There’s nothing like a twist at the end of the book to find out the person you’ve been listening to all along isn’t, shall we say, trustworthy. I love an unreliable narrator surprise, as long as it’s done well. Here are some of our favorites that will keep you guessing on April Fools’ Day! Needless to say, spoiler alert!
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media — as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents — the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter — but is he really a killer?
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
The year is 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner, Chuck Aule, have come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Multiple murderess Rachel Solando is loose somewhere on this remote and barren island, despite having been kept in a locked cell under constant surveillance. As a killer hurricane relentlessly bears down on them, a strange case takes on even darker, more sinister shades — with hints of radical experimentation, horrifying surgeries, and lethal countermoves made in the cause of a covert shadow war. No one is going to escape Shutter Island unscathed, because nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems. But then neither is Teddy Daniels.
After the sinking of a cargo ship, a solitary lifeboat remains bobbing on the wild blue Pacific. The only survivors from the wreck are a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi, a hyena, a wounded zebra, an orangutan — and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi Patel, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with the tiger, Richard Parker, for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them “the truth.” After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional — but is it more true?
On a hot summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives — together with her precocious literary gifts — brings about a crime that will change all their lives.
As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.
Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Mary B. Addison killed a baby. Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted — and their unborn child — to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary’s fate now lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary?
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
On the outside, there’s Violet, an 18-year-old ballerina days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries: What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve — in this life or in another one?
It’s a summer’s evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened.
Each couple has a 15-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act — an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children, and as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.
The People In the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
It is 1950 when Norton Perina, a young doctor, embarks on an expedition to a remote Micronesian island in search of a rumored lost tribe. There he encounters a strange group of forest dwellers who appear to have attained a form of immortality that preserves the body but not the mind. Perina uncovers their secret and returns with it to America, where he soon finds great success. But his discovery has come at a terrible cost, not only for the islanders, but for Perina himself.
Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris
For generations, elite young men have attended St. Oswald’s School for Boys, groomed for success by the likes of Roy Straitley, the eccentric classics teacher who has been a revered fixture for more than 30 years. But this year, things are different. Suits, paperwork, and Information Technology rule the world, and Straitley is reluctantly contemplating retirement. He is joined in this, his 99th, term by five new faculty members, including one who–unknown to Straitley and everyone else — holds intimate and dangerous knowledge of St. Ozzie’s ways and secrets, its comforts and conceits. Harboring dark ties to the school’s past, this young teacher has arrived with one terrible goal: Destroy St. Oswald’s. As the new term gets underway, a number of incidents befall students and faculty alike. Beginning as small annoyances–a lost pen, a misplaced coffee mug–they soon escalate to the life threatening. With the school unraveling, only Straitley stands in the way of St. Ozzie’s ruin. But the old man faces a formidable opponent — a master player with a strategy that has been meticulously planned to the final move.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife’s missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid 16-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan’s forgotten campaign in Manchuria.
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
In the months following his father’s suicide, sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto can’t seem to find happiness again, despite the support of his girlfriend, Genevieve, and his overworked mom. Grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist won’t let him forget the pain. But when Aaron meets Thomas, a new kid in the neighborhood, something starts to shift inside him. Aaron can’t deny his unexpected feelings for Thomas despite the tensions their friendship has created with Genevieve and his tight-knit crew. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound happiness, he considers taking drastic actions. The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-altering procedure will straighten him out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
The white tiger of this novel is Balram Halwai, a poor Indian villager whose great ambition leads him to the zenith of Indian business culture, the world of the Bangalore entrepreneur. On the occasion of the president of China’s impending trip to Bangalore, Balram writes a letter to him describing his transformation and his experience as driver and servant to a wealthy Indian family, which he thinks exemplifies the contradictions and complications of Indian society.
In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
What should be a cozy and fun-filled weekend deep in the English countryside takes a sinister turn in Ruth Ware’s suspenseful, compulsive, and darkly twisted psychological thriller.
Sometimes the only thing to fear…is yourself. When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to the English countryside for a weekend away, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new, an unnerving memory shatters Leonora’s reserve, and a haunting realization creeps in: The party is not alone in the woods.
In the winter of 1926, when everybody everywhere sees nothing but good things ahead, Joe Trace, middle-aged door-to-door salesman of Cleopatra beauty products, shoots his teenage lover to death. At the funeral, Joe’s wife, Violet, attacks the girl’s corpse. This passionate, profound story of love and obsession brings us back and forth in time, as a narrative is assembled from the emotions, hopes, fears, and deep realities of black urban life.
One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.
Ellen Whitfield is senior publicist at Books Forward, an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers.
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