Gone Girls and The Girl on the Trains and other chart-topping adult thrillers. But earlier this year I had the pleasure of presenting the Scottish Teenage Book Prize to Claire McFall for her YA novel Black Cairn Point, a supernatural thriller about a group of teenagers who go on a camping trip in the Scottish Highlands with devastating consequences. If you haven’t read Black Cairn Point, then I strongly urge you do so, because I thoroughly enjoyed the book and it opened my eyes to the world of the YA thriller.

Here are five upcoming YA thrillers whose blurbs have the hairs on the back of my neck well and truly prickled!

Cover of I Have No Secrets
I Have No Secrets
by Penny Joelson (out now)       

Jemma knows who did the murder. She knows because he told her. And she can't tell anyone.

Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone. But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change...

A page-turning thriller seen through the eyes of a unique narrator, this is a truly original, heart-rending and compulsive book for young adult readers.

Why I’m excited: This sounds like a truly unique premise. I, for one, am a big fan of storylines that focus on protagonists who don’t know what is going on and their quest to uncover the truth - in fact, I would go so far as to say this is the backbone to many successful thrillers (think Before I Go to Sleep and The Girl on the Train). But here we have a main character who knows the truth but is unable to do anything about it. I don’t know about you, but I want to know what happens...

Cover of One of us is lying
One Of Us Is Lying
by Karen M. McManus (released 30 May)

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars, One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High's notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn't an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he'd planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who's still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Why I’m excited: Funnily enough, I’m not a fan of either The Breakfast Club or Pretty Little Liars so you would expect a book which claims to be a mash-up of the two would put me off. Quite the opposite! The premise of One Of Us Is Lying sounds like something Agatha Christie would have written if she were alive today (and writing YA!). I love traditional whodunnits as I get to play detective and I’m keen to see if I can figure it out before the end.

Cover of this careless life
This Careless Life
by Rachel McIntyre (released 1 June)

Four best friends with perfect lives. A once in a lifetime opportunity. Who can resist the call of fame and fortune?

Liv, Hetty, Jez and Duffy are auditioning for a new reality TV show. Producer Cassandra has warned them the process might be tough, but they are excited and keen to get on with things, confident that they can handle anything.

But when Cass produces a photo of a body, everyone realises that they may have something to hide after all…

Why I’m excited: I remember the early days of “Big Brother,” when it was a new and interesting idea that simply watching people could be considered entertainment. Of course, TV is now saturated with reality TV shows and the novelty of it was lost a long time ago. That being said, I love stories about reality TV, such as the 2002 horror film My Little Eye or even Charlie Brooker’s Dead Set. Add to that, the blurb for This Careless Life feels unnaturally short... as if it’s hiding something. And I want to know why the producer has a photo of a body!           

cover of thornhill
by Pam Smy (released 24 August)

Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as Ella unravels the mystery of the girl next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it's shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she's left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2016: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill's shadowy past.

Why I’m excited: Of all the books on this list, this one sounds the least thriller-y and perhaps should be on a list of horrors or mysteries. Either way, I am a sucker for dual-timelines, stories about orphanages (especially ones with “shadowy pasts”) and revenge. It’s as simple as that!

cover of genuine fraud
Fraud by E. Lockhart (released 7 September)

From the author of the unforgettable New York Times bestseller We Were Liars comes a masterful new psychological suspense novel - the story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.

Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.

An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.

A bad romance, or maybe three.

Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.

A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.

A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

Why I’m excited: First things first, E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars was arguably the first YA book I read that I actually enjoyed and therefore the first time that I felt I’d been incredibly harsh all those times I decried that “I don’t like YA”. It was brilliant and I loved it. That’s the main reason why this book is on this list - because I have that feeling. You know the one! Add to that, it’s a book about identity and that’s something I have recently discovered to be a sure-fire winner for me. 

So there you have it! Those are my top five upcoming YA thrillers that I’m simply itching to read. Am I missing anything?

You can find more recommendations by Claire on her YouTube channel, The Book Fox. Check out our themed book lists for all ages too!

Claire recently presented our video to announce the winner of the Scottish Teenage Book Prize - check out the video to find out which book Scotland's teenagers voted their favourite of the past year!

Top image by Glen Noble on Stocksnap.

Claire Forrester

Claire Forrester is a prolific book vlogger, releasing new videos almost every week on her YouTube channel, The Book Fox. You can find and follow her on Goodreads and Instagram too!