I’ve been obsessed with YA mystery/thrillers for a while… there’s something about the minimalist yet suspenseful writing style, plentiful plot twists, and shock endings. They’re just so readable, and I can’t get enough!
Without further ado, here are 7 great YA mysteries you should consider picking up!
YA Mystery Book Recommendations
I’ll be linking my full (and usually more eloquent) book reviews next to each book that I have specifically reviewed on my blog.
1) With Malice by Eileen Cook- 3/5 stars
This book could have been a 4-star if it weren’t for the ending… but I’m including it anyway because it had quite the intriguing plot.
The story follows our MC, Jill Charron, who finds herself in the hospital after the car crash that killed her best friend Simone during a school trip to Italy. And according to the authorities, it may not have been an accident at all. Jill knows she could never have hurt Simone… but she can’t remember anything about the trip or the crash. It’s up to Jill to find out what really happened that day– before it’s too late. Spoiler-free review here
2) All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban- 3/5 stars
Six students attend a prestigious scholarship dinner… only to discover it was all a ruse. They’re trapped in a locked, cell-service-less room with a ticking time bomb, a syringe of poison, and a note informing them that unless they pick someone to kill within the hour, it’s game over.
This book was very gripping and I’m pretty sure I read it in one sitting, but I was put off by the uber-YA-ness. Much of the plot required immense suspension of disbelief, too. Nevertheless, it was an entertaining and creative read that I would definitely recommend if you’re into suspense. Spoiler-free review here
3) One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus- 4/5 stars
Bronwyn– the student council, Yale-bound nerd, Addy – the homecoming court, shallow popular girl, Cooper– the baseball star jock headed for the minor leagues, Nate– the drug-dealing delinquent, and Simon– the outcast who runs the school’s notorious gossip app. Five students enter detention one afternoon. Only four leave with their lives. Someone poisoned Simon, and no one could have done it except for the four kids in the room with him. Everyone is a suspect, and someone has a great poker face.
I didn’t adore this book like so many other people because, well, I predicted the ending rather early-on. I also, again, wasn’t a fan of all the uber-YA fluff: boyfriends, high school drama, unnecessary romantic subplots (noooo)…. But don’t get me wrong, this is a great mystery. Check out my spoiler-free review!
4) Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus- 4/5 stars
This seems to be a very unpopular opinion, but… I prefer Karen McManus’ Two Can Keep a Secret to One of Us is Lying. I actually did NOT guess the murderer in this one, whereas I’d predicted the ending of One of Us is Lying by the time I hit the halfway point. Two Can Keep a Secret also has less stereotypical YA drama and more mystery.
The plot: our MC, Ellery, has just moved to the small, picturesque town of Echo Ridge with her twin brother. They’d prefer to stay under the radar, but it’s hard to hide in such a small town. Especially when you’re so connected to its dark past. 30 years ago, Ellery’s aunt disappeared on the night of homecoming. 5 years ago, another girl met the same fate. And this year, it looks like history is going to repeat itself.
5) Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson- 4/5 stars
My biggest gripe about Truly Devious is that… well, the mystery is dragged out over 3 books, and the first one ends with quite the unsatisfying cliffhanger. On the plus side, though, this format gave Johnson more room for plot substance, and consequently the characters in this series have time to develop more than characters in most YA mysteries.
Set in an atmospheric Vermont boarding school founded by the eccentric billionaire (minor trope alert!) Albert Ellingham, the plot revolves around the intersection between two mysteries: the first being the unsolved 1936 kidnapping of Ellingham’s family, and the second being the suspicious death of a student decades later. Our protagonist, true crime aficionado Stevie Bell, is determined to solve both mysteries– but she may be in for more than she bargained for.
6) When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead – 5/5 stars
When You Reach Me is kind of an outlier on this list since it’s really MG and not YA, and I read it six years ago, but I just remembered its existence today and just had to mention it.
It’s about girl named Miranda who has been receiving strange messages from someone who seems to know everything about her and who seems to be able to predict the future. At first she ignores them, but with every note she comes closer to realizing that someone she loves is in danger. The plot of this book is just… incredible.
7) A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson – 5/5 stars
I loved this book so much when I first read it.
It follows a girl named Pip who decides to research the notorious unsolved murder that happened 5 years ago in her hometown. What starts out as an unassuming research project becomes much more dangerous when Pip begins to unveil sinister secrets about everyone involved in the previously-closed case. No one can be trusted… and someone wants Pip off their trail. For a better sense of the book, you can read my spoiler-free review here.
That’s all for today’s post! Thanks for reading! Have you read any of these books?