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MP!’s definitive list of the all-time greatest YA thrillers

Much intense. Very wow!


Stop messing around. This is the big one. THE list. We’re going out all guns blazing, hearts pounding, muscles tense and feeling all kinds of emotions as we list the all-time greatest YA thrillers. Ever.

Having just read ‘The Cruelty’ by Scott Bergstrom we were inspired by its adrenaline and its action. Gwendolyn Bloom joins the ranks of the badass heroines in YA as she does dark and unimaginable things to get her kidnapped CIA father back.

Think the film ‘Taken’ but reversed.

She has new very particular set of skills and she will find you. And she will kill you. The lengths she is willing to push herself to are really fascinating to watch as events unfold on the page.

So yeah, first up is ‘The Cruelty’ by Scott Bergstrom.

Gwendolyn is forced to leave her old self behind if she wants to do whatever it takes to get her father back. New York, Paris, Berlin, Prague. This book also gives you a strange kind of wanderlust… You’ll just want less blood during your sightseeing.

‘The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer’ by Michelle Hodkin

Just like Gwendolyn, Mara finds it in herself to do what needs to be done, regardless of how… gritty it might get. A little bit dark, a dash of the paranormals, and very much psychological, and just SO addictive.

‘Survive the Night’ by Danielle Vega

A party in a subway goes hella wrong when a body is found. And then the rest of the revellers find themselves trapped down there, seemingly no way out. They’re being hunted. EEKS!

‘Kill Kiss Vanish’ by Jessica Martinez

Valentina no longer exists. Privy to a violent crime she uses it as her opportunity to disappear. But her past won’t leave her alone. It doesn’t matter that she changed her name. Just like Gwendolyn in ‘The Cruelty’, Valentina will have to answer he past eventually.

‘Out of Control’ by Sarah Alderson

Witness to a brutal murder, 17 year old Leva is forced to do a runner when she realises she’s also become a target. Edge-of-your-seat action as Leva and Jay try to outsmart those with the bullets.


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‘Black Ice’ by Becca Fitzpatrick

An unexpected blizzard turns a mountain backpacking trip into a nightmare. Seeking shelter in a cabin isn’t the best option, but it’s all she’s got. Shame the two guys in said cabin are a bit dodge. Secrets, danger, and a little bit sexy. Oh yas.

‘One of Us is Lying’ by Karen M. McManus

A 2017 release that’s already got some buzz about it. Five strangers walk into detention and only four leave. Wut? Yeah. Exactly. We wanna know how and why too!

‘Dangerous Boys’ by Abigail Haas

Three teens enter an abandoned estate, but only two emerge from the smouldering wreck it becomes. It’s the way this story is told that has you biting your nails and questioning everything. Hats off to Haas.

‘Dangerous Girls’ by Abigail Haas

The shocking predecessor of ‘Dangerous Boys’ it’s the kind of book you have to hold back on fangirling over because you don’t want to give the game away. Tense and exciting, it’s the ending to this book that will leave in absolute awe.

‘Hysteria’ by Megan Miranda

More psychological than pure thriller but we’ve included it because there are some sections of this book that will make your heart race and even make your toes curl with tension. Why did Mallory kill her boyfriend?

‘With Malice’ by Eileen Cook

Jill wakes up in a hospital stitched up, bandaged up, and reeling from a car accident. Turns out it wasn’t so much of an “accident” though. Oops. The media swarms and feeds of the story, happy to frame her as a sociopath. But she didn’t do it. Did she?

‘All Fall Down’ by Ally Carter

If you want something thrillery but a bit more peppy and upbeat then Ally Carter is your woman. Fun, but not lacking in action or explosive moments.

‘Dangerous Lies’ by Becca Fitzpatrick

Stella is sent to the middle of nowhere for her own protection. New name. New home. New life? Well… The past does have a habit of coming back to bite you on the arse. Can she really trust everyone to be who they say they are when she’s lying too?

‘Soul Beach’ by Kate Harrison

Receiving an email from your dead sister must be a hoax, right? It must be impossible. But what is it isn’t? Especially when they seem to know things only she would know…

‘Blackbird’ by Anna Carey

It’s a race against time for a girl to figure out who she is and also to stay alive. People want her dead and seem set on making that happen.

A little different to the other titles on this list. We’ve included it because of the dark and sometimes graphic nature of the deeds Lane witnesses and even carries out. Similar to Gwendolyn from ‘The Cruelty’, she does things that others wouldn’t ever be able to stomach. For Lane, however, it’s much more of a psychological motivation than anything.

Do you see any faves on this list? What did we miss out that should be here? Tell us in the comments!

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Written by Sarah Clare

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Sarah is the Lead Writer and Design Queen here at Maximum Pop! Sarah holds an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University, and a BA in Creative Writing with English Literature from Marjon (BIG UP THE MARJON MASSIVE!). Sarah joined MP! after seeing an advertisement for writers on Instagram – because where else would a design master find their dream job?

Sarah is currently working on an expose on Draco Malfoy in her spare time. But not if his father hears about it.