The Best YA Crime Thriller Books of the New Decade
When our idea of adventure and thrill becomes limited to staying at home, there is nothing better but a series of books that will keep you on the edge of your seats – or your cozy, comfy bed if you want. Books have always been a gate to other places and even other worlds. With writing styles that make us feel as if we’re in that alternate reality, getting lost has never felt so satisfying.
Ready your heart and warm up your minds! You’re in for a mind-boggling, exhilarating treat. Pair up your quiet, uneventful nights with your favorite comfort food, thick blankets, and a stash of unputdownable YA novels because you will keep turning the pages on one after another. Not sure where to start? Worry not because here are the best crime thriller books of 2020 and 2021 with YA protagonist!
Bone Flake: A Poetic Maniac, by Keith Beasley
Protagonist Bone Flake finds himself in jail after getting into trouble with the wrong peers. In exchange for getting released, he undergoes training and was granted superpowers to fight drug-dealing groups all over the city. The catch? He realizes he cannot possibly survive without his newly given powers.
Upon meeting the love of his life, Bone starts to appreciate the new life he’s been given. However, after witnessing how the very people he has been working for murder his lover’s father, Bone decides to go against them and take all of them down.
Will Bone be able to triumph against the people who gave him a new chance at life – with superpowers and all? Find out in Beasley’s thrilling debut novel that combines modern poetry with epic storytelling.
Escape Room, by Maren Stoffels
Escape rooms sound great until you realize you are trapped in there with no possible ways of actually getting out. Alissa, Miles, Mint, and Sky just want to spend a fun night in an escape room where the rules are simple: get locked in, find clues, and solve puzzles under 60 minutes to be freed. But what if the Game Master has other plans?
Realizing that the Game Master has no intention of letting them escape, the four have no choice but to scrape the fun and take everything inside that room seriously. Will they be able to find the way out or will they remain captives of the escape room? Will the four also be able to break free of the secrets they hold so dear?
Funeral for A Friend, by Brian Freeman
Best-selling author Brian Freeman returns with another captivating addition to the well-known Stride Series. Moments before his death, Jonathan Stride’s best friend tells him he is safe because he has found a body in the Deeps and buried it. It’s all in the past, and the past is back to haunt him. Seven years ago, a reporter following a rape case against a politician went missing and everyone believed he drowned in the Deeps.
Stride knows all this but refuses to give any extra information making him the primary suspect. With his wife, Serena, he sets out on clearing his name but even their private investigation leads to one conclusion: he is the murderer. All signs point to him and he knows it. How can Stride prove his innocence?
The Girl’s I’ve Been, by Tess Sharpe
As a con-artist's daughter who victimizes criminal men, Nora O’Malley knows how to deal with bad guys. It’s probably even easier than having to deal with the awkwardness created by having her ex, Wes, walk in on her kissing stint with her new girlfriend, Iris. It gets worse because the three of them have to meet the next morning to deposit fundraiser money at the bank. So much for trying to be normal.
But when bad comes to worse, it will simply not stop until the worst happens. At the bank, Nora becomes a heist hostage. To Nora, being held hostage probably isn’t the worst thing to happen – having to show off her unwanted skills as a child of a con-artist to save herself and her friends probably is.
The Last Resort, by Susi Holliday
When an offer is too good to be true – like an all-expense-paid private island retreat to become product testers of Timeo Technologies, why would you refuse? Amelia sure didn’t and with six other people she doesn’t know about, their excitement turns to fear as a memory-tracking device forced unto them begins to uncover their guilty past.
With the shocking reveal of each of their secrets, the seven split up and begin fighting against each other. There is no escape from the island, and none from their guilt as well. As time ticks reaching the promised grand end-of-day party, Amelia realizes that her last resort to survive is to be the last one to remain standing. Holliday’s The Last Resort will keep you on your toes.
The Key to Fear, by Kristin Cast
In a world where touching is strictly against the rules, keep your hands to yourself or be executed. Nurse Elodie is the perfect follower of the Key Corporation – humanity’s ruler and savior for the past fifty years against a deadly virus transmitted through touch. But perfection is an illusion and even Elodie finally questions Key's intentions as she sets out to find a missing terminal patient under her safe-keeping.
Enter Aiden and his lawful chaotic rebellion. When the two of them meet, rules are bound to be a break and the Key Corporation that once kept them safe begins to hunt them down. Cast explores a reality too familiar for humanity to ignore in this first book of the Key series, The Key To Fear.
The Black Kids, by Christina Hammonds Reed
April of 1992 in Los Angeles, four officers of LAPD get acquitted after almost killing a black man. Streams of violent protests start and Ashley Bennett, a high school senior, struggles to pretend that all is well despite everything and everyone around her falling apart; despite her being black.
A rumor surrounding her fellow black classmate, LaShawn Johnson, is helped spread by her own best friends and Ashley finally finds herself at a crossroad. The rumor could put another black life in danger and she was the one who started it.
The Black Kids by Reed puts the serious issue of racial discrimination into the light once again. Mixed with a 90s high school drama, it is a sensational and interesting read even for younger audiences.
None Shall Sleep, by Ellie Marney
Emma Lewis and Travis Bell are more than just teenagers, they are FBI’s interviewers who are tasked to retrieve information from juvenile murderers. Two unseasoned investigators that murderers would find interesting to divulge their secrets to – what a promising team of investigators, right? But when the FBI puts them on the active case of a serial killer targeting teenagers, the duo realizes they need help.
Teenage sociopath Simon Gutmunsson is an infamous incarcerated murderer. Unfortunately for Travis, he is also the only one who can help them on the case and Emma is quick to be the channel between the FBI and him. However, Simon had other plans in mind besides helping. None Shall Sleep is another unputdownable psychological thriller that will keep you awake at night.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, by Holly Jackson
Jackson presents a story of investigation obsession through this YA crime thriller A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. For her final senior project, Pip decides to dig around the Andie Bell case that happened five years ago.
Andie was a popular senior, murdered by her boyfriend Sal Singh who committed suicide right after. Pip wonders how a guy who has been so kind to her can be a murderer and she needs to know the truth.
As Pip discovers a trail full of dark secrets, she can’t help but see through the end of it. However, someone in her town is keen on not letting her know the truth and soon, danger awaits her. Together with Pip, let the trail lead you to the truth of Andie and Sal’s case.
Ali Cross, by James Patterson
Best-selling author James Patterson brings another feast to the table with Ali Cross, the story of the youngest son of the famous detective Alex Cross who needs to put up his detective game on and find the whereabouts of his missing best friend.
Ali cannot seek help from his father who is on trial for something he’s innocent about and the only thing he gets from him is a warning not to get involved. But Ali is desperate and he won’t stop until he finds Gabe.
As he works on his best friend’s case, Ali’s neighborhood becomes a hotspot for theft and even his home becomes at risk. Will Ali’s desperate attempt at being a detective save everyone he cares for?
Teen life mixed with thrilling cases and risky situations brings you stories that will take you maybe not out of your house, but out of your comfort zone. These eye-opener stories are a mirror of the society filled with conflicted souls just trying to get by and perhaps make a difference. With the best crime thriller books of 2020 and 2021 with YA protagonist, your inner adventurer will have a blast.