I have a confession. I’ve never read Gone Girl. I heard all the buzz about it and because I wasn’t into thrillers at the time, I spoiled myself on Wikipedia (haha). The first thriller I ever read was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. People were drawing a lot of comparisons to this one and Gone Girl. I personally think they each stand on their own. Gone Girl sounds much more dark and eery.
What I quickly learned is that I don’t like domestic thrillers. After the popularity of The Girl on the Train an influx of domestic thrillers hit the shelves and I steered clear not finding plots that genuinely interested me.
This describes in-detail what the genre is and why I’m not particularly drawn to this type of thriller:
Crime writer Julia Crouch describes “domestic noir” as a story that, “takes place primarily in homes and workplaces, concerns itself largely…with the female experience, is based around relationships and takes as its base a broadly feminist view that the domestic sphere is a challenging and sometimes dangerous prospect for its inhabitants.” – Source
I realize that not all domestic thrillers are about crazy cheating, murderous spouses. I don’t mind thrillers that take place at home or at work as long as it doesn’t revolve around rich and unhappy suburbanites (i.e. the character has a thriving career, the perfect spouse, and live in a mansion but he or she is unhappy so *cheats* and *stab stab stab*). This is an exaggeration of course, but I can’t relate!
However, it seems that many thrillers have an underlying theme about what it means to simply be human and the lengths one will go to hide something. I will attribute The Girl on the Train to my gateway into thriller but I’m happy to have found a mix blend of other types of thriller which I gladly included on this list.
The Girl on the Train by Paul Hawkins (Published: January 13, 2015)
Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…
Goodreads Rating: 3.9 stars
My Rating: 4 stars
I know there were mixed reviews on this one, but it was so well-written and there were themes of motherhood interwoven in the plot that I missed the first time around. The “plot twist” left something to be desired, but the ride was still insane to me. I definitely recommend it.
Dark Matter by Black Crouch (Published: July 26, 2016)
“Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Goodreads Rating: 4.10 stars
My Rating: 4 stars
Dark Matter was such a pleasant surprise! It’s not just a thriller, it’s a sci-fi. It explores themes of other realities and is a psychological mind-f*ck! I throughly enjoyed it. What I liked most is the plot wasn’t your run of the mill “domestic thriller” even though the plot does connect to a marital relationship. I could easily see myself in the main character’s shoes to the point that I questioned my own reality and choices.
Bonfire by Kristen Rytter (Published: November 7th 2017)
With tantalizing twists, slow-burning suspense, and a remote, rural town of just five claustrophobic miles, Bonfire is a dark exploration of the question: can you ever outrun your past?
Goodreads Rating: 3.53 stars
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Bonfire wasn’t perfect, but not because the author is an actress. Although the story suffered from a few debut flaws, I’m still impressed by the overall themes and concepts of this story. The story wasn’t particularly twisty, but definitely suspenseful. The protagonist, Abby Williams, is sharp-witted, observant, and such a cynic. Her character was the strongest aspect of the story.
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (Published: January 2, 2018)
Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.
Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.
What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.
Goodreads Rating: 3.99 stars
My Rating: (To Be Read)
The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager (Published: July 3, 2018)
Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips
In the new novel from the bestselling author of Final Girls, The Last Time I Lied follows a young woman as she returns to her childhood summer camp to uncover the truth about a tragedy that happened there fifteen years ago.
Goodreads Rating: 4.16 stars
My Rating: Currently Reading.
I found this book through the BOTM subscription. One of the panel judges pitched it as The Parent Trap meets Moonrise Kingdom and I was sold.