The best YA books that will haunt your dreams tonight

Emily Kazmierski Author Of Don't Look Behind You
By Emily Kazmierski

Who am I?

Since I was a child, stories steeped in secrets have fascinated me. I spent many hours devouring books about detectives and spies, shadows and deceit. As an adult, it is a rare treat to discover one that is so engaging I must know how it unfolds as soon as possible, and is told in a way that leaves me surprised by how it ends. Each of these books is deliciously tricky, inspiring me to read quickly, before the ghosts between the pages could escape to haunt me. 

I wrote...

Don't Look Behind You

By Emily Kazmierski,

Book cover of Don't Look Behind You

What is my book about?

New school. New friends. New stalker.

Megan Pritchard aches to find safety and security when she starts fresh in a new town. Yet the habits of a chilling past are hard to break. Keep her head down. Never tell them who she is. When someone asks about her scar... lie. For a brief flicker of time, she thought she was safe. That she could find ways to fit into that small town with secrets of its own. Then... the prickle down her spine returns. Someone is watching and waiting—just like before. But this time they won’t settle for shallow cuts. Knives, and secrets, will be buried deep.

The books I picked & why

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By Laurie Halse Anderson,

Book cover of Wintergirls

Why this book?

Wintergirls is heart-wrenching and repulsive. Laurie Halse Anderson uses evocative, jarring language to tell a story about deadly friendship and an almost insurmountable eating disorder. This book pried open my eyes to the harsh struggles of people who live with eating disorders, teaching me about a reality I have mercifully never had to face. My heart ached for the main character as she descended farther into her illness, but left me with that cruel but vital ingredient: hope.

Little Thieves

By Margaret Owen,

Book cover of Little Thieves

Why this book?

Vanja Schmidt uses her powers of craftiness and wit for evil, or at least selfish gains. When she is cursed to turn slowly to gemstone for a particularly egregious theft, she realizes her time is running out. I devoured this book because Vanja is fascinating and unpredictable. She is cunning and hilarious, qualities I love in a main character. I greatly enjoyed the clever way Little Thieves retold an unfamiliar story steeped in German folklore and intrigue, and served with a tray of biscuits and laugh-out-loud banter.

Dead Girls Can't Tell Secrets

By Chelsea Ichaso,

Book cover of Dead Girls Can't Tell Secrets

Why this book?

Occasionally, there comes a book that is so compelling it demands to be read, breathless, from the very first page to the very last. Dead Girls Can’t Tell Secrets is one such book. This story contains so many twists it resembles a shockingly mangled slinky I delighted in attempting to untangle. I failed to predict the ending, but had fun guessing with every new bit of information the author revealed. It’s exactly what I look for in a young adult thriller.

White Smoke

By Tiffany D. Jackson,

Book cover of White Smoke

Why this book?

An allegedly haunted house, an evil step-sister, an abandoned and rotting town, and distrustful neighbors crowd together in this sharply told story about a girl running from her past. With each page, my paranoia grew until there was no easy way to tell what was real, and what was a red herring. This book was freaky. I was afraid to read it late at night because if I did, my over-active imagination would absolutely torture me with sinister nightmares.

Animal Farm

By George Orwell,

Book cover of Animal Farm

Why this book?

In this classic tale, farm animals revolt against human tyranny only to discover that an incremental slide into a totalitarian state is eminently worse. The first time I read Animal Farm, I couldn’t put it down. Each page horrified me even more than the last as its allegory pulled back the curtain to uncover just how nasty people can be to each other. Animal Farm is a quick and disgusting tale about the ultimate selfishness of humanity, and I reach for it when I want to be creeped out.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in best friends, secrets, and comas?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about best friends, secrets, and comas.

Best Friends Explore 47 books about best friends
Secrets Explore 99 books about secrets
Comas Explore 13 books about comas

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like When the Moon Was Ours, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, and Tell Me Everything if you like this list.