September 21st, 2020

10 books with the best plot twists

The events of 2020 so far have been one unexpected turn after the other, as if we’ve collectively stumbled into the pages of a particularly action-packed novel.

If you prefer your plot twists in fiction, here are ten spoiler-free recommendations for critically acclaimed books that will keep you on your toes. Be prepared to gasp at twists you never saw coming and bask in the satisfaction of the ones you did.

1. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

If you’ve not yet read this book or seen the 2014 film version, you’re one of the lucky ones who can dive into this twisting tale with an entirely fresh mind.

Amy Dunne vanishes on her 5th wedding anniversary, with suspicion about her disappearance falling on her husband. As the details of their relationship are uncovered through entries in Amy’s diary, you’ll begin to question what is real and what isn’t.

Gillian Flynn weaves an expert tale with twists and turns and an ending you’ll be thinking about long after you’re done reading.

2. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

This cult classic about male identity with a hefty dose of political undertones has a plot twist that dramatically alters the course of the story.

The book’s unnamed protagonist is an insomniac who finds direction in his life when he meets the intimidating but charismatic Tyler Durden. Together they set up a Fight Club of secret boxing matches in the basements of bars, which soon become a national sensation. But this is only the start of Tyler’s plans.

Even if you know about the plot twist from the film, it’s worth reading the book to find out what the original, darker ending is.

3. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

As the all-time bestselling murder mystery, this book should be on the to-read list of every crime fan.

The classic story is about ten strangers invited for a weekend at a private island by a mysterious host. Soon after their arrival, a recorded message accuses all the guests of murder and it is not long after that the first of them is found dead.

As the guests race against time, and each other, this story is sure to keep you guessing.

4. My Sister’s Keeper by Jodie Picoult

By the author renowned for her deeply gut-wrenching but touching stories of tragedy and human connections, My Sister’s Keeper portrays an emotional exploration of bodily autonomy and strained family relationships.

Anna was conceived solely for donating blood and organs to her older sister, who suffers from leukaemia. Aged 13 she begins to question this duty to her sister. Yearning for an individuality she’s never truly had, Anna plans to sue her parents for the rights to her own body.

This decision sets her family in disarray and uncovers hidden motivations from those you’d least expect. A tragic twist of fate at the end will leave you reeling.

5. Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane

This psychological thriller will have you at the edge of your seat, unnerve you in the best ways, and end with a plot twist that will make sense of every mystery leading up to the big reveal.

US Marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner set off on a mission on a remote island to find a murderer who has escaped from a local mental institution. Among rumours of cruel psychiatric testing, the truth begins to unravel, as do the minds of the two men.

Just when you think you know what’s going on, a final revelation turns everything on its head. You won’t put this book down until you’ve reached the last page.

6. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

A novel set in Victorian England follows the intertwining lives of two women from different worlds. Lies mask truths that mask more lies, and your perception of events will be fundamentally shifted more times than you’d expect.

The story follows Sue Trinder, who grew up as an orphan taken in by a family of thieves. To escape poverty, she agrees to help a con man in a scheme to seduce a rich heiress and steal her fortune. Masquerading as the maid for the naĂŻve Maud Lilly, the lives of the two women wind ever closer in a story where nothing is as it seems.

7. I am Legend by Richard Matheson

This post-apocalyptic vampire thriller published in 1954 is the source of inspiration of many iconic horror books and films. A far cry from many of its successors, it tells a story with many more layers than you’d expect.

The book is set in a world overcome by swarms of bloodthirsty undead. Robert Neville is a lone survivor, struggling to live in the ruins of civilisation. During the day he braves the outdoors to hunt vampires and search for other survivors. At night he must hunker down at home and hope he’ll live to see the sunrise.

Your views about loneliness, hope, and the meaning of society won’t be the same by the time you reach the end.

8. Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson

If amnesia, a beautiful house, and wonderful husband you don’t remember sound familiar to you, you might be thinking of the classic rom-com film 50 First Dates. This book takes that concept and runs with it – straight into the darkness of how that trope could go wrong.

Christine Lucas wakes up every morning with no memory of the last ten years of her life. She uses a journal to piece her memories together and to keep track of her life. But what happens when her journal entry for the previous day tells her she can’t trust her husband?

Uncover Christine’s history at the same time she does and find out what really happened to her. Reveal after reveal, you’ll be left guessing until the very last page.

9. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca is a classic story about relationships and jealousy. This gothic novel explores how we deal with ghosts of the past, struggle to live up to expectations, and paint our own monsters on the walls.

The story follows a young, unnamed woman who becomes the second wife of the aristocratic Maxim de Winter. She is desperate to please him but is constantly shadowed by the memory of Maxim’s dead first wife, Rebecca. As the people around her convince her she’ll only ever be second best, the narrator grows ever more jealous of the woman she tries to live up to.

The secrets, gaslighting, and sordid dealings in the dark will shock you time and time again.

10. The Girl With All the Gifts by Mike Carey

This refreshing take on the zombie genre is a thoughtful exploration of humanity on the threshold of extinction. It turns your expectations on their head from the start and carries that momentum until the very last page.

At first, you’ll meet Melanie, a young girl who can’t remember anything from before the underground base she lives in now. Melanie daydreams about the pictures on her walls, adores her classroom teacher, and writes stories about the outside world. She knows that she’s special, that people at the bunker are especially interested in her. But later we find that there’s more to Melanie’s story than meets the eye.

A well-paced story full of suspense and intrigue ends in a final twist that is unconventional for the genre but satisfying in every way.

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