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Thrillers

Thrillers come in all forms, but whatever the genre, you can’t stop reading. Each exciting chapter leads you to the next. If you like suspense, surprises and cliff-hangers, try some of these different genres of thrillers.

Adventure | Historical Fiction | Dystopian | Paranormal | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
Crime Thrillers | Psychological Thrillers

 

Adventure

Dead Cat Bounce / Nic Bennett
When his banker father is blamed for the world's greatest financial crisis, sixteen-year-old Jonah, a financial prodigy, races to uncover the truth and save the world.

The Devil's Breath / David Gilman
When fifteen-year-old Max Gordon's environmentalist-adventurer father goes missing while working in Namibia and Max becomes the target of a would-be assassin at his school in England, he decides he must follow his father to Africa and find him before they both are killed. First in the Danger zone series.

Peak / Roland Smith   
A fourteen-year-old boy attempts to be the youngest person to reach the top of Mount Everest.  (SLJ gr 6+)

Stormbreaker / Anthony Horowitz 
After the death of the uncle who had been his guardian, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider is coerced to continue his uncle's dangerous work for Britain's intelligence agency, MI6.  (SLJ gr 5-9)

STORM: The Infinity Code / E. L. Young 
In London, the teenaged geniuses of STORM, a secret organization dedicated to eliminating the world's misery through science and technology, uncover plans for a deadly weapon and race to find and dismantle it, then confront the corrupt scientist behind the scheme.  (SLJ gr 7-10)

Tomorrow When the War Began / John Marsden 
Seven Australian teenagers return from a camping trip in the bush to discover that their country has been invaded and they must hide to stay alive.  (SLJ gr 8+)

 
Historical Thrillers

Code Name Verity / Elizabeth Wein 
In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can.

Forge / Laurie Halse Anderson
Separated from his friend Isabel after their daring escape from slavery, fifteen-year-old Curzon serves as a free man in the Continental Army at Valley Forge until he and Isabel are thrown together again, as slaves once more. (SLJ gr 6-10)

Ripper / Stephan Petrucha
You’ll be engaged right away as this book opens with a Jack the Ripper style murder. The question is, this is New York and Jack the Ripper worked in London. Carver, one of the orphans losing shelter when Miss Petty’s orphanage closes, wants to be a detective and he wants to know his father’s identity, especially when he begins to suspect that he may be the son of Jack the Ripper.

The Diviners / Libba Bray 
Having caused a scandal in her Ohio hometown, Evie is sent to New York City, to live with her uncle, the owner of a museum of the occult. Anxious to be a flapper and girl about town, she possessing a strange power that allows her to know something about a person just by holding something they own. Evie gets involved in a series of bizarre murders closely connected to a religious cult and part of a looming apocalypse.

 
Dystopian Thrillers

Divergent / Veronica Roth          
There are five factions in Tris’s future Chicago, the outcome of ancestors who decided that humans were selfish and corrupt forming factions against what each group thought were the biggest ills. As in many dystopian novels, teens have to choose a faction and then go through an initiation. When tested, it turns out that Tris is a Divergent, she possesses traits of more than one faction. This is dangerous, since the leaders want blind obedience, if one is to be accepted into the faction. Those not accepted are sent to live among the factionless.

The Hunger Games / Suzanne Collins     
In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss's skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister's place. (SLJ gr 7+)

Life as We Knew It / Susan Beth Pfeffer 
Through journal entries sixteen-year-old Miranda describes her family's struggle to survive after a meteor hits the moon, causing worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. Her mother’s boyfriend, a doctor, dies of a widespread flu and as food supplies diminish, neighbors arm themselves.

Little Brother / Cory Doctorow 
After being interrogated for days by the Department of Homeland Security in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco, California, seventeen-year-old Marcus, released into what is now a police state, decides to use his expertise in computer hacking to set things right.  (SLJ gr 10+)

The Knife of Never Letting Go / Patrick Ness       
Growing up in Prentisstown, Todd Hewitt could hear the thoughts of all the people in town. It just so happened that all of them were male, and when the story begins, except for him, men. Todd has a month to go before he is to turn 14 and become a man when his brothers force him to flee their farm and a wild preacher who has come for him. He and his dog flee by way of the swamp where he encounters a girl, the sole survivor of a spaceship crash. Both of them set out across New World searching for answers about his colony's true past and seeking a way to warn the ship bringing hopeful settlers from Old World and fleeing the men of Prentisstown.

The Testing / Joelle Charbonneau        
Sixteen-year-old Malencia (Cia) Vale is chosen to participate in The Testing to attend the University; however, Cia is fearful when she figures out her friends who do not pass The Testing are disappearing. (SLJ gr 7+) (on order 6/3/13)

 

Paranormal Thrillers

Blink Once / Cylin Busby
West, a high school senior with everything going for him until an accident leaves him paralyzed, connects with Olivia, a patient in the hospital room next to his, who seems to understand his dreams and nightmares but who has a secret.

Clockwork Angel / Cassandra Clare            
When sixteen-year-old orphan Tessa Fell's older brother suddenly vanishes, her search for him leads her into Victorian-era London's dangerous supernatural underworld, and when she discovers that she herself is a Downworlder, she must learn to trust the demon-killing Shadowhunters if she ever wants to learn to control her powers and find her brother.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth / Carrie Ryan             
Mary is living in a post-zombie world, in a walled compound where zombies cannot enter, but their fingers occasionally scratch people and kill them, leaving them undead. Most of the village has forgotten there was ever anything better, but Mary was raised on her mother's stories of the ocean and she is determined to get there. When the walls of her village are breached, Mary, Travis (the boy she loves but who is betrothed to her best friend), Harry, her betrothed, her brother, an orphan boy and a dog have to set out in hopes of finding a safe place. A tree provides sanctuary for a time, but can they survive there?

The Name of the Star / Maureen Johnson  
Another Jack the Ripper thriller, this one with paranormal elements and set in present day London. just as Louisiana teen Rory Deveaux has moved into her new boarding school in the middle of Wexford on London's East side a series of Jack the Ripper copycat murders begin. In the midst of this scare, she and her British roommate go sneaking around and she is the only one who spots the man police believe to be the murderer. Tension mounts when Rory becomes the next target.

Numbers / Rachel Ward
Jem hates to look into people's eyes. She sees the date they will die. It happened with her mother and it happened with a man digging food out of garbage bins. She's a loner, living in foster care, mostly skipping school and sometimes hanging out with Spider, except that she knows he's not got long to live. Then one day they visit the London Eye and she knows everyone is going to die.

 
Science Fiction & Fantasy Thrillers

Airborn / Kenneth Oppel
Matt, a young cabin boy aboard an airship, and Kate, a wealthy young girl traveling with her chaperone, team up to search for the existence of mysterious winged creatures reportedly living hundreds of feet above the Earth's surface.  (SLJ gr 6-10) 

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment / James Patterson  
After the mutant Erasers abduct the youngest member of their group, the "birdkids," who are the result of genetic experimentation, take off in pursuit and find themselves struggling to understand their own origins and purpose.  (SLJ gr 7+)

The False Prince / Jennifer A. Nielsen             
In the country of Carthya, a devious nobleman engages four orphans in a brutal competition to be selected to impersonate the king's long-missing son in an effort to avoid a civil war.

Graceling / Kristin Cashore        
In a world where some people are born with extreme and often-feared skills called Graces, Katsa struggles for redemption from her own horrifying Grace, the Grace of killing, and teams up with another young fighter to save their land from a corrupt king.

The Scorpio Races / Maggie Stievater  
On the remote island of Thisby where man eating horses, the capaill uisce, come in from the sea, each year there is a race and for the past four years Sean Kendrick has won the race as had his father until one year he was eaten. Another orphan to the horses, Puck Connolly has decided to ride in the races as well. Her brother has decided to leave Thisby in search of work and she desperately needs the prize money. Puck is the first woman to enter the race, and she has won many enemies by doing so. Chief among them is the son of the stable's owner. Humiliated by losing year after year to Sean, his father’s stable hand, he is determined to win at all costs.

Unwind /  Neal Shusterman 
In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives "unwound" and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs--and, perhaps, save their own lives.  (SLJ gr 9+)

 
Crime Thrillers

Acceleration / Graham McNamee
Stuck working in the Lost and Found of the Toronto Transit Authority for the summer, seventeen-year-old Duncan finds the diary of a man who loves killing animals and who is planning to kill a woman who rides on the subway. Duncan sets out to stop him.

The Christopher Killer: A Forensic Mystery / Alane Ferguson     
On the payroll as an assistant to her coroner father, seventeen-year-old Cameryn Mahoney uses her knowledge of forensic medicine to catch the killer of a friend while putting herself in terrible danger.

Finding Lubchenko /  Michael Simmons
When his father is framed for murder and bioterrorism, high-school junior Evan, using clues from a stolen laptop, travels from Seattle to Paris with two friends to find the real culprit.  (SLJ gr 8+)

I Hunt Killers / Barry Lyga   
Seventeen-year-old Jazz learned all about being a serial killer from his notorious "Dear Old Dad," but believes he has a conscience that will help fight his own urges and right some of his father's wrongs, so he secretly helps the police apprehend the town's newest murderer, "The Impressionist."

  
Money Run / Jack Heath  
Fifteen-year-olds Ashley and Benjamin are planning the heist of a lifetime, but they are not counting on a hit man who has plans of his own.

Revolver / Marcus Sedgewick 
Finland, 1910: Fifteen-year-old Sig is shocked to see a hole in the frozen lake outside his family's cabin and to find his father's corpse nearby. Why did Einar steer his dog sled across the lake instead of taking the safer land route? Sig's sister and stepmother go for help, leaving Sig alone with Einar's body in the cabin. Soon after, an armed stranger barges in, demanding a share of Einar's stolen gold. Sig wonders what are his chances of retrieving his father's hidden revolver or of escaping.

The Rules for Disappearing / Ashley Elston    
High school student "Meg" has changed identities so often that she hardly knows who she is anymore, and her family is falling apart, but she knows that two of the rules of witness protection are be forgettable and do not make friends--but in her new home in Louisiana a boy named Ethan is making that difficult. (ages 12+) 

Seconds Away: A Mickey Bolitar Novel / Harlan Coben                 
"When tragedy strikes close to home, Mickey Bolitar and his new friends find themselves at the center of a murder mystery."


Psychological Thrillers

The Compound / S.A. Bodeen  
When nuclear war strikes, Eli and his family rush to their incredible bomb shelter and the door closes. The trouble is, Eli's twin brother and grandmother were left outside. Now they have to wait for 15 years till the door will open. As food supplies start to diminish, Eli realizes that his father is totally mad and that things may not be as they appear.

Dead Girls Don't Write Letters / Gail Giles  
Fourteen-year-old Sunny is stunned when a total stranger shows up at her house posing as her older sister Jazz, who supposedly died out of town in a fire months earlier.

Paranoid Park / Blake Nelson 
A sixteen-year-old Portland, Oregon skateboarder, whose parents are going through a difficult divorce, is engulfed by guilt and confusion when he accidentally kills a security guard at a train yard.

Stolen / Lucy Christopher   
Sixteen-year-old Gemma, a British city-dweller, is abducted while on vacation with her parents and taken to the Australian outback, where she soon realizes that escape attempts are futile, and in time she learns that her captor is not as despicable as she first believed.  (SLJ gr 9+)

Wolf Rider: A Tale of Terror / Avi
After receiving an apparent crank call from a man claiming to have committed murder, fifteen-year-old Andy finds his close relationship with his father crumbling as he struggles to make everyone believe him.


Psychological Drama

Tenderness / Robert Cormier                   
A psychological thriller told from the points of view of a teenage serial killer and the runaway girl who falls in love with him.

Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged / Rebecca Fjelland Davis            
The friendship between a troubled boy, recently released from a reform school, and the farm girl who lives next door angers the faculty at their school and leads to a dangerous confrontation.

This is What I Did / Ann Dee Ellis           
Bullied because of an incident in his past, eighth-grader Logan is unhappy at his new school and has difficulty relating to others until he meets a quirky girl and a counselor who believe in him.

Inventing Elliot / Graham Gardner   
A victim of bullying, Elliot invents a calmer, cooler self when he changes schools in the middle of freshman year, but soon attracts the wrong kind of attention from the Guardians who "maintain order" at the new school. (gr 7-9)

Amandine / Adele Griffen                                 
On the first day of school, when shy, plain Delia befriends Amandine, she never have imagined the dangerous turns their friendship would take.

Silent to the Bone / E.L. Konigsburg              
Branwell’s best friend is sure Connor would never hurt is sister who’s in a coma.  The au-pair blamed Connor for dropping her and Connor’s been dumb struck ever since.

Girlhearts / Norma Fox Mazer                      
Thirteen-year-old Sarabeth Silver's life is turned upside-down when her mother dies suddenly, leaving her orphaned, confused, and at the mercy of everyone who seems to know what is best for her.

Echo / Kate Morgenroth            
After Justin witnesses his brother's accidental shooting death, he must live with the repercussions, as the same horrific day seems to happen over and over.  (gr 9+)

After the Wreck I Picked Myself Up and Flew Away / Joyce Carol Oates        
Blaming herself for the car accident on the Tappan Zee Bridge that killed her mother, fifteen-year-old Jenna undergoes a difficult physical and emotional recovery.

Full Tilt / Neal Shusterman                   
When sixteen-year-old Blake goes to a mysterious, by-invitation-only carnival he somehow knows that it could save his comatose brother, but soon learns that much more is at stake if he fails to meet the challenge presented there by the beautiful Cassandra.

The Killer's Cousin / Nancy Werlin                
After being acquitted of murder, seventeen-year-old David goes to stay with relatives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he finds himself forced to face his past as he learns more about his strange young.

The Rules of Survival / Nancy Werlin
Seventeen-year-old Matthew recounts his attempts, starting at a young age, to free himself and his sisters from the grip of their emotionally and physically abusive mother.  (gr 9+)

Updated 7/25/2015