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15 Suspenseful Books Like We Were Liars

Last Updated on December 1, 2023 by Louisa

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart is a twisted tale of a seemingly perfect family that’s anything but. It’s a story that takes you on a roller coaster ride as you uncover the secrets this family has been hiding.

If you’re looking for similar books that have you hooked to the best last page like We Were Liars, then you’ve come to the right place.

We Were Liars was packed with suspense, but also had themes of wealth, greed, betrayal, and loss of memory.

I love a good suspense novel where I can uncover scandalous secrets. So I’ve pulled together my list of the best books like We Were Liars for anyone who might be wondering what to read next.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through any of these links. 

Quick Answers: Top 3 Picks!

If you need a book quickly but don’t have much time, don’t panic. Here are my top three favs!

Our Favourites!

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder

#1 Best Highly Acclaimed Novel

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

  • About a girl who investigates a murder case as her senior project
  • A mystery/thriller novel with crime drama
  • The highly acclaimed novel with international recognition

I Know What You Did Last Summer

#2 Best Thriller

I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lori Duncan

  • About a high school student who receives a note saying, “I know what you did last summer,” referring to an accident that took place with fatal consequences
  • Voted The Most Popular Paperback for Young Adults by the American Library Association in 2005
  • Turned into a movie starring Jennifer Love Hewitt

One of Us Is Lying

#3 Best Young Adult

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus

  • Entertainment Weekly Best YA Book of the Year
  • 79 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list
  • Four students are suspected of murdering their classmate. Each has its secret, but could one have gone to extreme lengths to silence someone?

Summary of We Were Liars

Before I go into the top similar books to We Were Liars, let’s quickly recap the story so we can be reminded of its themes and major plot points. This will give you a bit more of an idea of what to expect from similar books later. 

Visiting a private island every summer with her three cousins, Cady has had quite a privileged life so far.

Tragedy strikes, however, as while on said island, a mysterious accident completely voids Cady from her memory.

Years later, she returns to the island to unravel what happened to her memory.

With a plot that slowly unravels the more you read, its suspense keeps you turning the pages even though it might be time for bed.

With a unique poetic writing style, Lockhart persuades you to connect with the characters dearly, setting you up for a fantastic finish. 

Best Books Like We Were Liars

Now you remember what happened in the story, it’s time to uncover more secrets!

Here are 15 books that are similar to We Were Liars that should be added to your list for your next read.

1. One Of Us Is Lying – Karen McManus

One of my favorite YA suspense novels over the past few years has been One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus. If you haven’t read it yet, I truly believe this is one story that fans of We Were Liars would love.

The story starts when 5 students enter detention on Monday afternoon. Only 4 end up leaving alive.

The one who died was Simon, the outcast and creator of the high school’s gossip app.

Simon knew secrets that the other 4 students were keeping secrets and had plans to spill the tea on his app on Tuesday.

But now all 4 students are looking guilty of the crime and need to work together to clear their names, as well as uncover the secret of who actually killed Simon.

It’s a suspense novel that had me glued to every page. I loved the character dynamics, as we had one from every clique – a popular girl, an athlete, a bookworm, and the school bad boy (it’s like a dark version of The Breakfast Club).

Even the best detectives won’t see the twist at the end of this novel coming.

2. The Lying Game – Sara Shepard

If you’re looking for an exciting YA suspense novel filled with secrets, then perhaps you will enjoy reading The Lying Game. This is the first book in a 6 book series and was also the basis for the TV series, Pretty Little Liars.

The story follows Emma and Sutton who were twins that were given up for adoption as newborns.

They never knew each other existed.

Sutton lived a privileged life with a nice family while Emma was in foster care. 

A video leads Emma to Sutton’s Facebook page, so she sends her a message.

However, it’s not Sutton behind the page.

Sutton’s dead, and now her killer has lured Emma into taking her place.

Emma can’t speak her truth because the killer has perfectly framed her for the crime.

Even if Emma told the truth, nobody would believe her. After all, Sutton was the queen of pranks and known to play The Lying Game

I don’t think I’ve read anything quite so gripping as The Lying Game in a long time. Emma was put in a position that I was sure was impossible to escape from.

I loved how the mystery unfolded and as more secrets came out, the plot effortlessly weaved together.

3. Even In Paradise – Chelsey Philpot

Are you interested in more books like We Were Liars that uncover family secrets? Then you might enjoy reading Even In Paradise.

We are first introduced to Charlotte who was intrigued when Julia, the senator’s daughter, started going to her school.

Everyone knows about Julia and her ultra-privileged life. What Charlotte never expected was to be a part of it.

As she befriends Julia, she’s brought into a world filled with champagne, luxurious parties, and vacations.

However, Charlotte soon learns that Julia’s family is linked to a tragedy behind closed doors. Their secrets won’t stay hidden for long.

The writing style is clear and concise, allowing the suspense to be the focal point of the story without sacrificing character development or setting.

4. Liar – Justine Larbalestier

Lies are a key part of We Were Liars, and with lies come secrets, which always makes for an exciting novel. That’s why I think We Were Liars fans will enjoy Liar by Justine Larbalestier.

The story follows Micah, a compulsive liar who’s always a step ahead of her stories.

Her family, peers, and teachers know not to trust a word from her lips. When Micah’s boyfriend dies, her lying habit comes back to haunt her.

Now Micah is in a position where she needs to tell the whole truth. However, lying is what comes naturally to her.

To make it worse, nobody believes her when she does tell the truth. This is one book where even readers wonder if they’re reading the truth or a lie.

The suspenseful moments are balanced with moments of introspection and character development, making this novel a gripping and thought-provoking read.

5. Sadie – Courtney Summers

Sadie is the breakout novel by Courtney Summers that is an excellent debut from the author.

It’s about a true crime podcaster and a young girl who finds herself uncovering a murder the police can’t solve. It takes readers on a wild ride of suspense.

Sadie was the guardian of her younger sister Mattie. She was devastated when Mattie was found murdered.

To make it worse, the police completely botched the investigation. With Mattie’s killer still out there, Sadie is determined to find them. 

A podcaster takes an interest in Sadie’s story. He becomes determined to find and help her put together the missing pieces.

Although harrowing, I found the story to be somewhat believable, and I love stories that have podcasters and social media enthusiasts solving a case when the police are lost.

Disclaimer: This novel has scenes of pedophilia, murder, bullying, assault, sexual assault, extreme parental abandonment, neglect, talk of suicide, drug use, and underage drinking.

6. A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder – Holly Jackson

If you enjoyed We Were Liars for the mystery plotline, then you’ll love A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder

Like We Were Liars, this novel also has a young female lead looking for answers in the past.

The story begins when a young girl’s murder shook a small town. But the police have the supposed killer behind bars.

While the case is closed, it doesn’t feel right to Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

She decides to study this case for a school project. This leads Pippa to uncover secrets that someone wants to keep hidden.

The pacing of the suspense in this novel is expertly crafted, keeping the reader engaged throughout.

7. The Forgotten Girls – Sara Blaedel

If you’re looking for an intense suspense novel with family secrets, then you may enjoy The Forgotten Girls.

It begins when a woman is found dead in the forest, but nobody recognizes her.

It’s discovered that she was abandoned and raised in an institution labeled as one of the “forgotten girls.” 

Louise, the detective on the case, soon discovers disturbing secrets about this girl, including a death certificate issued over 30 years ago.

This case takes her on a path where she uncovers more hidden secrets and crimes committed.

The intricate plot twists and turns, leading to a satisfying and unpredictable ending. The author masterfully builds suspense by providing just enough information to keep the reader curious and guessing.

8. The Inheritance Games – Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Inheritance Games is an exciting story that fans of We We Liars and the Knives Out movies will enjoy.

Like We Were Liars, it also has themes of social status, wealth, betrayal and mystery.

The story begins when Avery has just inherited a billionaire’s fortune. While this is life-changing, she’s utterly confused because she has no idea who this man that left her the fortune was.

However, he did leave one catch for Avery. She must move into his house to claim it.

She wasn’t expecting that his family would still live in the house. Now they expect that she is their grandfather’s last puzzle to solve. 

The suspenseful moments are balanced with moments of introspection and character development, making this novel a gripping and thought-provoking read.

9. The Night Sister – Jennifer McMahon

Another one of my favorite books like We Were Liars that is all about uncovering secrets is The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon. 

Secrets were buried at the Tower Motel, only to be discovered by three young sisters.

Amy, Piper, and Margot never talk about what they discovered at that motel. 

Now, as adults, things are more complicated than ever.

Amy has been accused of a crime, and now Piper and Margot must do some investigating.

This brings them back to the secrets kept at the Tower Motel.

The constant sense of danger and impending doom keeps the reader on edge, making this book a page-turner until the very end.

10. The Death of Mrs. Westaway – Ruth Ware

The Death Of Mrs. Westaway is a riveting suspense novel that fans of We Were Liars won’t be able to put down.

The story is about Hal, a tarot card reader with interesting skills.

When she receives a letter informing her that she’s inherited a fortune, she soon realizes that this letter was meant for someone else.

Yet, she believes her skills could help her obtain the money.

However, she soon realizes that there is something very strange about the situation. Will the inheritance be worth it for Hal?

The author’s use of psychological elements adds complexity to the story, providing a more nuanced understanding of the characters and their motivations.

11. Someone We Know – Shari Lapena

If you’re ready for an exciting novel filled with family secrets, neighborhood drama, and a bit of murder, I recommend Someone We Know by Shari Lapena.

The story is about a curious teen who has been breaking into houses and hacking into people’s computers.

This is how he knows all of their secrets.

When his mother finds out, she wants to protect her son and keep his actions a secret. 

In the same neighborhood, a beautiful woman with secrets is found murdered.

Many of the neighbors have the motivation to hurt this woman. When all of the neighbors have something to hide, everyone becomes a suspect.

The setting is integral to the plot, adding an extra layer of depth to the story. This is a must-read for fans of suspense who are looking for a gripping, well-written, and unpredictable story.

12. The Cheerleaders – Kara Thomas

Do you want to read more YA suspense books like We Were Liars? Then The Cheerleaders will have you hooked until you uncover every last secret.

Every cheerleader from Sunnybrook High is dead. The incidents leading to these deaths are ones the town wants to forget.

5 years later, a student named Monica starts to unravel secrets about what led to these deaths. 

Even though there are no more cheerleaders, the town is still unsafe. It turns out the person accused of the killings might not be the mastermind behind these crimes.

The pacing is excellent, building suspense at a perfect tempo throughout the entire book. The final reveal is satisfying and unexpected, tying up loose threads in a clever and satisfying way.

Disclaimer: This book contains scenes of self-harm that may distress some readers

13. Pretty Little Wife – Darby Kane

Are you ready for another exciting novel filled with lies and secrets? Pretty Little Wife is a compelling story that readers of We Were Liars would love.

The story begins when Aaron Ridgefield goes missing. The entire town is worried about the whereabouts of this popular teacher.

Nobody is more confused about his disappearance than his wife Lila. After all, she was the last person to see his body, and dead bodies don’t just move on their own.

While all fingers could point to Lila, it seems unlikely. There is also a missing student, and police believe these crimes are connected. 

Readers might be quick to accuse Lila, but this book has a lot of secrets to uncover. The plot twists and turns with every chapter, leading the reader down unexpected paths.

14. I Know What You Did Last Summer – Lori Duncan

I Know What You Did Last Summer inspired many of my favorite YA suspense novels on this list, so I had to make sure to add the daddy of all suspense novels to this list.

It’s a story about how people’s hidden secrets always have a way of coming back to haunt them.

Last summer, a group of friends made a terrible mistake. They decided to keep that mistake a secret because the consequences could have ruined their lives. However, someone knows their secrets, and that person will not let them get away with it. 

The group of friends has drifted apart since the incident. When Julie receives an anonymous note that reads, “I know what you did last summer” they must face what they did that night. 

Every page is rife with tension and a sense of unease, making it hard to put down!

Fun fact: This book was originally released in 1973. In 2010, the author updated the story many years later to make the content more modern so teens of newer generations can enjoy this classic story.

15. Family Of Liars – E. Lockhart 

For another book like We Were Liars you must make sure you read is E. Lockhart’s book Family of Liars, which is the prequel to We Were Liars.

We Were Liars told the story of the tragedy the modern generation of Sinclairs has faced. That was just a taste of the secrets this family holds.

Now, prior generations of the Sinclair family were just as guilty of having secrets. Some of these secrets have haunted them dearly.

If you want to uncover more of the scandalous lives of the Sinclair family, I suggest Family of Liars for your next read. The characters are brilliantly crafted and each have their own secrets–you can’t help but suspect everyone!

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books like we were liars

Final Words On Books Like We Were Liars

There are a lot of secrets to uncover in these suspense books and I hope you found something that sounds tantalizing from this list.

Whether you’re looking for something about family drama or uncovering a suspicious murder, I’ve included something for everyone on my list.

If you think missed one of your favorite books, let me know about it in the comments below.

Headshot of Louisa

About Louisa Smith

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the Founder, Editor, and Head Honcho of Epic Book Society. She was born and raised in the United Kingdom and graduated from the University for the Creative Arts with a degree in Journalism. Louisa began her writing career at the age of 7 when her poetry was published in an anthology of poems to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. Upon graduating university, she spent several years working as a journalist writing about books before transitioning to become a Primary School Teacher. Louisa loves all genres of books, but her favorites are Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy, and Young Adult Fiction. Read more Louisa's story here.

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