Reader’s Guide to Dangerous Teenagers ‹ CrimeReads
Whether you’re a shy twelve-year-old, a sixteen-year-old trying to fit in, or a parent, teenagers are terrifying. They love and hate intensely and often at the same time. Rising hormones, irrational logic, and the desire for connection lead to overworked secrets, volatile relationships, and bad decisions. When I started working on my novel, chasm, I thought a lot about the dangerous emotional lives of teenagers. Ironically, while I was working on the final edits to my book, my son was getting involved with someone who was even more dangerous than my antagonist, which is saying something. Sometimes Evil appears wearing pink Fangs.
In many cases, the truth is often more shocking than fiction. For example, in 1954, Honora Parker was murdered by her 16-year-old daughter, Pauline, and Pauline’s 15-year-old best friend. The reason? Pauline’s mother wanted to separate them. The story was the basis for Peter Jackson’s 1994 film, celestial creatures. There is also the famous case of Leopold and Loeb, two wealthy Chicago teenagers who murdered a 14-year-old boy for fun.
But these were isolated incidents, weren’t they? Barely. In 2019, two 14-year-olds hatched a plot to murder and kidnap nine people. In 2021, three Florida teenagers were arrested for murdering a classmate with a knife and sword. Then there was the teenage love triangle that turned into a murder plot in Washington state. As well as five Tucson teenagers who plotted to kill a classmate. Skylar Neese, 16, was murdered by her two “best friends”. And let’s not forget Michelle Carter, the 17-year-old girl who convinced her boyfriend to kill himself. Like I said, teenagers are terrifying.
In fiction, you have Carrie White being bullied by everyone, even her mother, and it ends badly for everyone involved. Heathers also features the bullying and murderous consequences of high school popularity and there are few innocent people. yellow jackets is nothing but the treacherous intensity of adolescent interpersonal dynamics. How did any of us survive our teenage years?
Here are some examples of teens misbehaving:
A secret place by Tana French
Set at St. Kilda’s School, a boarding school for girls in Dublin, Tana French takes readers into the clandestine underworld of teenage girls. A secret place refers to a physical bulletin board where students leave anonymous messages ranging from the mundane to the cruel to cries for help. French said she was inspired by the PostSecret site. A message is left with a picture of a boy who was found murdered on school grounds a year ago with the caption ‘I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM’.
The murdered boy, Chris Harper, was handsome and popular and the investigation into his death has stalled. The Dublin Murder Squad, in this episode, Detective Stephen Moran and Detective Antoinette Conway, are called in to investigate. They face the daunting task of penetrating tight cliques of teenage girls to uncover the truth.
The liar game by Ruth Ware
The liar game opens with the narrator, Isa, recalled to the coastal village of Salten, where she attended boarding school with her best friends, Fatima, Thea and Kate. They were the kind of inseparable clique that excluded everyone, going so far as to create a “lie game” where they earned points by making others believe absurd lies. There were rules to the game and one of them was that they couldn’t lie to each other.
This one also goes back and forth between the main characters as teenagers and adults. They were called back to Salten by Kate because a bone was found along the coast. They know who the bone probably belongs to. Friendship has never been so claustrophobic.
The rumor game by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra
What about prep schools and boarding schools that bring out the worst in people? Did Bryn intend to cause a car accident that injured several of her classmates? Did Cora’s boyfriend cheat on her? no matter what really happened when everyone was convinced that all the rumors were true? In The rumor game guns are words and killing might be less brutal than teenagers with access to a keyboard and social media.
Friend request by Laura Marshall
I find just about any high school-related friend request scary, but in the case of Louise Williams, she should be terrified. The request comes from his old friend Maria Weston – only Maria has been missing and has been presumed dead for twenty-five years. In high school, Louise’s desire to be accepted by a more popular girl led her to reject Maria. Maria’s subsequent disappearance is a lifelong source of guilt. “Maria” begins texting Louise and, predictably, a class reunion looms.
My sister, the serial killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
My sister, the serial killer opens with blood, bleach and a body. Big sister Korede has again received a call that her little sister, Ayoola, needs help. While Ayoola’s age isn’t made explicit, we can assume that with three corpses under her belt, she started out quite young. Located in Lagos, Nigeria, the atmosphere is as different as the two sisters, showing both the rich culture and the corrupt undercurrent. The chapters are short, gory, and satirically funny. Family can be murder.
Sharp objects by Gillian Flynn
Ten-year-old Natalie Keene and nine-year-old Ann Kash are murdered, and journalist Camille Preaker returns to her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri, to cover their deaths. Camille brings a lot of baggage with her, including the death of her own sister and a story of self-harm. Camille’s half-sister, Anna, is thirteen years old and presents herself as an ideal child to adults while terrorizing her peers. Camille’s mother is a wealthy businesswoman who takes little interest in her children. We watch Camille piece together her teenage years with the current case of the two dead girls. The complexity of family dynamics and dysfunction take center stage in this gripping novel.
She’s on the prowl by Gytha Lodge
Seven teenagers go into the woods, but only six come out. For thirty years, the fate of Aurora Jackson, fourteen, has been unknown. Aurora’s skeleton is finally found… in a hiding place known to the other teenagers. DCI Jonah Sheens was a junior office when Aurora first went missing while camping with her older sister and her sister’s friends. For thirty years the events of that night were kept secret. DCI Sheens is determined to find out what happened. The mystery unfolds, moving between 1983 and present.
The survivors by Jane Harper
Teens and their secrets! Kieran Elliott returns to his hometown of Evelyn Bay, Tasmania, with his partner and young baby to help his sick father. Kieran is wracked with guilt for causing the death of his older brother in a boating accident during a storm. Kieran also carries the guilt of another seemingly accidental death on his conscience, so it’s no wonder he makes his way to the mainland and stays there until his ill-fated return trip. We learn more about the storm and the deceitful teenagers of Evelyn Bay after Bronte, a young waitress and art student from Canberra is found drowned on the beach.
That’s how I lied by Heather Gudenkauf
Again, we have adults reckoning with their deadly lies as teenagers. Twenty-five years ago, sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found murdered in her hometown of Grotto, Iowa. Discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and Eve’s peculiar sister, Eve, there were several suspects, but the case was never closed. Maggie’s dad was the chief of police, so it’s no surprise that Maggie goes into law enforcement as well. Now, twenty-five years later, Maggie is faced with new evidence and begins to unearth secrets, including her own.