What YA Reading: Best Books with the Right Balance of Tension

Tense moments can make or break a story. Too much tension and it feels like the author is trying too hard. Too little and I lose interest. When an author strikes just the right balance, the story can feel magical. Here are a few books that find that beautiful balance of tension that brings a story to life.

Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

book cover of catwoman soulstealerSelina Kyle grew up in Gotham City then she escaped for two years. Now she is back, living as wealthy socialite Holly Vanderhees by day and mysterious criminal Catwoman by night. She’s determined to execute her plans while Batman is away.

Luke Fox is dealing with his own demons while he tries to help the people of Gotham as Batwing. When Catwoman starts working with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, Batwing knows he needs to move quickly before they bring Gotham to its knees.

I loved this version of Catwoman’s story! Often it’s hard to understand what motivates the villains of my favorite childhood comic books. This book brings Catwoman to life in an absolutely incredible way. She is kind, sympathetic and caring, while also becoming the villain Gotham fears. I enjoyed the balance between Batwing and Catwoman – both are inherently flawed individuals. Throughout the story you witness Catwoman’s interactions with her enemies and her allies. Will her plans succeed or is everything is going to blow up in Selina’s face?

This is a great read if you want a more grown-up version of your comics.

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

book cover of the inheritance gamesAvery Grambs just wants to finish high school, go to college and move on with her life. Then everything changes in an instant: she has been left the massive fortune of Tobias Hawthorne, a billionaire she’s never met. The only catch? She has to live for at least a year with the family who had been expecting to receive the windfall. This includes his four grandsons who all have their own suspicions as to why Avery was chosen. Her only choice is to try to work with them to unravel the mystery.

I love a good mystery and this was an amazing one! Avery just wants to know what is going on and find the answer to the big question: why me? Why would someone leave her all this money? Why would he expect her to live with his family? The tension between her and the family she must live with is palpable. It weaves in and out of every interaction. Each encounter with one of the grandsons brings more depth to the characters and makes you want to know what is going on inside their heads.

This is a wonderful read if you are looking for a good mystery that will leave you guessing.

Rule by Ellen Goodlett

book cover of ruleWhat would you do if you knew you had the chance to rule? When the crown prince of Kolonya dies, the king of Kolonya decides to recognize his three illegitimate daughters. One of them will also be named his heir. However, each of the girls carries the burden of a secret that could destroy everything. Soon after being recognized, the girls each discover the worst thing for each of them has happened: someone in Kolonya knows their secrets.

This was a fun read. Each of the girls has a distinctly different personality that comes out more and more as the story progresses. The relationships between the girls make the story. Zofi, Akeylah and Ren come into the palace as strangers competing for the throne. When they discover someone is out to get them, they realize there’s more to family than just blood.

If you like intrigue, this is the book for you.

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Abigail is the Community Services Librarian. Some of her favorite genres are young adult fantasy, inspirational fiction, and chick lit. She loves to listen to music, crochet, watch DIY television, and eat pretty much anything that involves potatoes or chocolate.