Tag Archives: Thriller

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (Review by James B. ’24)

Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1)Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

TW for the book: Drug Overdose, Murder, Sexual Assault

As Leigh Bardugo’s debut into Adult Fantasy, Ninth House is a stunning dark thriller that takes place on the modern day Yale campus. Be aware that this book may make you question your college apps however, as there is much murder and magic afoot.

The book follows Galaxy (Alex) Stern, a freshman with an unusual ability, through various timelines as she attempts to piece together the details of an oddly familiar murder and figure out how it relates to her mentor’s disappearance. You see, Alex is by no means qualified to study at Yale, but has rather been enlisted by a governing body that oversees the activities of the university’s ancient secret societies. It is through her ability to see ghosts, called Greys in the book, that Alex is recruited as Lethe House’s new Dante, serving under the previous Dante, now Virgil, Daniel Arlington. From a hospital bed after being found overdosed on the scene of a brutal killing, to controlling the magical powers of several groups of entitled rich kids at one of the most prestigious schools in the country, Alex Stern must fight for her life and the promise of a better future.

For the record, I wanted to like this book so badly, and even having finished it I still want to. The world-building is incredible and Leigh Bardugo once again proves that somehow she can still create new magic systems as well as lovable morally-grey characters. Alex Stern had potential to be among my favorite characters I’ve read in fantasy; she’s dynamic, persistent, and brutal while also remaining very human (ever when she is very much not). This book had all the makings to be a favorite and somehow it all just fell flat.

I am by no means a slow reader, but Ninth House took me months to conquer. It’s not that there isn’t plenty of hard-hitting action, but the back and forth between timelines quickly became dizzying. I found myself frustrated that another segment had gone by without answering my biggest questions, and even once they were answered, it didn’t feel satisfying. One of my biggest red flags for a book is whether it makes me question if I, the reader, am reading it incorrectly somehow. Too often I felt I was slipping off the hook, like the line itself was too taut for me to think about anything else.

Having said that, there are some truly gorgeous scenes in this book that stand extremely well on their own, and I think it is worth reading if you have the patience for a lot of unanswered questions. Just be sure to prepare yourself as Ninth House does explore some intense topics that might be upsetting, and that I was frankly unprepared for. —Review by James B. ’24

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He Started It by Samantha Downing (Review by Anika F. ’21)

He Started ItHe Started It by Samantha Downing
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

October has officially begun, and it is finally socially acceptable to start sharing some mystery, thriller, and horror reads. To begin, here is a 2020 release: He Started It, by Samantha Downing, tells the recreation of a childhood road trip by adult siblings Eddie, Beth, and Portia, as instructed by their grandfather’s will. Although they oblige, their relationships reveal avarice, family tensions, and ongoing conflicts as the storyline progresses with the trip.

Personally, I have a criteria when it comes to thrillers. Firstly, and most importantly, the ending needs to be satisfying and make sense based off of the clues revealed along the way. Secondly, the plot leading up to the final twist needs to be captivating enough to hold my interest, maybe through small turns here and there that can introduce some shock value. And if I ever feel like putting the book down mid-read, it is not a good sign.

For these reasons, He Started It truly disappointed me. The events leading up to the final reveal were honestly underwhelming. I thought the ending might save the storyline, but once I reached it, I found myself slightly annoyed. The book provided me no way to piece together the preceding events and how each scene led to the resolution. Nothing made sense.

If you have the time to spare, I suppose you could give it a try. But if not, sit this one out and pick up My Lovely Wife, another one Samantha Downing’s works that will definitely be more worth your time. —Review by Anika. F ’21

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The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher (Review by Hita T. ’23)

The Twisted OnesThe Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Melissa, known to close family and friends as Mouse, only had one job: clean her late grandmother’s house in North Carolina. Her grandmother was unfortunately a hoarder, but she could clean it up. No problem at all. However, in the process, she discovers her late step-father’s journal, which is filled with seemingly nonsensical rants. Mouse is quick to disregard the rambling, chalking it up to his deteriorating health, but when strange happenings start to occur, it becomes increasingly clear that perhaps his journal held more than just the ramblings of an old man. Driven to figure out what’s going on and spooked by an unplanned night stroll (courtesy of her dog Bongo), Mouse begins to uncover secrets in the woods, and the deeper she digs into it, the more terrifying it becomes…
Kingfisher does a brilliant job of spinning a modern take on the folklore of The White People, as it is horrifying yet entertaining at the same time. The narrative is filled with realistic humor and conversations and during the more action packed scenes, the reaction seems to be just right; there is no exaggeration of fear nor is there apathy towards the events. Even though I’m not the most avid horror reader, I absolutely loved this book and would definitely recommend it. —Review by Hita T. ’23

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Pandemic (The Extinction Files Book #1) by A.G. Riddle (review by Saloni S. ’21)

Pandemic (The Extinction Files #1)Pandemic by A.G. Riddle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bioterrorism. We’ve read about it in the news, heard from the TV anchors, but have we truly understood the plausibility of a global pandemic from a bioterrorist attack?

In the seven hundred page science fiction novel Pandemic, the first book in the Extinction series, author A.G. Riddle explores our vulnerability to a pandemic in an interconnected, global world; Conner McClain, head of a group of scientists known as “the Citium”, releases a deadly viral strain deep into the heart of the developing countries of Africa. While these events are taking place, protagonists Desmond Hughes, who is struggling to regain his memories, and Peyton Shaw, an epidemiologist at the CDC, scramble to find the cause and cure of this outbreak before it takes even more lives. This well-researched novel takes us deep into the world of the epidemiologists and public health workers who place themselves in danger in order to save the lives of others.

As the disease spreads across continents infecting and killing millions, Shaw and Hughes unveil treacherous secrets hidden deep inside the core of the Citium and tirelessly work to save the human race and to apprehend the criminals behind this deadly attack. Throughout this engaging novel, Riddle combines science and historic facts with the thrill of an action-packed story, further enthralling the reader. By alternating among different characters’ points of view, the author intimately communicates the heart-wrenching emotions from each stunning revelation, drawing the reader deeper into the storyline. You won’t be able to put this book down.

I read Pandemic on a plane and definitely enjoyed it more than watching movies; the book also makes one appreciate the importance of research and resources invested in the early identification of pathogens and response mechanisms. Overall, Pandemic is a great story and I would definitely recommend this book to a reader who wishes to read an enthralling, informative science fiction novel. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Genome, which will be released in October this year! – Saloni S. ’21

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Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta (review by Catherine H. ’17)

Those Who Wish Me DeadThose Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jace Wilson is fourteen when he sees two professional killers murder a man in front of his eyes. He is then put into a wilderness survival program for teenagers deep in the mountains of Montana in an effort to lose the trail of the killers. There, he must try to live as Connor Reynolds while the police try to track down the killers. When he realizes that the killers have come to him, he must try to escape without letting anyone else get hurt trying to protect him. Each character in this book has such a unique and well-written personality and story that I couldn’t help but like every single one of them, even the two murderers. Michael Koryta successfully unravels this story, allowing the reader to slowly become aware of important facts as the story progresses, and even in the end there are more exciting surprises. I thought this was a thrilling book and I highly recommend it for anyone to read.

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An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris (review by Mr. Silk, Teacher)

An Officer and a SpyAn Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Falling somewhere between history, historical fiction and spy novel, An Officer and a Spy is a fact-based account of the Dreyfus Affair, one of the more troubling times of the French military. When Alfred Dreyfus is accused and convicted of treason, it takes the newly appointed head of the French spy division, Georges Picquart to ferret out the truth. Robert Harris is a master story-teller, and this book is surely a page turner. At times the story seems unbelievable, or, at best, inconceivable, but the reader has to remember that all the events did actually occur. A definite must for anyone who has read and enjoyed Harris or Jean le Carre, or who is interested in French history.

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Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff (review by Akshay B. ’16)

Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War IILost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lost in Shangri-La is the incredible true story of the “Gremlin Special,” which crashed on May 13, 1945, in the uncharted New Guinea region referred to as Shangri-La. Of the original twenty-four officers, only three survived and struggled with their grief and injuries, all while fighting to survive in a harsh and unforgiving jungle surrounded by tribes rumored to be cannibals and Japanese soldiers infamous for their brutality. The narrative’s greatest strength comes from the honest fortitude of the trio, but at the same time Zukoff critiques the Americans for completely altering the way-of-life of the New Guineans. Ultimately, the interaction with the natives mirrors the destructive conflicts between American settlers and Native Americans, in which the latter were at the outset the saviors of colonists but eventually were ruined by them. Thus, though the exterior reality of the rescue tale resounds within the reader, the deeper undertone condemns the methods in which the rescue was achieved. – Akshay B. ’16

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Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot by David Shafer (review by Mr. Anthony Silk)

Whiskey Tango FoxtrotWhiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Do you like books that feed your fear that there is an evil corporation ready to take over the world? If so, you will enjoy Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, a fast-paced thriller that ties NGOs, conspiracy theorists, and self-help gurus together as they try to first unravel and then foil a chillingly subversive plot. The book does take a little while to get started, and after the first 50 pages or so may be asking yourself the title of this book. But if you hold on you’ll find a zippy, and mostly believable ride full of nefarious characters, chases, and lots of clever, well-written dialog. Be warned, though, with 50 pages left you may worry that there is no way it will all get wrapped up, and you’d be right. But like the big blockbuster movies, this one is about the journey, not the destination. Definitely 16+ for lots (and lots) of language and drug/alcohol use (but minimal violence). Mr. Anthony Silk (Harker Teacher)

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Angels and Demons by Dan Brown (review by Kshithija M. "17)

Angels and Demons (Robert Langdon, #1)Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first of several books following the adventures of famous Harvard symbology professor Robert Langdon, Angels and Demons features a race against time as Langdon and his companions attempt to find a canister containing the explosive anti-matter before the Vatican City is destroyed. The book begins when an assassin sent by the Illuminati murders a CERN scientist researching anti-matter; the scientist’s daughter Vittoria Vetra accompanies Langdon as their investigation of the murder leads them to Vatican City. The plot thickens when anti-matter appears to have been placed at the Vatican by the Illuminati and several important cardinals are also missing. Angels & Demons leaves readers racing to keep up with the protagonists as they charge through the Vatican and questioning the truth as the plot twists and turns uncovering more details at every turn. This book is a perfect mix of a mystery and thriller, and both history buffs and action lovers will be left curious and excited for more of Robert Langdon’s adventures after reading this novel. – Kshithija M. ’17

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Inferno by Dan Brown (review by Andrew T. ’17)

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)Inferno by Dan Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fans of Dan Brown will be familiar with the protagonist of Inferno, Robert Langdon, a world renowned professor of symbology with a photographic memory and questionable fashion sense. The book starts with Langdon in a hospital having suffered amnesia in the middle of his latest adventure. After narrowly avoiding an attempt on his life, he is joined by the mysterious Sienna Brooks in order to retrace his steps towards whatever he was looking for in the first place. Inferno features twist after twist leaving the reader not entirely sure who to trust and what really is going on. The ending is clever and memorable long after closing the book. Regardless if they are familiar with Robert Langdon’s previous adventures or not, readers who love action, adventure, history, or clever narrative that keeps them guessing will undoubtedly love this book. – Andrew T. ‘17

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