I’ve recently gotten into reading some more mystery/thrillers than usual. I’m not a person who likes to be creeped out while reading, so I used to avoid them. (Notable exceptions are obviously two of my all-time favorite book series… whoops?) There’s just something fun and appealing about them lately. My Goodreads shelf is over 150 books strong for this genre, but I’ve only read a handful.
So… as much as I enjoy reading them lately, I find it VERY hard to give them a strong rating. Usually this comes from a few different factors that I’ll talk about below. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve really liked quite a few too! There are some elements that I consider read-bait for me, too. Let’s chat about young adult mysteries, mmmkay?I have three main issues when I read YA mysteries. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve generally enjoyed most of the books I’m going to talk about below… but some major elements of each story just don’t work for me. It’s been obvious across a few books and I’ve noticed it a lot lately.
Arguably my biggest issue lately is that I cannot connect to the characters. The main reason I can’t connect with them is because I’m naturally suspicious of everyone. Usually I can get comfortable with the main character because, chances are, they’re not a suspect. I suspect EVERY side character of being involved (because come on, how many times has it been the best friend who is secretly screwing the MC over?!). Because of this, I just never am 100% in love with characters in mysteries. If there’s a chance they have something to do with the murder or disappearance, I’m am onto them like nobody’s business.
Sometimes I just sit there reading the book and wondering… really? Sixteen year olds are involved with this mystery? I can’t wrap my brain around the fact that people younger than me can be so gung-ho about solving murder mysteries. I know, at that age, I’d go to the cops immediately and/or stay as FAR away as humanly possible. It’s hard to suspend my disbelief while reading, unfortunately. I know that people are obviously capable of some pretty terrible things, so it’s not impossible that these things could happen. I just can’t get out of my head about the fact that these are basically children going out and about trying to find out some scary shit. OR, in a lot of cases, there’s a high school student behind this SUPER complicated murder-filled scheme. Gah.
I’ve noticed lately that I’m better at picking up plot clues and making guesses about what’s going to happen. This is definitely true for some of the more predictable contemporary romances I read, but I’ve noticed lately I’m so much better about predicting whodunit. If I can’t think of exactly how or why, I at least have the idea of the person. In some cases, I have the how/why but can’t think of the person. Either way, I find myself predicting quite a few plot twists. It kind of sucks because I really WANT to go back to my clueless ways!
Now… let’s move on to something more positive: some of my favorite mystery/thriller books! All of the books you see below were definitely well-received by me for various reasons.
- Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard • One of my all-time favorite mystery series, even though I do agree that it probably lasted just a tiny bit too long… good lord.
- All Fall Down by Ally Carter • I’ve seriously loved the first two books in this series. Ally Carter will always be an auto-buy author for me. I love the setting of Embassy Row too.
- The Fixer by Jennifer Lynn Barnes • Gah, this book was fantastic. It has no romance, which is something I usually wouldn’t like… but I really needed that at the time. I have an ARC of book two that I better have read by the time this post goes live 😉
- Private by Kate Brian • My favorite lady Kate Brian/Kieran Scott killed it with (most) of this series. I definitely need to finally finish it off. I didn’t like the twist in THIS series…
- Shadowlands by Kate Brian • Evidently I’m one of very few people who loved this whole trilogy, including the twist that happened at the end of book one. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- The Lying Game by Sara Shepard • Totally binged this series randomly, and loved every second of it. I think that it was really different than her other books (finally!).
- A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis • This book was super out of my comfort zone but I couldn’t be happier that I gave it a shot. Such an atmospheric read. Loved it.
- Dangerous Boys by Abigail Haas • I still need to read Dangerous Girls but I really loved this one. Very creepy book with crazy twists and turns. I love when books start at the end too.
- They All Fall Down by Roxanne St. Claire • I own this one so the excuses are not valid.
- Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer • I also own this one, so…sorry for being a butt.
- Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan • I don’t watch Revenge, but this one seems cool.
- Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards • Yeah, I also own this one. Shoot me.
- The Leaving by Tara Altebrando • Probably creepier than the books I read, but I’m intrigued.
- Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys • I am immediately into any books about societies.
- The Amateurs by Sara Shepard • A new mystery series from Sara Shepard! Love, love, love.
- The Gilded Cage by Lucinda Gray • Definitely getting creepy historical fiction vibes!
As you may gather from the books above (both my list of favorites and the books on my TBR), there are some common themes from mystery books. I love finding ones with certain elements; they just call to me and I can’t resist. Some examples are below…