End of August 2019
I am at the point in my reading where I want to read some different genres. Maybe it is because I have read some bad Young Adult novels lately or because nothing but adult romances have caught my attention or maybe I am just in a reading slump.
At the SoCal bookswap I ended up with a thriller and I chose a thriller for my first Book of the Month pick (use this link to get a free add on book if you sign up) and I figured I would document my experience reading thrillers. I was also inspired by this video by BooksandLala where she reads all the thrillers nominated for the 2018 Goodreads choice awards. I love Lala’s creativity and she has inspired me to be more creative with blogging. If you like Booktube, check her out.
I don’t read thrillers. Mainly because I am a major wimp and get scared easily. My favorite thriller is a YA book by Kara Thomas, Little Monsters. I read and was neutral towards her sophomore book, The Cheerleaders, which we reviewed on the blog. See the review here. I read Girl on the Train a million years ago and remember not being super impressed with it. I did enjoy reading it, but only gave it three stars.
I wanted to write this post to document my thriller experience. It was written like a diary and I wrote all of these mini reviews right after I finished (or DNF’d) the books.
Also, I do include trigger warnings, but it is not a comprehensive list. So, if you have triggers please be mindful before starting any of these books.
In total I read six thrillers from the beginning of September until now. Which I think is pretty impressive. I DNF’d one and I actually enjoyed four!
This is going to be a long post, so buckle up and if you last until the end, I applaud you!
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
Date read: September 1, 2019
This one kept me very engaged and I was flying through the pages. I did get a little creeped out, but I didn’t think it could be supernatural, so I wasn’t *that* freaked out. I kind of had no idea where this one was going and although it kept me engaged, I wasn’t super anxious to figure out what happened. I was let down by the ending, but I did really like the letter format. I am glad I read it and exposed myself to this genre again, but I am not sure if thrillers are for me at this point. Also, I’m glad I read my first BOTM before my second one came in the mail!
Her Father’s Secret by Sara Blaedel, translated by Mark Kline
Dates Read: September 9, 2019
First of all, I was sent this book by the publisher (Grand Central Publishing) in exchange for an honest review. Sadly, it was not for me and I only got to page 76. The book is translated from Danish (I think) and it is not a seamless translation. In one paragraph, they refer to two different women as “she” which was confusing. I also am not really sure what the mystery was? The dust jacket said something about a woman dying, but I never read her death. I will say I enjoyed when they mentioned kringle from Racine, Wisconsin which is where my family gets kringle when we visit family. But that was the only thing I liked. Well and the mentioning of buying coffins at Costco because my coworker had just brought that up too.
Since I am indecisive and can’t decide which book to pick up next, I also got four thrillers from the library I did a twitter poll. As you can see, Final Girls by Riley Sager got the most votes, so I picked that one up next!
Final Girls by Riley Sager
Dates Read: September 22, 2019 – September 23, 2019
Tw: suicide & graphic violence
While Reading: I am about 100 pages in and am enjoying it so far. I’m a bit of a scaredey cat for thrillers and am getting a little freaked out reading this, but it’s fast paced and I’m curious to see how it all unfolds.
After Finishing: I really liked this one. Even though it mildly traumatized me because I’m overly paranoid and now I am just more paranoid. This book is intense. I don’t want to say it keeps you guessing because there are not a bunch of big reveals, but at the end I was surprised. (Also, I called a major plot twist in the beginning, but THEN FORGOT about it until the event happened and was like OMG I was right!) Overall, this one kept me engaged and I enjoyed reading it. It was a good book, but I am still not convinced that I like thrillers or even want to pick up another one.
The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
Dates Read: September 25, 2019- September 28, 2019
TW: domestic violence
While Reading: I’m so bored. I’m 50 pages in and if I did not know this was a thriller this could be a romance/contemporary fiction/women’s fiction etc. Tbh have considered skipping to the end. People have told me to keep going because the ending is great so I am slogging through.
After Finishing: This book has three parts which I thought was a good way to divide the story and I was curious to see how this all wrapped up, but that is about all I liked about it. I also guessed a major twist like right away which is cool, but also was disappointing because I felt like I was supposed to be blown away by a twist in this. I also guessed another twist in this. If you don’t believe me ask my dad!! Overall this bored me and if I did not know it was a thriller, I would have thought it was just a fiction book and a boring one at that. Also, if I know a book has a lot of twists and the cover flap is telling me to “assume nothing” then I’m going to be suspicious of everyone and everything. Overall, I just was not impressed with this one and I have no idea why there is any hype around it. I am proud of myself for not DNFing this one because boy did I want to at times.
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Date Read: September 29, 2019
TW: abortion, violence, suicide (off page, but mentioned)
Okay follks! We have FINALLY found a thriller that I liked! I did enjoy Final Girls but was a bit too disturbed by it to consider it an enjoyable read. Ruth Ware writes gripping books. I could not put this one down and read it in like three sittings. I’m not going to go into details about what the book is about because well, Goodreads, and I think going into this one blind would be good (if you’re interested in it). What I liked about this one is that is has a central mystery, but there still is a plot. Creepy things do happen and there is suspense, but STUFF HAPPENS which was a nice change of pace. We also see interesting character dynamics which is something I love to see in books. The only reason I knocked .5 off, is that it didn’t feel like a five star book to me. I really enjoyed it and am thankful I finally found a thriller I liked, it did not stand out as a novel, as a thriller yes.
I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan
Date Read: October 6, 2019
TW: Fatphobia, Sexism
If you can get past the sexism, fatphobia, and a few other problematic things, this was actually addicting and quite enjoyable. The writing isn’t great, but it goes v quickly. Also, this was published in 1973 and you can tell (v dated). But I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I don’t want to say that I was surprised by something, but…
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
Date Read: October 19, 2019
TW: agoraphobia, anxiety, depression, substance abuse/alcoholism, murder, death, grief
To be honest I started this book a week before the “date read” but only got 20 pages in. This is a slow build and it took me 100 pages to start caring about the plot at all. The inciting incident does not happen until 70 or so pages into the novel. It was too slow, and I could not connect to the main charter. Also, not much happens so I was bored. However, I can see why people like this novel. It is well written and features a complex main character. I do not like unreliable narrators, but that is what we have here. The mystery was also decent, but I just could not get myself invested in the story. I enjoyed the last 100 pages the most since stuff was going down at that point. This also reminded me of Girl on the Train, not in a bad way, but just a similar vibe/situation. Overall, I just could not connect to the novel and thus did not enjoy it.
End of October 2019
I still don’t think thrillers are for me and probably will not seek them out. That being said, I do see myself picking up the rest of Ruth Ware’s books. Like romance novels (which you know I read a lot of) thriller repeat lots of the same themes and tropes. However, whereas I typically don’t mind seeing the same tropes over and over in romance novels, in the thrillers I did mind and I found myself bored if I thought I knew what the twist was. I tend to prefer characters driven plots and thus liked the thrillers better where I liked the characters and knew or thought they were innocent. I am not a fan of the unreliable narrator trope which is present in a lot of thrillers. Overall, I think I am going to stick to mysteries which might have a bit of a thriller/horror vibe rather than straight up thrillers. This experiment was fun (for the most part) and I am glad I took it on.
Thanks for reading this massive post!