The best young adult thrillers where escape is not an option

Who am I?

Locked room thrillers are what I like to read and write best. Out of my four published novels, two include locked rooms. Gated takes place in a community with an apocalyptic bunker and Flight 171 takes place on a plane. The characters must face their antagonists head-on because there is no escape. I love that these settings challenge me to dig deep into character and plot inventively. Exposing my characters’ darkest secrets as they face their foes becomes part of the fun. The books I chose for this list all have excellent “locked rooms” and speak to the girl in me who gobbled up Murder on the Orient Express and became instantly obsessed. 


I wrote...

Flight 171

By Amy Christine Parker,

Book cover of Flight 171

What is my book about?

Devon Marsh is haunted by secrets. Like the identity of the person who killed her twin sister in a hit-and-run accident last Halloween. But she’s determined to start fresh when she boards a four-hour flight along with her classmates for their class ski trip. Devon never could have guessed those secrets would re-surface in the most terrifying way when a supernatural creature hijacks their flight and gives the students a deadly ultimatum:

Choose one among them to sacrifice before the end of the flight or the plane will crash. When the creature reveals that one of the teens is responsible for Emily’s death, will Devon stop the creature, or give in to her anger and let revenge take control?

The books I picked & why

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Survive the Night

By Danielle Vega,

Book cover of Survive the Night

Why this book?

The coolly creepy cover of Survive the Night compelled me to pick it up, but I was hooked by the set up: four teen girls at an all-night rave in an abandoned section of New York City’s underground subway system where someone or something is hunting them. It hits all my worst fears: being trapped underground, total darkness, and tunnels filling up with water. Casey, the main character was fresh from rehab, vulnerable, and unsure of where she fits in and her unease with herself and her friends added such a delicious tension to the story. She goes to the rave out of peer pressure but quickly realizes this is a big mistake. This book is an off-the-rails ride with unexpected twists and the sort of scares that made me keep the lights on while I read.  

Survive the Night

By Danielle Vega,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Survive the Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Just back from rehab, Casey regrets letting her friends Shana, Julie, and Aya talk her into coming to Survive the Night, an all-night, underground rave in a New York City subway tunnel. Surrounded by frightening drugs and menacing strangers, Casey doesn't think Survive the Night could get any worse...until she comes across Julie's mutilated body in a dank, black subway tunnel, red-eyed rats nibbling at her fingers. Casey thought she was just off with some guy - no one could hear her getting torn apart over the sound of pulsing music. And by the time they get back to the…


Blood and Salt

By Kim Liggett,

Book cover of Blood and Salt

Why this book?

Anyone who knows me well or has read my first two books knows I’m a sucker for a thriller about a cult. Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett is my young adult Midsommar dream novel. The main character, Ash Larkin, goes looking for the commune her mother escaped only to find herself physically trapped there by the cornfield (and cult) from hell. As a child I used to play hide and seek in cornfields. This book brought me back to those moments spent listening for my friends, worrying that they wouldn’t find me. Kim’s writing is beautiful and lyrical. I will literally read anything she writes. Besides, she has the coolest author bio ever. She spent the eighties singing backup for rock bands. 

Blood and Salt

By Kim Liggett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Blood and Salt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Determined to find her mother when she disappears, Ash follows her to Quivara, Kansas, the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

Her mother is nowhere to be found, but Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town's history of unrequited love, murder, alchemy, and immortality. Charming traditions give way to a string of deaths. And Ash feels herself drawn to Dane, a mysterious, forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

As the community prepares for a ceremony…


Ten

By Gretchen McNeil,

Book cover of Ten

Why this book?

I read a lot of Agatha Christie growing up and Ten by Gretchen McNeil is a modern And Then There Were None with a cast full of snarky teens with secrets stranded on an island with a killer who just might be one of them. I love a good mystery and this one had me at hello. Gretchen knows how to write a good twist and delivers such clever one-liners that I bet she would make an excellent script writer. This is the sort of book that plays in my head like a movie. I read it all in one go and stayed up way too late, but I regret nothing.

Ten

By Gretchen McNeil,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ten as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A smart and terrifying teen horror novel inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, from Get Even author Gretchen McNeil—now a Lifetime Original Movie!

Ten teens. Three days. One killer.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—an exclusive house party on Henry Island. Best friends Meg and Minnie are looking forward to two days of boys, booze, and fun-filled luxury. But what starts out as fun turns twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine. And things only get worse from there.

With a storm raging outside, the teens…


All Your Twisted Secrets

By Diana Urban,

Book cover of All Your Twisted Secrets

Why this book?

The premise of this book had me breathless. I had to read it. In All Your Twisted Secrets six teens are invited to a fancy dinner only to be trapped in the dining room with a bomb. To keep it from exploding, they must administer a syringe full of poison to someone in the group. The teens remind me of John Hughes characters. They are a very Breakfast Club cast of teen archetypes that don’t get along and this makes for such great conflict. And this book examines a question I also explored in my latest novel—if you had to sacrifice someone to survive…could you? Moral quandaries are my kryptonite, and this book has them in spades. Plus, it has a gasp-worthy ending that made me want to re-read it for clues. 

All Your Twisted Secrets

By Diana Urban,

Why should I read it?

2 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…


Even If We Break

By Marieke Nijkamp,

Book cover of Even If We Break

Why this book?

I have been a fan of Marieke Nijkamp ever since I read This Is Where It Ends. She is such a powerful writer. The way she delves into the psychology of her characters had me riveted. Even if We Break is a layered story with a slower pace than the other books I’ve chosen, but the characters feel so real. I found myself thinking about them long after I closed the book. The creepy factor snuck up on me and then sunk its claws in deep. I was unsettled in the best way. It's a step off the beaten path of your standard isolation thrillers, but one I highly recommend taking if why people do the bad things they do is as important to you as how. 

Even If We Break

By Marieke Nijkamp,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Even If We Break as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A shocking thriller about a group of friends who go to a cabin to play a murder mystery game...only to have the game turned against them, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of This Is Where It Ends.

FIVE friends go to a cabin.
FOUR of them are hiding secrets.
THREE years of history bind them.
TWO are doomed from the start.
ONE person wants to end this.
NO ONE IS SAFE.

Five friends take a trip to a cabin. It's supposed to be one last getaway before going their separate ways-a chance to say goodbye to each…


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