YA Mystery and Thriller Novels About Vacations Gone Wrong

Shattered by James Patterson

Nothing could tear Detective Michael Bennett away from his new bride—except the murder of his best friend. NYPD master homicide investigator Michael Bennett and FBI abduction specialist Emily Parker have a history. When she fails to show at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC, Bennett ventures outside his jurisdiction. The investigation he undertakes is the most brilliant detective work of his career…and the most intensely personal. A portrait begins to emerge of a woman as adept at keeping secrets as forging powerful connections. A woman whose enemies had the means and the motives to silence her —and her protectors.

One of my favorite niche genres of books to read are “you’re on vacation and things go sideways.” There’s something a bit unsettling about the idea of being on vacation, relaxing with your guard down, when very bad things start happening — especially if you’re far from home and surrounded by unfamiliar and foreboding settings. Is that a bit dark? Probably. But what can I say — I like reading these types of books so I’ll be prepared when the killer shows up at my cabin in the woods, and I appreciate knowing what to watch out for when I’m in an unfamiliar country so I don’t get framed for a crime I didn’t commit. And bonus — now I know enough to never, ever set foot on a cruise ship and be deeply suspicious of an invitation to an exclusive island. Boring vacations are much more my speed IRL, but give me all the jaw-dropping twists in my fictional vacation getaways!

So whether you’re heading out on vacation this summer and need something terrifying and suspenseful to read, or you just want to reassure yourself that staycations are the best and safest option, pick up any one of these YA books about vacations and trips gone horribly awry!

Girl Overboard cover

Girl Overboard by Sandra Block

Izzy is on a cruise to Bermuda, and to be honest, she’s a bit bored…until she meets Jade. Jade is an outgoing daredevil, and she shows Izzy what it means to have fun. But Izzy also gets the sense that Jade is hiding something. So when she disappears and investigators claim she must have accidentally fallen overboard, Izzy is disturbed and suspicious. Could her new friend have been hiding something? And could her secrets have gotten her killed?

the woods are always watching book cover

The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins

Neena and Josie have finally survived high school together, but now they face starting college two thousand miles apart. They head out to Pisgah National Forest for one last trip together, a three-day hike. But when an accident sends them stumbling off path, they find themselves in a waking nightmare that has them questioning whether or not their friendship can withstand this terror…and if they can escape with their lives.

when i am through with you by stephanie kuehn

When I Am Through With You by Stephanie Kuehn

When Ben sets off on a school trip, he’s actually looking forward to it. But things go wrong, and a girl ends up dead. Ben finds himself in jail for her death, and he’s got nothing but time to tell his side of the story, recounting the entire experience and why he’s not sorry for what happened. This novels tells you at the outset what happens, but as you read you’ll find that that there is more than one side to every story.

dangerous girls cover

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Anna is more than ready for her spring break trip to Aruba with her boyfriend Tate and best friend Elise, and they plan to live it up. But when Elise is murdered, Anna is arrested for the crime and finds herself trapped in a country not her own, where everyone seems to think she’s guilty. Put on trial by both the authorities and the media, Anna maintains her innocence…but what really happened the night Elise died?

With Malice cover

With Malice by Eileen Cook

Jill was so excited to go to Italy, which promised to be a trip to remember. But then an accident occurred abroad and Jill wakes up six weeks later with no memories of what happened, her leg broken and no clear explanations forthcoming. What happened in Italy has become major news, and some people are saying Jill might be culpable for what happened. If only she could remember what went down…

Never Coming Home cover

Never Coming Home by Kate Williams

Unknown Island is an exclusive resort that’s luxurious, invitation only, and for the under 21 set. When the resort opens, they invite 10 of the hottest teen influencers to the island in order to kick off their launch with a splash, and the world eagerly awaits their content. But what these influencers don’t know is that they were invited for what they keep off the camera…and it’s going to all come out at Unknown Island. The only thing that’s not certain is whether or not these teens will make it home.

Lord of the Fly Fest cover

Lord of the Fly Fest by Goldie Moldavsky (August 30)

Rafi Francisco is a true crime podcaster hoping for a big scoop to elevate her profile, so when she scores an invite to a music fest at an exclusive Caribbean island where a famous musician with a missing girlfriend is set to perform, she becomes bent on securing an interview. But this festival and the island are not what they appear, and soon a trip of a lifetime becomes a fight for her life.

the getaway book cover

The Getaway by Lamar Giles (September 20)

Jay and his family live at Karloff Country, an exclusive resort where people come to forget about the troubles of the outside world. It’s a pretty great life and Jay loves his job at the water park, until one of Jay’s friends and her family disappear without explanation. And when new families arrive and don’t return home, he and his crew know something sinister is going on and become determined to get to the truth.

Want more mystery and thriller YA books to add to your TBR? Check out our round up of some of the best new diverse YA mysteries!