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Teen

15 Captivating YA Thrillers to Read This Summer

by Dena McMurdie

ya-thrillers
Photography by Seana Williamson

Young adult thrillers are my latest addiction and I can’t get enough of them. Whether they’re exploring deep space, experimenting with monsters, or navigating private school politics, YA thrillers inevitably keep me turning pages well past my bedtime. Here are ten action-packed thrillers I’m obsessing over this summer.

  • The Counselors

    by Jessica Goodman

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    Secrets, lies, and murder collide at a summer camp where Goldie works as a counselor. Her best friend goes to the lake one night, and the following day, a dead body turns up in the water. Goldie gets caught between wanting the truth about that night and wanting to protect her friend. If you love this book, grab a copy of Jessica Goodman’s other YA thriller, They’ll Never Catch Us.

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  • Lies You Never Told Me

    by Jennifer Donaldson

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    A high school drama with a twist, this novel follows four teens through breakups, new love, and dark secrets. With plenty of surprises and disturbing elements, this book will keep you flying through the pages.

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  • Family of Liars

    by E. Lockhart

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    If you read and loved the bestselling TikTok sensation, We Were Liars, you won’t want to miss the prequel. Return to the Sinclair family’s private island at an earlier time for another mind-blowing mystery. Secrets and betrayal mixed with wealth and privilege make this an irresistible summer thriller!

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  • Killer Content

    by Kiley Roache

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    These six TikTok influencers are living the perfect life. They live together in a beachfront mansion in Malibu, and their sponsorship deals having given them more money than they could ever dream of. But when one of the teenagers ends up dead in the infinity pool the police will need to discover what happened. Which is easier said than done, because everyone in the house had reasons to get rid of Sydney Reynolds. But only one is a killer…

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  • Go Hunt Me

    by Kelly deVos

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    Dracula meets the modern age in this survival thriller about a group of teenagers filming a horror movie in a remote castle in Romania. The teens disappear one by one, a cloaked figure roams the halls, and a girl turns the tables on the mysterious killer. This spooky thriller will send chills racing down your spine!

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  • The Fear

    by Natasha Preston

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    Social media turns deadly in this chilling novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Twin and The Lake. Izzy’s classmates share their worst fears through a viral meme—then die in the same way. With bodies piling up, Izzy sets out to find the killer before they strike again.

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  • Who We Were in the Dark

    by Jessica Taylor

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    This book is an excellent choice if you’re new to YA thrillers or want a story that isn’t so spooky. It’s about a lake with a terrible history, a group of friends, and a vanishing girl. As Nora looks for her missing friend, she must dig through the past to learn how everything went wrong. Part coming-of-age story and part mystery, it’s the perfect summer read.

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  • Girl Overboard

    by Sandra Block

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    Izzy and Jade met on their cruise to Bermuda. Jade is a bit of a daredevil and she instantly makes Izzy’s family vacation much more fun, until the day Jade went missing. The investigators claim that Jade fell overboard but Izzy doesn’t believe them and when she digs into the disappearance, she realizes that someone doesn’t want her to find the truth. If Izzy isn’t careful, she will be the next one to go missing.

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  • This Is My America

    by Kim Johnson

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    Head to Texas for a thrilling murder mystery that tackles racial inequality in the justice system. When her older brother gets accused of murdering a white girl, Tracy decides to find out what happened. As she investigates the crime, she digs up secrets and history that her small town would rather keep hidden.

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  • Dark and Shallow Lies

    by Ginny Myers Sain

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    Journey deep into the Bayou to a small town with an overabundance of psychics, a killer on the loose, and more secrets than the swamp itself. Grey’s best friend went missing, and now Grey wants answers. But as she digs into the mystery, she only finds more questions. She’ll have to wade through the clues and secrets if she wants to find out what happened to her friend.

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  • A Good Girl's Guide to Murder

    by Holly Jackson

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    My teenage daughter and her friends are hooked on this fast-paced bestselling series. Pip is a true-crime podcaster, keeping her audience updated as she looks into the murder of a teenage girl five years earlier. As she uncovers secrets about the case, she realizes the wrong person is in prison. The actual killer is on the loose, and they want to silence her before she tells the world what really happened.

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  • City of Saints & Thieves

    by Natalie C. Anderson

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    When Tina was a child, she and her mother fled the Congo as refugees. They tried to make a new life for themselves in Sangui City, Kenya. Tina’s mom gets a job as a maid in the prominent Greyhill family home, whose fortunes were made from corruption and crime. So, when her mother is found shot to death in Mr. Greyhill’s personal study, she knows who’s behind it and she will stop on nothing to exact her revenge.

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  • I Must Betray You

    by Ruta Sepetys

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    History, spies, and blackmail combine in this riveting thriller from the author of Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray. The secret police force Cristian to become an informant—spying on his friends, family, and neighbors. But Cristian wants a better world, and he’s willing to fight for it. This captivating novel will keep you glued to the page!

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  • The Agathas

    by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson

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    This Agatha Christie-inspired YA thriller has more twists and turns than a pretzel. Alice disappeared, then reappeared, and refuses to say what happened. So, when Brooke Donovan goes missing for good, Iris and Alice team up to find out what happened. With a significant payday from Brooke’s grandmother on the line and a killer on their trail, the girls have their work cut out for them. It’s a good thing they have the entire collection of Agatha Christie’s mystery novels to help them.

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  • You'll Be the Death of Me

    by Karen M. McManus

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    What was supposed to be a fun day of ditching school turns sinister when Ivy, Mateo, and Cal witness the murder of a classmate. Catching the killer should be simple, but the three friends have secrets, and each has a connection to the murdered boy. Suddenly, the teens find themselves under investigation for the death, and they can’t help but wonder if someone set them up.

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2018 and updated in 2022.