The thriller genre is incredibly vast and involves many sub-genres; mystery-thriller, crime-thriller, horror-thriller, etc. Despite the various sub-genres, the foundation of thrillers remains the same. Suspense is a key aspect in both books and films, as well as the sense of the ‘unknown’. It is rare that the ‘unknown’ is truly known at the end of a novel (the ‘unknown’ can be alluded to but never fully revealed), but readers appreciate this and acknowledge it to be the mark of a good book. Other aspects of the thriller genre can include different narrative perspectives, which provide the reader with a well-rounded view of the plot. Plot twists and cliffhangers are especially effective in making the genre so addictive and captivating, as it leaves the readers wanting more after the novel has finished.
The thriller genre has evolved immensely after originating from Homer’s Odyssey, which is regarded as an “early prototype” for the genre, and has reemerged with newer defining features. Modern day thrillers are now popularised to the extent where books are adapted into films very shortly after their release. A good example of this would be Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, a successful mystery-thriller where Nick Dunne, a teacher, becomes a suspect in his wife’s disappearance. The first half of the novel cleverly uses narratives from both Nick and Amy, his wife, to give the readers more of an insight into their marriage. As the novel progresses, readers find it harder to trust both Nick and Amy, as the plot twist is revealed. Flynn published this novel in 2012 and received incredibly positive feedback and shortly after, it was revealed that the novel would be adapted into a film, which was released in 2014. The film was also very successful, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as Nick and Amy Dunne.
Gone Girl was one of the first novels that introduced me to the thriller genre, and by extension, to Gillian Flynn. Her writing style is impeccable and her novels never fail to leave me shocked by the end. If you’ve never read anything by Flynn before, and Gone Girl hasn’t piqued your interest as much as I’d want it to, I would suggest Sharp Objects. A less intense read and more of a crime-thriller, but it still contains the classic Flynn style of writing, with an abundance of plot twists and very surprising revelations. However, if you’ve already read Gone Girl and loved it, try reading Into the Water by Paula Hawkins. Hawkins is also a notorious author of the thriller genre, who is well known for writing The Girl on the Train.
Other recommendations: Misery by Stephen King, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson.