Books with unexpected plot twists never fail to keep us up all night. As page turners of the highest order, they keep us on our toes, desperate to see what wild turn is just around the corner. In our opinion, a well-executed curveball can make a good story great—and it's likely why these books find their way to the big and small screens.
Looking for a read that will surprise you? Below, you'll find a selection of books whose plot twists made us scream, dance, or shriek, "I knew it!" Buckle up, kids—you're in for a wild ride.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Plot twists can make your heart burst into emotional flames, and John Boyne's novel is a prime example. The story is told through the eyes of Bruno, whose father is the commander of a German concentration camp. While wandering around the grounds, Bruno meets a young Jewish prisoner who lives just on the other side of the fence. Don't be fooled by the fact that this is a "kid's book"—the fate of their friendship is guaranteed to leave you in a puddle of tears.
And Then There Were None
Agatha Christie is a master of mystery—a genre that basically invented the concept of plot twists. In fact, it's impossible to pick up a Christie whodunit without an ingenious twist (sometimes there are multiple!). The fan-voted favorite And Then There Were None should be your go-to if you're looking for a mystery that not only keeps you guessing but is a staple of the genre.
The Shadow of the Wind
The Shadow of the Wind is more than just a crazy mystery—it's a beautifully written tale of secrets, romance, and a boy's obsession with lost books. With eloquent detail, Zafón transports you to the Barcelona just after the end of the Spanish Civil War. Every time you think you know what's about to happen, the novel turns a corner you didn't even know was there.
She's Come Undone
She’s Come Undone is Wally Lamb’s debut, and it's filled with unexpected, yet realistic, twists throughout. Lamb tells the coming-of-age story of a funny, cynical, overweight girl named Dolores Price, who is on a mission to change her life for the better. Along the way, the fictional Dolores faces challenges that reflect the unpredictability of real life—and every surprise is as blindsiding to her as it is to the reader.
The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train was all the rage when it hit shelves in 2015, and with good reason. Just like Rachel—the possibly delusional, alcoholic protagonist—readers will constantly question what they do or don't know. The development of each character makes the story all the more compelling, even if no one is particularly likable. Hawkins also alternates between narrators, and because each voice is more unreliable than the next, the novel becomes a mind-boggle of epic proportions.
The Girl with All the Gifts
This book has everything: zombies, dystopian drama, horror, action, creepy children, and gore. Combine these ingredients—plus a couple tablespoons of "Did that just happen?!"—and you've got a recipe for a fantastic read. Set after a fungal infection has wiped out most of the population, The Girl with All the Gifts puts an interesting twist on the average zombie story by creating "living dead" characters with serious emotional depth.
The Turn of the Screw
The Turn of the Screw is a classic ghost story and Gothic horror at its best. Yet again, the use of an unreliable narrator—who seems to be teetering on the edge of insanity—makes you wonder what is truly happening at haunted house in which the novel is set.
When many think of Shutter Island, they think of how Leonardo DiCaprio should have won an Oscar for his portrayal of the book's U.S. Marshall protagonist. But the novel—which pays homage to Gothic horror, B movies, and the Brontë sisters—is worthy of praise in its own right. Set on an isolated island in the 1950s, it evokes the paranoia of the Cold War era and of being trapped among the criminally insane.
Where'd You Go Bernadette
In the same vein as She's Come Undone, the dark humor of Where’d You Go, Bernadette differentiates it from other twisty books. The agoraphobic Bernadette is a kinda nuts and definitely frustrating—especially when she vanishes without a trace, breaking a promise she made her daughter, Bee. Bee then digs into her mother's past, hoping to not only find her, but to understand her. This investigation leads to many interesting, sometimes heartbreaking, discoveries about the woman little Bee calls "Mom."
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
If you thought nonfiction books were incapable of plot twists, think again! Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil will blow your mind as it recounts the real-life shooting of sex worker Danny Hansford. Berendt not only explores the murder—which terrified a Georgia neighborhood in 1981—but life in the Deep South, imitating the style of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.
This post originally appeared on Bookstr.
Featured still from "Shutter Island" (2010), via Paramount Pictures