I have a large collection of young adult mystery books. I love every book in my collection for one reason or another.
I think it’s something that we can all agree upon that we all love a good mystery or thriller. The idea of going into the unknown, having to collect clue to piece together and consider all possibilities to find out the truth or even to ‘solve a case’.
It’s not even just about reading mysteries and thrillers ourselves, no, I think we’ve all secretly wanted to play detective at one time or another.
It’s only natural, after all, as children, we are often placed in front of the television to watch the likes of Scooby-Doo and the gang as they solve mysteries and go about unmasking that weeks’ ghost, monsters and ghouls. Only for them to turn out to be a normal person hidden behind a mask, terrorizing others for their gain.
But it’s fascinating, and it’s something a lot of us don’t let go of either. Even as we grow up and have to face the realities of school, studying, social life and work, mysteries still fascinate us.
At a Glance: Our Top 8 Picks for Young Adult Mystery Books
- Pretty Little Liars By Sara Shepard
- One Of Us Is Lying By Karen M.McManus
- A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder By Holly Jackson
- Heartstream By Tom Pollock
- S.T.A.G.S By M.A Bennet
- People Like Us By Dana Mele
- They Wish They Were Us By Jessica Goodman
This year, Netflix released its own reboot version of Unsolved Mysteries. Considering the number of theories trending on social media and people reaching out with possible leads years later, it goes to prove just that.
However, there is a unique quality that Y.A. Mysteries and Thrillers can give us as readers, something that is entirely separate to their adult mysteries and cosy crime thrillers.
Y.A. Mysteries, they give us a sense of reality that we all know from being in school, from teenage angst, teen drama, juggling classes with homework and study. It gives us insight into those characters, making them more human in a way solving mysteries just because they can or have to rather than merely be part of the job they’re paid to do.
Table of Contents
Young Adult Mystery Books and Thrillers
We have compiled a list of our top picks for young adult mystery and thriller books. These books will surely keep you on the edge.
1. Pretty Little Liars By Sara Shepard
Many of you may already know this series by its television counterpart. Still, you may not have been aware that the story of Alison Dilaurentis and The Liars originally started as a twelve-part book series by Sara Shepard.
Still, the series follows Hanna Marin, Spencer Hastings, Emily Fields and Aria Montgomery as they try to find out what happened to their friend Alison after her disappearance three years ago. And it wouldn’t be Pretty Little Liars if ‘A’ didn’t appear too, threatening to expose all the Liars secrets, even the ones they thought only Alison knew.
The series has a few similar aspects to its T.V. series, but it also deviates a lot as well. If you’re interested in reading something with a familiar feel but still want the opportunity to work out who is ‘A’ and the mysteries for yourself, then this may be the series for you.
2. One Of Us Is Lying By Karen M.McManus
Probably one of the most well-known Y.A. mysteries to have been released in the past five years, Karen M.McManus certainly knows how to write a good mystery that leaves you itching for more. Think the classic 80s film The Breakfast Club and mix it with murder and mystery, and that is what One of Us Is Lying is.
When Yale hopeful Bronwyn finds herself in detention with sports star Cooper, bad boy Nate, prom Queen Addy and outsider Simon it isn’t long before things take a sinister turn when Simon ends up dead. Following that, all eyes are turned on Browyn, Cooper Nate and Addy as it is revealed that Simon was only 24 hours away from posting their deepest secrets online.
This is a story that keeps you on edge until the very end, so if you are looking for a dark mystery book for young adults that keeps you on the go, this would be something for you.
3. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder By Holly Jackson
Five years ago Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh, and it wasn’t long after that Sal took his own life in an admission of guilt. Everyone knows he did it; the police know he did, but someone in town isn’t quite sure.
When presented with her final-year project at school Pippa Fitz-Amobi, she decides instead of doing the typical essay type project like her peers. No, Pippa wants to find out what happened to Andie and catch a killer before they strike again.
This is a mystery where the stakes are high and the question of how far will Andie’s killer go to prevent Pippa’s investigation and uncovering the truth about who not only killed Andie but also why Sal Singh died as a result.
4. Heartstream By Tom Pollock
Heartstream is an app that allows you to feel everything, literally. Amy Becker is sort of a celebrity in the Heartstream world, broadcasting every moment she thinks of her mother’s illness and grief.
Heartstream is the ultimate YA Mystery and Thriller that keeps you on the go and feeling on edge. After her mother’s funeral, where an abundance of Amy’s fan from the app gatecrash desperate to keep feeling Amy’s grief, she returns home where there is another unpleasant surprise.
She finds yet another fan, but this one is more dangerous than the others.
Amy’s fan seems to want to talk, and she’ll do anything to stop Amy from leaving, including hooking up her house with explosives. This is one of the most captivating young adult mystery books.
5. S.T.A.G.S By M.A Bennet
Another well known Y.A. mystery and thriller writer, M.A Bennet’s S.T.A.G.S. is undoubtedly one of the most twisted recommendations on our list.
Set an elitist school, Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into her new sixth form, that is until she received an invitation to one of the most exclusive weekend away with the most popular and wealthy.
Greer is all set to go, but it doesn’t take long for her to realize that there are simply some invitations that you just shouldn’t accept. Invited to play a part in three bloodsports of hunting, shooting and fishing, it soon dawns on Greer that those being hunted aren’t animals, but those that have been brought from the school and that includes her.
6. People Like Us By Dana Mele
It’s not uncommon for a few of us to have skeletons in our closets, secrets that we would prefer not to become common knowledge. That is something that is Kay Donovon certainly experiences in People Like Us. Now she’s reinvented herself entirely, a new school, she’s become the star soccer player and even become Miss Popular to boot. Until the body of a dead girl is found and Kay’s world is threatened to unravel completely.
Kay can’t help become involved, especially since the dead girl has left a computer coded scavenger hunt, which leads her to be backed up in a corner. A thriller driven more by the character dynamics, leaving you on tenterhooks to figure out what will happen next.
7. They Wish They Were Us By Jessica Goodman
We love a good thriller mystery that is set against the backdrop of elite and exclusive school and They Wish They Were Us certainly meets that criteria. In the Gold Coast, Long Island, Jill Newman and her friends give of the air of perfection with their cleanly pressed uniforms and manicures… But not all is as it first appears to be.
When Jill’s best friend Shalia Arnold is killed by her boyfriend, Jill tries to move on even after his confession. But that all changes during her senior year when Jill begins to get texts proclaiming Shalia’s boyfriend’s innocence which causes Jill to find out who did. The results being that her friendships and future are all thrown into jeopardy.
8. Sadie By Courtney Summers
Sadie is certainly the breakout novel from Courtney Summers and is one that you certainly cannot put down. If you enjoy true crime podcasts then this would be the book for you as a missing girl on a journey of revent leaves behinds clues in a serial-like podcast.
For Sadie, life just hadn’t been all that easy, she’s had to grow up all on her own while raising her sister Mattie in their isolated small town while trying to keep their heads above water and have a somewhat normal life.
That is until Mattie is found dead and Sadie’s world crumbles, after the police botch the investigationSadie has nothing to lose and is determined to find and bring her sister’s killer to justice.
It’s not long till Sadie’s story is heard and West McCray, a radio personality, becomes obsessed with find out what happened to Sadie. The result, he starts his own podcast as he begins to track Sadie’s journey and figure out the truth, before it’s too late.
If you’re in the mood for a thriller mystery then why don’t you check out one of our top recommendations for what are some of the best young adult mystery books.