At the end of the day, no one gets away with anything, I’ve found.
• Elizabeth George •
Sometimes, it seems like the phrase "YA trend" is an understatement. Topics don't just become popular or frequent in teen lit—they explode.
It's like a game of musical chairs, and when the music stops, everyone wants the same chair. Lately, that chair is the thriller chair, with a dash of paranormal. A paranormal seat cushion, if you will.
It's not as dramatic or strange as vampires and dystopias, but a sizeable chunk of current YA could be categorized as "psychic thriller." The deluge of murder-plus-magic makes the rare realistic thriller stand out even more.
(Why the constant mash-ups in YA? Are teens so disillusioned that authors think they can't write a thriller without the protagonist seeing ghosts, having visions or predicting the future? Is the need for escapism that great? Am I thinking about this too hard?)
Here are a few YA thrillers—paranormal and realistic—to watch for:
Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
Someone in Hannah's peaceful suburban neighborhood is killing girls, but that's not all she's dealing with. Her best friend Lillian, who died six months ago, is still hanging around as a ghost. She also won't stop pressing Hannah to investigate the string of murders. Coming in January.
The Believing Game by Eireann Corrigan
No spooks in this one; it's all psychological. When Greer Cannon is sent off to a rehab center for troubled teens, she falls hard for handsome Addison Bradley. However, Addison's mentor Joshua is unbelievably creepy, but he makes Greer feel understood—until things go completely out of control. Coming December 1.
What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Three teens with XP (an allergy to sunlight) spend all their time roaming around town at night, and when they start practicing Parkour, they accidentally spot what appears to be a murder in progress. Coming in January.
Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman
These twins with an Escape to Witch Mountain-esque bond can feel each other's pain, so when one of them disappears, the other knows something is horribly wrong. The twins can't trust anyone except each other, and our reviewer warns this "might not be a book to read when one is alone in a lonely, dark house."
One of the biggest complaints I hear about YA is that parents have no idea what to expect from a book, whether they'll find it appropriate for their teen or not. These crossover writers are a safe bet (and create potential lifelong readers for that author).
Said James Patterson in a New York Times interview, "The reality is that women buy most books. . . The reality is that it’s easier, and a really good habit, to start to get parents when they walk into a bookstore to say, ‘You know, I should buy a book for my kid as well.’ ”
Harlan Coben's Mickey Bolitar novels pick up where the Myron Bolitar novels left off. Mickey has a lot in common with his Uncle Myron—tall, likes basketball, has great sidekicks, solves thrilling mysteries, etc.—except that he also deals with high school, crushes and bullies. Read our review of the first Mickey Bolitar novel, Shelter.
Have you noticed this trend? Why do teens need a dash of the paranormal with their thrillers?
Series fans are a devoted bunch, following their favorite characters through adventure after adventure and sending new installments to the top of bestseller lists. But what to do while you're waiting for the next book?
In the spirit of book fortunes, here are mystery series recommendations based on taste, from cozies to police procedurals to Nordic noir. In each case, we take a wildly popular series and offer a few suggestions for series that are newer or lesser known.
If you like the forensic technology in Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta series, try . . .
• The Dr. Claire Waters series by Neal Baer and Jonathan Green, starring forensic psychiatrist Claire Waters and NYPD detective Nick Lawler. Book #1, Kill Switch, is a break-neck story about a serial killer's rampage.
• Jefferson Bass's Body Farm series, starring forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Brockton. Whodunit columnist Bruce Tierney called the most recent installment, The Inquisitor's Key, "highly original."
• Andrea Kane's Forensic Instincts series, about a crew of experts "working just a smidgeon outside the law" who solve near-impossible crimes.
If you like Michael Connelly's police procedurals about LAPD detective Harry Bosch, try . . .
• The brand-new Bell Elkins series by Julia Keller, which focuses on the prosecuting attorney in a small town in West Virginia. We loved book #1, A Killing in the Hills, which starts with a bang when three men are murdered in a coffee shop.
• Owen Laukkanen's Stevens and Windermere series, about an FBI special agent and a Minnesota state investigator. Book #2, Criminal Investigator, comes out on March 21, 2013.
If you like Elizabeth George's series about Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley, try . . .
• Louise Penny's Canadian whodunits about Chief Inspector Gamache and his homicide department in Quebec. The latest installment, The Beautiful Mystery, is out this month.
• The excellent police procedurals about the Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French. We loved #4, Broken Harbor—our Top Pick in Fiction for August.
If you like Lilian Jackson Braun's lighthearted "The Cat Who" series of cozy mysteries, try . . .
If you like Sue Grafton's books starring feisty sleuth Kinsey Milhone, try . . .
• Laura Levine's series about wisecracking detective Jaine Austen. We liked Pampered to Death, a clever sendup of health spas. (The victim is strangled with spa-healthy kelp!) Look for Death of A Neighborhood Witch in September.
• Kate White's Bailey Weggins mysteries, about a "smart, savvy, sexy" amateur sleuth.
If you like Stieg Larsson's edgy Millennium Trilogy, try . . .
• Jo Nesbo's gritty series about Oslo investigator Harry Hole.
• Swedish author Hakan Nesser's Chief Inspector van Veeteren series, which Bruce Tierney calls an "absolute must."
• Lars Kepler's Detective Inspector Joona Linna series (also Swedish). Book #2, The Nightmare, came out in July. BookPage contributor Sukey Howard called it "crime fiction with real depth."
• Taylor Stevens' Vanessa Michael Munroe books, which have an assassin-heroine who will remind you more than a little of Lisbeth Salander.
If you like Elizabeth Peters' series about Egyptologist Amelia Peabody, try . . .
• Charles Finch’s atmospheric Victorian mystery series about Parliament member/amateur detective Charles Lenox. BookPage review Barbara Clark called A Burial at Sea an "expertly written adventure." Look for A Death in the Small Hours in November.
• Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series, romantic stories about spies in 19th-century Britain.
• Tasha Alexander's historical mysteries about 19th-century English sleuth Lady Emily.
What series do you love?
By the way, if women's fiction series are more your thing, this week's Monday Contest highlights Susan Wiggs' Lakeshore Chronicles series. (You can enter to win 10 books!)
I wouldn't shy away from it if I felt that I had a compelling story to tell in a location that really worked for me. . . Location is crucial to my books. I've been careful to go to places to make sure that I am going to feel that mystical or visceral connection that allows me to say yes, this is it, this is the place I'm going to write about.
George fans: Will you read The Edge of Nowhere? The book will be published by Viking Children's, and currently there is no set pub date.