4 Thrillers for Tweens Before They Get Into the Really Serious Stuff

Nothing pulls you in and gets you hooked like a good thriller. Combine dramatic suspense with a dash of hormonal angst and you’ll get a real page-turner capable of keeping your tween captivated over school breaks, on road trips, or simply when a case of the Mom-I’m-Boreds erupts.

Check out this collection of chilling novels, ranging from classic whodunits to dystopian and gothic thrillers, for some ideas for your 9 to 12-year-old’s reading list:

The Giver

By Lois Lowry

Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly utopian society that aims to eradicate all of the world’s problems through forced “Sameness.” The principle philosophy of Sameness assumes that if no one is able to make choices for themselves, nothing bad can ever happen. There will be no strife or competition, if everyone thinks, acts, and behaves in the same manner to the point of complacency.

Rather than living in the perfect society, however, Jonas’s world is a dystopian one.

The Giver is an elder in the community who holds all of the eliminated memories of emotions people experienced before Sameness was instituted. As the Giver ages, a Receiver is selected to take over.

When Jonas is chosen to become the Receiver, his world is turned upside down. Perhaps everyone deserves to know about these collective memories and should be able to make their own choices. But that can only happen if Jonas can escape to the Elsewhere.

Tweens will be riveted to the book as Jonas learns to be brave, unselfish, and decisive.

The Watcher in the Shadows

By Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Fourteen-year-old Irene moves from Paris to the Normandy coast when her father dies. Irene’s mother has taken a position as housekeeper for Lazarus Jann, a reclusive toymaker and inventor, caring for his enormous estate, which is populated by his countless automatons.

Irene finds a friend in Jann’s cook Hannah, who happens to be her age, and a romance with Hannah’s cousin Ismael, who is as witty as he is charmingly shy.

When a grisly murder takes place in the forest that separates Cravenmoore Manor and Seaview, Irene and Ismael feel they have no choice but to investigate – especially since the victim was their friend. As they discover clues and face terrifying life-and-death situations, the pair learns that the toymaker may not be what he seems.

Although it isn’t a gory tale, this book is best suited for the tween who loves to be scared. The suspense will keep your child reading until the last page.

The Westing Game

By Ellen Raskin

Cagey Barney Northrup carefully selects the tenants who move into the luxurious new Sunset Towers apartment building. Upon the untimely demise of Sam Westing, the millionaire who owns the building, a baker’s dozen of tenants, along with Mr. Westing’s fiancée, the delivery boy, and the doorman, find themselves to be potential heirs to the tycoon’s fortune.

However, there is a catch. Divided into eight teams of two, they’re each given two clues and $10,000 with which they are to attempt to solve Mr. Westing’s murder. The winning team will gain his entire estate.

It doesn’t take long for the group to go from cooperative investigators to competitors who are all suspicious of one another. The tension escalates as the groups encounter dangerous bombs, injuries, and even more deaths. Every time a pair closes in on a suspect, another occurrence proves them wrong. Will they ever solve the murder? Moreover, is anyone really who they claim to be?

The twists and turns of this novel will encourage your tween to try to find the answers and uncover the murderer – if there indeed is a murder to solve.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

By Chris Grabenstein

To say that Kyle Keeley is obsessed with games would be an understatement. Although he adores every type of game, his absolute favorites are the board games created by the world-renowned Luigi Lemoncello.

Yes, games are Kyle’s thing, so when his town’s very first library opens, he’s just not as excited as his book-loving friends. When the kids all write essays in the hopes of being selected as one of a dozen 12-year-olds invited to the library’s grand opening and overnight lock-in, apathetic Kyle writes simply, “Balloons. There might be balloons.” And just like that, Kyle is chosen for the grand opening.

Reminiscent of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the winning children must make their way through the whimsical, wild, wonderful library. The first one to find the exit will become the face of Mr. Lemoncello’s brand.

Tweens who love brain teasers and fantastical places will be captivated by this funny and mysterious adventure.

What are some of your tween’s favorite mysterious adventure books? Share with us!

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Tags : books   chapter books   thrillers   

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