3 Can’t-Put-Down Thrillers for Teens | YA Spotlight

One girl survives a summer camp massacre, another searches for her missing sister before it’s too late, and a third goes on a mysterious treasure hunt in these reads that will keep teens guessing until the end.

One girl survives a summer camp massacre, another searches for her missing sister before it’s too late, and a third goes on a mysterious treasure hunt in these reads that will keep readers guessing until the end.

Dugan, Jennifer. The Last Girls Standing. 320p. Putnam. Aug. 2023. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593532072.
Gr 9 Up–Sloan, 18, is one of only two survivors of a gruesome slaughter that took place during the summer camp where she worked as a camp counselor. With very few memories of what occurred—masked men wielding machetes, snippets of kissing her girlfriend while covered in blood—Sloan struggles to come to terms with her trauma. She is plagued by nightmares and has formed a codependent relationship with her girlfriend, Cherry, whom she had only known for a few days before the massacre. They are virtually inseparable; Sloan relies heavily on Cherry to fill in the blanks of what really happened that night. When the news reveals information about the cult that massacred their friends, Sloan begins to suspect that her girlfriend may have been more than just a victim—she may have even been a part of it. Can she trust what Cherry says happened? This psychological thriller will interest readers who appreciate a little bit of gore. The characters are complex and realistic. Main characters read as white, with several supporting characters cued as Black, Korean, and Latinx. Throughout the book, readers see the arc of how Sloan’s relationships with family and friends change after the trauma, as well as her growth as she learns to live with her PTSD and anxiety. VERDICT A recommended purchase where thrillers are popular; hand this to fans of Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and Stephen King’s IT.–Ashley Grillo

McKay, Kirsty. Have You Seen My Sister? 352p. Sourcebooks/Fire. Sept. 2023. pap. $11.99. ISBN 9781728268453.
Gr 8 Up–A missing girl, many suspects, and a desperate sister looking for answers. Esme Gill is almost 16, and she’s finishing her trip to the U.S. before going back to England. Her beautiful and popular sister Gaia works at a ski resort in New Hampshire, and she’s gearing up to start college. The day before the girls’ family returns to the UK, Gaia goes missing. Esme and her parents are frantically tracing back her steps, and hidden secrets start coming out to the light. She befriends local boy Bode, who helps her do their own sleuthing while the adults work with the police. The two go on a wild chase that takes them through the mountains, a cabin in the woods, a slowly thawing forest, and many other places around Moon Mountain to pick up clues for Gaia’s whereabouts. Can Esme and Bode find her before it’s too late? Small-town life, family secrets, and a host of diverse characters make this book a compelling read. Gaia is biracial, Black and white, in a majority-white community, which is discussed frankly and matter-of-factly. The romantic friction between Esme and Bode adds to the overall tension of the plot, and despite a few far-reaching plot points, readers will fall in love with the witty main character, who is also open about her dyspraxia. VERDICT This is a fast-paced, twisty read that will keep readers guessing until the very end. A great addition to YA collections; hand it to readers who enjoy the works of Karen M. McManus, Jessica Goodman, and Holly Jackson.–Carol Youssif

Reed, Mackenzie. The Rosewood Hunt. 368p. HarperTeen. Oct. 2023. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063287600.
Gr 9 Up–Lily Rosewood is her grandmother’s favorite—and has always dreamed of leading the family’s fashion business. Living with Gram, she wants to learn everything she can to take over the business one day. But when Gram unexpectedly dies, Lily feels lost and confused. She is banned from her home, Gram’s mansion, and her belongings are locked up along with the mansion. After Lily moves in with her uncle and cousin Daisy, she receives a note from Gram written in invisible ink, like a childhood game they used to play. One note leads to another as Lily follows a set of clues. She is surprised to find that three other teens are also joining her in the treasure hunt. Each message sends Lily, Leo, Quinn, and Caleb to a new location in town, hopefully leading them to her grandmother’s fortune. However, along the way, the teens find that they have competition to find the treasure. The question is, who will find it first and inherit Gram’s fortune? This fast-paced mystery is a treasure hunt that includes family betrayals, greed, diversity, and a little romance. It would appeal to old-school mystery lovers. VERDICT This mystery will grab the attention of readers from the start as it takes them along a trail of clues. An excellent addition to library collections for teens that will satisfy genre fans.–Nancy Hawkins

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