Book Reviews

YA Thrillers to End 2023

Are you searching for an obsessive read to end 2023? Something that doesn’t let go and would bump up your reading goal? Then check out these YA Thrillers! Keep reading for mini reviews of And Don’t Look Back, What We Harvest, Those We Drown, People to Follow, and Thin Air.

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What We Harvest by Ann Fraistat

Wren owes everything she has to her home, Hollow’s End, a centuries-old, picture perfect American town. Tourists travel miles to marvel at its miracle crops, including the shimmering, iridescent wheat of Wren’s family farm. Until five months ago.

That’s when the quicksilver mercury blight first surfaced, poisoning the farms of Hollow’s End one by one. It began by consuming the crops–thick, silver sludge bleeding from the earth. Next were the animals. Infected livestock and wild creatures alike staggered off into the woods by day—only to return at night, their eyes, fogged white, leering from the trees.

Then, the blight came for the neighbors.

Wren is among the last locals standing. And the blight has finally come for her, too. Now, the only one she can turn to is the last person she wants to call: her ex, Derek. They haven’t spoken in months, but Wren and Derek still have one thing in common—Hollow’s End means everything to them. Only there’s much they don’t know about their hometown and its renowned miracle crops. And they’re about to discover that miracles aren’t free.

Their ancestors have an awful lot to pay for, and Wren and Derek are the only ones left to settle old debts.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

What We Harvest is perfect if you want a taste of horror. It’s about blight, our necessary reliance on the land, and the ways we will take. What We Harvest is a story that not only sucked me in, but also scratched my brain. I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of harvesting, of reaping what we sow, of taking from the land. It’s about infection and humanity. All the ways we can begin to lose our humanity before first contact and afterwards. When we are afraid, what do we let our fear do to us and our relationships to others? And after we come into contact, what more do we have to lose?

What We Harvest becomes a story about unraveling the mystery and dark secrets of this insular town. Of the secrets buried beneath the soil, the rot that’s only begun, spreading under slumbering nights. It’s one of my new go-to recommendations for YA horror thrillers. Because only in the moments after do our fears and humanity reveal themselves. The monsters we create and become. Find What We Harvest on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

Those We Drown by Amy Goldsmith

It should have been the trip of a lifetime.

When Liv lands an all-expenses-paid opportunity to study aboard luxury cruise ship The Eos for a semester, she can’t believe her luck. Especially since it will offer her the chance to spend time with Will, her ex–best friend, who’s barely spoken to her since the night their friendship changed forever.

But as soon as she steps on board, Liv realizes just how far in over her head she is. With Will, with the rest of the Seamester students—including the brittle and beautiful Constantine, who may be hiding his own ties to The Eos—and most of all, with the Sirens, three glamorous and mysterious influencers who seem to have the run of the ship.

Liv quickly discovers that the only reason she was invited to join the trip is because another girl disappeared shortly after enrolling—and no one seems to know what happened to her. When further disappearances rock the ship and strange creatures begin haunting Liv’s dreams, she wonders: Is The Eos hiding a dark secret in its watery depths?

The truth will come at a price . . . only, how much is Liv willing to pay?


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

The central question of Those We Drown becomes “what would happen if we get what we want?” In this locked room mystery thriller, Those We Drown has an immediate sense of disease. Is it just me or would going on a boat be terrifying? There’s something primordial about the sea, the danger hiding just underneath the waves. And Those We Drown emphasizes these whispering siren calls, the eeriness of darkness on unsettled waves. In Those We Drown there are questions of class, of feeling unease not only on the water but on the boat.

Goldsmith also forces Liv to question what she will do to force herself to belong. To be lulled by the gilded opulence on the high seas. The secrets the rich keep and the hollows they ache to fill with fame, expensive bags, and manipulation. Find Those We Drown on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

And Don’t Look Back by Rebecca Barrow

Harlow Ford has spent her entire life running, caught in her mother’s wake as they flit from town to town, hiding from a presence that Harlow isn’t even sure is real. In each new place, Harlow takes on a new name and personality, and each time they run, she leaves another piece of herself behind.

When Harlow and her mom set off on yet another 3 a.m. escape, they are involved in a car accident that leaves Harlow’s mother fatally wounded. Before she dies, she tells Harlow two things: where to find the key to a safety deposit box and to never stop running. In the box, Harlow finds thirty grand in cash, life insurance documents, and several fake IDs for both herself and her mom—an on-the-run essentials kit. But Harlow also finds a photograph of her mom as a teenager with two other girls, the deed to a house in a town she’s never heard of, and a handful of newspaper clippings discussing the disappearance of a woman named Eve Kennedy, Harlow’s grandmother…relics of a part of Harlow’s life she never knew existed.

With these tantalizing clues about her mother’s secrets and the power to choose her own future for the first time, Harlow realizes she has two choices: keep fleeing her mom’s ghosts or face down the nebulous threat that’s been hanging over her for her entire life.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Rebecca Barrow is a certified thriller queen and I know I can always count on Barrow to deliver ever since Bad Things Happen Here. In And Don’t Look Back it’s a multi-generational story about unraveling secrets. About running from our fears. While there’s this strong core of mystery and thriller, of the eeriness and suspense creeping up on us, there’s this foundation of mothers and daughters. This relationship which can be tangled up with resentment, love, and anger all in one.

Harlow and her mother have this us against the world push and pull relationship. And after her mother dies, Harlow has to figure out who she is without this force driving her. But the secrets are only just getting started. As Harlow sprints towards unraveling these secrets, is she running towards her mother? And Don’t Look Back is about family, survival, and motherhood. It’s about family which will support us when it matters and when the reveal occurs, it’s like a firework. Find And Don’t Look Back on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

Thin Air by Kellie M. Parker

Seventeen-year-old boarding school student Emily Walters is selected for an opportunity of a lifetime—she’ll compete abroad for a cash prize that will cover not only tuition to the college of her choice, but will lift her mother and her out of poverty.

But almost from the moment she and 11 other contestants board a private jet to Europe, Emily realizes somebody is willing to do anything to win. Between keeping an eye on her best friend’s flirty boyfriend and hiding her own dark secrets, she’s not sure how she’ll survive the contest, much less the flight. Especially when people start dying…

As loyalties shift and secrets are revealed, Emily must figure out who to trust, and who’s trying to kill them all, before she becomes the next victim.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Thin Air is like the ultimate locked room scenario. Taking place on one international flight, bodies will hit the floor. When we are so close to getting what we want, but people stand in our way, I guess people will have to die. Thin Air has murder, betrayal, lies, and competition. It’s cut throat. Emily soon finds out she cannot trust anyone, even longstanding friends. That everyone has secrets they are willing to die to protect. When something seems too good to be true, maybe it is?

Thin Air is a fast paced story with plenty of double crossing. With ‘childish’ games, everything here has a deadly twist. While the grand reveal was pretty quick considering the lead up, Thin Air is a fast paced thriller about how we can never outrun our past. Find Thin Air on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

People to Follow by Olivia Worley

Welcome to “In Real Life,” the hot new reality show that forces social media’s reigning kings and queens to unplug for three weeks and “go live” without any filters. IRL is supposed to be the opportunity of a lifetime, watched closely by legions of loyal followers. But for these rising stars–including Elody, an Instagram model with an impulsive streak; Kira, a child star turned fitness influencer; Logan, a disgraced TikTok celeb with a secret; and Max, a YouTuber famous for exposés on his fellow creators—it’s about to turn into a nightmare.

When the production crew fails to show up and one of their own meets a violent end, these nine little influencers find themselves stranded with a dead body and no way to reach the outside world. When they start receiving messages from a mysterious Sponsor threatening to expose their darkest secrets, they realize that they’ve been lured into a deadly game…and one of them might be pulling the strings.

With the body count rising and cameras tracking their every move, the creators must figure out who is trying to get them canceled—like, literally—before their #1 follower strikes again.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

People to Follow begins with influencers, their popularity, and their fears of their secrets coming to light. Because when we all have secrets we are hiding, the stakes aren’t quite the same for everyone. With multiple POVs, everyone has big personalities. We witness the secrets and histories each of them have – and hide. Yet as bodies begin piling up, we immediately wonder what could be the reason? Is someone we know hiding an even bigger secret?

If you love a secluded island and people forced to shed their illusions, People to Follow should be on your TBR. We have the opportunity to see each of their secrets, insecurities, and masks. Everything we hide from friends, strangers, and ourselves. Secrets close in on the pages of People to Follow. And I am still thinking about the ending. Find People to Follow on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.


What is your favorite thriller you’d recommend for 2024?

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