If watching Sharp Objects left you with a taste for psychological thrillers, you’ve come to the right place. Gillian Flynn’s debut novel has been brought to life by Amy Adams, Eliza Scanlen, and Patricia Clarkson in a moody and suspenseful miniseries following reporter Camille Preaker’s return to her hometown to cover the murders of two young women. When it comes to equally compelling psychological thrillers in the young adult space, there are many gems to discover. These works don’t hold back from delving into the dark world of murder, mystery, and twisted storylines that keep us up late at night. From small towns with missing girls to he-said-she-said unreliable narrators to mind-bending plot twists, these books are just the thing to get your heart racing.
Monday’s Not Coming, by Tiffany D. Jackson
Monday Charles is missing, and the only person who seems to notice is her best friend, Claudia. Days and weeks go by, and Claudia knows Monday must be in trouble. But when she goes to Monday’s house, no one will give her any answers—not even Monday’s mother or sisters. Claudia takes matters into her own hands to dig deeper into Monday’s disappearance. The novel confronts a terrible truth: how can a teenage girl vanish without anyone noticing she’s gone?
Lies You Never Told Me, by Jennifer Donaldson
Gabe and Elyse are strangers with something to hide. When Elyse is cast as the costar of Romeo and Juliet instead of her best friend, Brynn, she has her doubts, but is pulled inevitably into the spotlight. Gabe, on the other hand, has a secret that could change his life forever, which leaves him at the mercy of his popular girlfriend, Sasha. And both Gabe and Elyse have mistakenly fallen for the wrong person. Told in alternating points of view, Lies You Never Told Me explores the power of choice, and the deadly consequences making the wrong one can have.
Fragments of the Lost, by Megan Miranda
New York Times bestseller Megan Miranda returns to YA with the story of Jessa Whitworth, searching for the truth behind her ex-boyfriend’s death. She has been asked to pack up Caleb’s room by his grieving mother, and she couldn’t say no: both of them feel Jessa is responsible for the accident that took his life. But as Jessa is packing Caleb’s entire life away, her memories return and she begins to question everything she thought she knew about their relationship. What really happened on that bridge? Did Jessa truly know Caleb at all?
When I Am Through with You, by Stephanie Kuehn
“This isn’t meant to be a confession. Not in any spiritual sense of the word. Yes, I’m in jail at the moment. I imagine I’ll be here for a long time, considering. But I’m not writing this down for absolution and I’m not seeking forgiveness, not even from myself. Because I’m not sorry for what I did to Rose. I’m just not. Not for any of it.”
Ben Gibson has a story to tell of what happened during the school camping trip into the mountains. It details a twisting, unforgettable tale of murder and the intentions behind it. But he’s only going to tell his story in his own way and on his own time. A page-turning, heart-pounding read that will keep you guessing.
White Rabbit, by Caleb Roehrig
In Caleb Roehrig’s return to the murder mystery, Rufus Holt’s life is falling apart. The ex-boyfriend who broke his heart, Sebastian, suddenly wants to “talk,” and as if that wasn’t complicated enough, Rufus’s sister needs his help. The boys go to meet her, only to discover she’s drenched in blood, with a knife in her hand and her boyfriend’s dead body beside her. The night keeps unraveling and time is running out, as Rufus has just one night to prove his sister isn’t a killer.
Girl Last Seen, by Anne Greenwood Brown and Heather Anastasiu
Two best friends with dreams of becoming musicians face life-altering changes when their video goes viral. Kady is a rising star, but Lauren’s star falls after a throat infection paralyzes her vocal chords. But the true falling out between them is over Kady’s boyfriend. At least, that’s as far as everyone knows. When Kady goes missing without a trace, the town and media point fingers at Lauren. With the help of an old friend, she has to prove her innocence and uncover a truth she was not prepared to learn.
This Darkness Mine, by Mindy McGinnis
McGinnis writes some of the best psychological thrillers out there and this critically acclaimed book has been referred to as Gone Girl meets Fight Club. Sasha Stone seemingly has a perfect life: great boyfriend, good grades, and she’s poised to becomes a star musician. What no one knows about her is that she absorbed her twin in the womb…and sometimes it feels like her heart doesn’t really belong to her. These moments are magnified when she meets Isaac Harver, who she’s drawn to in a way that doesn’t make sense. Could it be that a part of her that doesn’t truly fit? Sasha is faced with terrifying decisions to make in order to get things back to normal, and she won’t let anyone get in her way.
The Cheerleaders, by Kara Thomas
Thomas’s latest is the chilling tale of a small town and its five dead cheerleaders. Following a series of seemingly unrelated accidents that left the five girls dead, the town of Sunnybrook disbanded the cheerleading squad. Five years later, the school and town are ready to pay homage to the deceased with a memorial, but Monica, whose sister’s suicide made her the last girl to die, just wants to forget. But when she discovers letters in her stepdad’s desk, she realizes the events of five years ago might be connected, in a mystery only she can uncover because she’s at the center of it all.
#MurderTrending, by Gretchen McNeil
For those searching for a splash of dark humor with their murder, #MurderTrending is what you need. In this near-future thriller, audiences can stream deaths on The Postman app and reality TV show. Alcatraz 2.0 is a place where only the worst convicted felons are sent to get a taste of their own medicine at the hands of paid executioners. And it’s where seventeen-year-old Dee Guerrera wakes up after she’s wrongly convicted of her stepsister’s murder. Poised to be the app’s next victim, Dee refuses to go down for a murder she didn’t commit. With the help of her squad, the Death Row Breakfast Club, she tries to set the record straight before the executioners get her first.
All of This is True, by Lygia Day Peñaflor
Peñaflor’s sophomore novel, All of this is True, deals with fandom, celebrity, and the effects a harmful mentor can have. Miri Tran is a huge fan of Fatima Ro’s debut novel, Undertow. Along with her friends Soleil and Penny, the trio of popular Long Island girls sees their wildest dream come true: they develop a life-changing friendship with their favorite bestselling author. But it’s the kind of friendship that raises eyebrows: why is a twenty-two-year-old novelist spending time with a bunch of high school girls? Why were they chosen?
Told in a series of emails, texts, interview transcripts, and fictitious excerpts from Ro’s second novel, the publication of which had dark consequences, Peñaflor’s own sophomore novel makes an unreliable narrator out of all of its characters. Who told the truth and who lied? Where is Fatima Ro now? You’ll think about these characters and their twisted, semi-scripted lives long after you’ve turned this book’s final page.
A Line in the Dark, by Malinda Lo
Jess Wong is in love with her best friend, Angie, and Angie has no clue. Jess is the kind of person who observes because she’s so good at fading into the background. She’s content with her life continuing as it always has, unrequited crush and all, but that changes when Angie falls for Margot Adams. Margot comes from a privileged world of boarding schools and wealth. And Jess’s powers of observation don’t lie: she knows there’s more to Margot, and that something about her will hurt Angie. But Jess isn’t about to let that happen, in a thriller in which love and murder entwine.
People Like Us, by Dana Mele
Mele’s debut has been lauded as Gossip Girl meets Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. Kay Donovan is a girl who has reinvented herself to hide her past. The Kay everyone sees is a soccer star, charming, and the hit of Bay Academy. Then a girl is discovered dead in the lake, and Kay’s perfect new life starts to break apart. The dead girl left everyone a puzzle to solve—a scavenger hunt. Only this game turns everyone into a suspect, including Kay. She has found herself in the middle of a murder investigation, but she’ll do everything she can to survive the dead girl’s game.
A Psalm for Lost Girls, Katie Bayerl
The town of New Avon believes Tess da Costa is a saint, and after Tess’s tragic death, they petition the Pope to make that sainthood official. And when missing girl Ana Langone is found at Tess’s shrine, the fervor grows into something that’s hard to control. Callie, Tess’s sister, is disgusted by the publicity and determined to get to the bottom of who Tess really was. But what she discovers leads to more questions than answers, in a strong debut mystery about young girls and their secret lives.
Sadie, by Courtney Summers (September 4)
What’s sure to be Summers’ breakout novel tells an unforgettable story about sisters and forgotten girls. Sadie has done everything she possibly can to provide for herself and younger sister Mattie in the face of their mother’s neglect and abandonment. And when her sister is abducted and killed, Sadie does as she’s always done: takes things into her own hands. She’s determined to track down Mattie’s murderer and make him pay.
A year later, West McCray is the small-town radio host who hears of Sadie’s incredible story. His obsession over finding the missing girl grows into a true-crime podcast documenting his journey tracking Sadie’s footsteps. Will he find her, and the truth, before it’s too late?
Spin, by Lamar Giles (January 29)
Edgar Award finalist Lamar Giles is one to watch in early 2019: you need this mystery thriller on your radar. Spin is the story of a dead girl and a fandom that wants justice. Paris Secord (DJ ParSec) is found dead on her turntables. While her fans mourn the shocking death, the police investigating the murder resign themselves to the mystery turning into a cold case. But there are those who won’t give up until DJ ParSec’s killer is found. An unlikely alliance forms among Kya, ParSec’s ex-best friend; Fuse, ParSec’s #1 fan; and fandom ParSec Nation itself. Using social media, Fuse and Kya dig into ParSec’s past to uncover her secrets. Why would anyone want to kill her? The entire online world is watching and waiting for the shocking revelations.