The best YA thrillers with twist endings that you won’t see coming

Why am I passionate about this?

Before writing about flawed, funny teens with big hearts, I spent ten years teaching them English. I completed the Stanford University online novel writing program in 2019. Though I’m an East Coast girl at heart, I currently live just outside Denver, Colorado with my husband and two daughters, who thankfully, are all as obsessed with books as I am. 


I wrote...

Live Your Best Lie

By Jessie Weaver,

Book cover of Live Your Best Lie

What is my book about?

In Live Your Best Lie, 16 y/o influencer Summer Cartwright has it all—beauty, fame, and a book deal—or at least, she curates that image for the world. But when her bestie, her ex, her frenemy, and her wannabe find her dead at her Halloween party, they’re forced to admit she was murdered. Everyone is a suspect, and all of them have motive. Who doesn’t? Summer may have been #goals, but she was keeping dangerous secrets about everyone close to her…secrets that, if exposed, could ruin lives. And anyone is capable of anything if they’re desperate enough. 

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of We Were Liars

Jessie Weaver Why did I love this book?

We Were Liars follows Cadence Sinclair of the picture-perfect Sinclair family as she returns to her family’s island off the coast of New England for the first time since her tragic accident a few summers before. Because her memory is faulty post head wound, she doesn’t remember her accident. As Cady puts together the pieces, so do we. Read if you love unreliable narrators, prose so strange and lovely you’ll want to frame it for you wall, and old money families with secrets.

By E. Lockhart,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked We Were Liars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

The TikTok phenomenon and #1 New York Times bestseller.

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends-the Liars-whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honouree E. Lockhart.

Read it.

And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

Don't miss FAMILY OF LIARS, the thrilling prequel to We Were Liars, published in May 2022.


Book cover of A Good Girl's Guide to Murder

Jessie Weaver Why did I love this book?

In A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, everyone in Pippa’s small town knows that five years ago, Sal Singh murdered Andie Bell. But Pippa disagrees. For her senior project, she sets out to unravel the cold case of Andie’s murder. Narrated using media like police interviews, newspaper articles, and Pippa’s project notes, this book asks the question: Is something true just because everyone believes it? Read if you’re a justice seeker who loved Nancy Drew as a kid or if you’d totally open the locked basement door in a scary movie even though you know it’s a bad idea. 

By Holly Jackson,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked A Good Girl's Guide to Murder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

THE MUST-READ MULTIMILLION BESTSELLING MYSTERY SERIES• Everyone is talking about A Good Girl's Guide to Murder! With shades of Serial and Making a Murderer this is the story about an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you'll never expect.

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can't shake the feeling that there was more…


Book cover of All the Best Liars

Jessie Weaver Why did I love this book?

In All the Best Liars, money and privilege drive a wedge between three childhood besties in desert California. Readers know from the beginning that the book ends in flames…and that one of the point-of-view characters gets blamed, one gets away, and the third dies. You’d think that having that information would make the book predictable and boring. Not so. Read if you love morally gray characters and want to watch the world burn. 

By Amelia Kahaney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All the Best Liars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Amelia Kahaney's All the Best Liars is a dark, modern psychological thriller and coming-of-age story about obsession, manipulation, and the intensity of those first friendships that take hold of you and never let go

Tic-tac-toe, three girls in a row. Nine years old and inseparable. Friends for life, or so they think . . .

Best friends Syd, Rain, and Brie grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in the stifling California desert, desperately wishing for a way out.

When a deadly fire is set two weeks before the end of high school, nothing will ever be the…


Book cover of All Your Twisted Secrets

Jessie Weaver Why did I love this book?

In All Your Twisted Secrets, a group of teens is invited to a banquet to recognize exceptional students. However, when they arrive, they soon realize they’re locked alone in the banquet room with a single task: kill one of their own, or the villain will blow up the room, killing them all. This book takes place in a single hour, but uses extensive flashbacks to develop the characters’ motivations and to reveal the villain. Read if you love locked-room mysteries and thought the premise of Saw was cool but hated all the blood and guts. 

By Diana Urban,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked All Your Twisted Secrets as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A thrilling debut, reminiscent of new fan favorites like One of Us Is Lying and the beloved classics by Agatha Christie, that will leave readers guessing until the explosive ending.

"Welcome to dinner, and again, congratulations on being selected. Now you must do the selecting."

What do the queen bee, star athlete, valedictorian, stoner, loner, and music geek all have in common? They were all invited to a scholarship dinner, only to discover it's a trap. Someone has locked them into a room with a bomb, a syringe filled with poison, and a note saying they have an hour to…


Book cover of I Must Betray You

Jessie Weaver Why did I love this book?

Set in Communist Romania, I Must Betray You follows Cristian Florescu, a teenaged boy who, to protect his family, is blackmailed into becoming a spy for the regime. Technically this one is classified as historical fiction, but it has major thriller vibes a’la old-school Bond…if 007 were a kid acting out of self-preservation. Cristian might not be an assassin, but he pushes the limits when he decides to play the game…act the spy while simultaneously working with a group of rebels. Read if you love double agents and trusting no one. 

By Ruta Sepetys,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked I Must Betray You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

A #1 New York Times and National Bestseller!
 
A gut-wrenching, startling historical thriller about communist Romania and the citizen spy network that devastated a nation, from the #1 New York Times bestselling, award-winning author of Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray.

Romania, 1989. Communist regimes are crumbling across Europe. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu dreams of becoming a writer, but Romanians aren’t free to dream; they are bound by rules and force.
 
Amidst the tyrannical dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu in a country governed by isolation and fear, Cristian is blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer. He’s…


You might also like...

Evil Alice and the Borzoi

By DK Coutant,

Book cover of Evil Alice and the Borzoi

DK Coutant Author Of Evil Alice and the Borzoi

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Professor Cross Cultural Psychologist Dog Lover Traveler Reader

DK's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Cleo Cooper, a cross-cultural psychology professor, is living the dream on the Big Island of Hawaii. With ocean-dipping weekends, she enjoys her dog, her job, and her boyfriend Ben - until the day she’s on a research vessel and a dead body is caught in the dragline.

The police determine it is murder and set their sights on a gentle former student, Kai. It doesn’t take much urging from Kai’s auntie for Cleo to investigate. But Ben grows distant, and Cleo’s dog grows ill. A couple of accidental deaths later, and someone makes an attempt on her life.

What happened to Cleo’s life in paradise? Can she discover the true killer? Can she stop the killer before the killer stops her?

Evil Alice and the Borzoi

By DK Coutant,

What is this book about?

Paradise is shaken when the body of a young woman is dragged onto a university research vessel during a class outing in Hilo Bay. Cleo Cooper is shaken when she finds her favorite student is on the hook for the murder. Danger lurks on land and sea as Cleo and her friends are enticed to search for the true killer. In between paddling, swimming, and arguing with her boyfriend, Cleo discovers all is not what it seems on the Big Island of Hawaii. But will she figure out the truth before she becomes the next victim?


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in secrets, revolutions, and amnesia?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about secrets, revolutions, and amnesia.

Secrets Explore 249 books about secrets
Revolutions Explore 28 books about revolutions
Amnesia Explore 50 books about amnesia