Already addicted to Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes and its sequel, A Torch Against the Night? Of course you are: her thrilling fantasy series delivers intense excitement against the backdrop of a lush, beautifully imagined, totally terrifying landscape, with a diverse cast of characters you can’t help but cheer for. But we’ll be waiting a long time for the next two books in the series, and the bookish hangover after Torch is so very real. So I’ve rounded up six more diverse YA thrillers to keep you satisfied. From the high-stakes digital realm of cyber-terrorism to heartbreaking reads that focus on a tragic loss…well, I won’t say hang on tight.
Because these books simply won’t let go.
The Silence of Six, by E.C. Myers
From the Andre Norton Award–winning author of Fair Coin (another thrilling book in its own right) comes the action-packed Silence of Six series. When a teenager hacks into the presidential debate, he delivers to the world a confusing message, just before killing himself on live TV. Also left confused? His best friend, Max Stein, who finds himself thrust into a world of hacktivists and government officials, who’ve targeted him in the wake of the madness. He’ll have to break out his hacking skills to figure out what’s going on, before he’s the next to be silenced.
The second book in Myers’ duology of hacking and political intrigue, Against All Silence, came out exclusively at Barnes & Noble last year. Pick up both (and maybe the ebook short story SOS) and spend the weekend curled up with thrilling prose.
Ink & Ashes, by Valynne E. Maetani
When a teen girl finds a letter from her long dead father on the anniversary of his death, it leads to dark, hidden secrets that should have remained covered up. Her father was a member of the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia, and as she unravels his past from the clues she finds, that past doesn’t stay buried. It comes after her, her friends, and her family. Maetani’s debut is a high-stakes thriller blending action and mystery, with a bold Japanese heroine leading the charge to save those she loves.
Endangered, by Lamar Giles
In Giles’ latest mystery/thriller, readers meet Panda, an anonymous blogger who uses her photography skills to expose the bullies and bad teachers in her school. Her real name? Lauren Daniels, though that’s a secret she keeps locked up tight: it’s an anonymous blog for a reason. But this is a thriller, and that means secrets don’t stay secret. Particularly ones that can have such dire consequences. In the case of Panda’s blogging adventures, she snaps a photo of a teacher and a student being more than inappropriate, then receives a photo from an anonymous source—a photo of herself, taking that picture. Someone calling themselves The Admirer knows who she is. As the two start swapping competitive, increasingly impressive photos, their competition quickly escalate and spirals out of control, as people start dying. Panda will have to figure out her literal secret admirer’s identity, or expose who she really is, if she’s going to save herself and everyone in the Admirer’s path.
This Is Where It Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp
Whenever I talk about this book, I have to call out that instantly iconic cover. Look at it. Just look at it. You know this book is going to devastate you at a glance. The action of the entire novel takes place over less than one hour, centering on a diverse cast of characters dealing with a complete and total nightmare: a school shooting. The point of view in this book shifts among characters around the school, from students trapped inside a locked auditorium with the shooter, to students trying to find help for their friends trapped in the building. It’s a harrowing book full of heartbreak, and shows how even at the darkest times, there are people ready to take a stand.
A Fierce and Subtle Poison, by Samantha Mabry
In this beautiful debut blending magical realism with a light retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Rappaccini’s Daughter, a teenager named Lucas grows up hearing legends of a cursed girl, her body full of poison and gifted with magic. These rumors? Turns out they are all too true. After Lucas’s girlfriend is found dead on the beach with other locals, Isabel appears, sending him letters and drawing him into her world of magic and legend. This is a lyrical, heartbreaking book that’s incredibly sad and gorgeously imagined. Magic is mashed together with thrills and mystery, as Lucas tries to unravel the murders and the secrets of the poisoned girl.
Last Seen Leaving, by Caleb Roehrig
In one of the most unique coming-out stories you’ll ever read, Roehrig introduces readers to Flynn, a teen boy who finds himself at the center of a police investigation surrounding his missing girlfriend. As her boyfriend, they’re certain he’ll know something about what’s happened to her. But Flynn has his own secret to keep, and as he wrestles to uncover the mystery of his missing girlfriend, he also finds himself coming to terms with truths about himself, and who he really is. The twists and turns don’t stop in this unique LGBTQ thriller, and neither does the assault on your emotions.