The best suspense novels with emotionally intelligent characters

Ashley Nikole Author Of Fallout
By Ashley Nikole

The Books I Picked & Why

The Secret History of Us

By Jessi Kirby

The Secret History of Us

Why this book?

I’ve always been deeply fascinated with any amnesia-related plot. A teenager who survives a near-death experience and cannot remember the last several years of her life? And, despite this being YA novel, as an older reader, I could not put this book down. It kept me guessing, constantly deducing as everything unfolded, and though the main characters are young, their emotional processes are so raw and beautiful. I’ve reread this one many a time. For any Nancy Drew gamers out there, The Secret History of Us is like a ND game/Nicholas Sparks’ novel hybrid.


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Six Months Later

By Natalie D. Richards

Six Months Later

Why this book?

Again, the amnesia thing! Imagine waking up in class and realizing six months have lapsed—and you have no idea what happened. Six Months Later reminds me of the high-school version of The Bourne series—suspects are everywhere, people know too much but say too little…you don’t know who to trust but something is majorly off and you have to figure it out—despite not being able to remember…

I think adult readers often write off (pun intended) Young Adult fiction as being juvenile, but some of the best thrillers I’ve read have had high-school/college-age characters. I adore reading books where characters are not merely analytical—they are deeply emotionally intelligent.


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If I Run

By Terri Blackstock

If I Run

Why this book?

Who else loves a good “Fall-guy + I’ve-been-framed-for-murder” suspense novel? Kinda like The Fugitive movie with Harrison Ford? 

Casey Cox has been framed for the murder of her boyfriend and is made the target of a national manhunt. I finished reading If I Run at almost three in the morning—it was that riveting. Though the main plot deals with highly emotional elements (PTSD, living on the run, etc.), the subplots are equally as gut-wrenching. Read this book and you will be left with wide eyes and—possibly—a gaping mouth.


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Wolfsbane (Discarded Heroes Vol. 3)

By Ronie Kendig

Wolfsbane (Discarded Heroes Vol. 3)

Why this book?

Dani barely escapes captivity in Venezuela with her life, but after coming back to the United States, she struggles to live past the trauma she was subjected to. When she meets Canyon Metcalfe, an ex-soldier with troubled eyes—and an undeniable pull between them—little does she know that he will draw her back into her worst nightmare…in Venezuela.

Wolfsbane deals with the tough question of—if we’ve been put through the worst of traumas and are at our wits end trying to figure out how to cope, what is the point of living? This book has it all, high EI (emotional intelligence), suspense, romance, and adventure. It’s also another book I finished at three in the morning, so, there’s that.


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Life After

By Katie Ganshert

Life After

Why this book?

The sole survivor of a train wreck, Autumn Manning lives crippled with guilt. When she meets the husband of one of the women who died in the wreck, sparks fly, and Autumn’s guilt only increases. And, while very likely the saddest book I’ve recommended thus far, Life After paints a beautiful, cathartic picture of grief that few authors have. Grief is part of life, but people don’t like to talk about what happens to our hearts/psyches when it descends. While Life After may elicit a few tears, it is a stunning, beautiful book that I highly recommend.


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