You Are Not Alone and 5 novels that would make great Netflix thrillers

Photo: Victoria Pedretti and Penn Badgley in You season 2.. Credit: Beth Dubber/Netflix
Photo: Victoria Pedretti and Penn Badgley in You season 2.. Credit: Beth Dubber/Netflix /

There are a lot of great novels out there that would make excellent Netflix thrillers, so we’ve compiled a few of our favorites into one list.

Between compelling and soapy series like What/If, YouElite, Outer Banks, RecursionThe Society and the upcoming adaptation of Sarah Pinsborough’s novel Behind Her Eyes, Netflix appears to be accumulating an extensive roster of addicting television. Netflix thrillers could even be called a sub-genre of its own, given how many of their original films and series veer toward addicting nail-biters.

Since I heard we’d be seeing a Pinsoborough book come to life (if you’ve never read one of her books, you should try, I guarantee you won’t see the final twists coming), I began thinking about some of the other novels I’ve read that would make for a great addition to the growing catalog of Netflix thrillers.

Here are 5 novels that would make great Netflix thrillers:

5. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Hollywood is obsessed with adapting The Turn of the Screw by Henry James right now. Look at The Turning, a film released earlier this year, and Netflix’s own The Haunting of Bly Manor will also be loosely based on the classic novella. As the title suggests, Ware pointedly made an homage to the iconic book with the title of her novel.

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The Turn of the Key impressed me, and I wasn’t a huge Ware fan before reading it. I’ve read every single one of her books because I love thrillers, but never felt satisfied by one until this one.

Perhaps it is due to the gothic elements I found lying between the pages, or maybe the story had just the right amount of suspense, either way, I would love to see Netflix adapt this book.

Rowan Caine finds a seemingly perfect advertisement for a live-in nanny at the opulent Heatherbrae Estate. The only problem is, Rowan doesn’t have the exact requirements asked of the family, so she tweaks her resume a little to become the perfect applicant.

Once she lands the job, Rowan quickly discovers that Heatherbrae is a “smart house,” full of 24/7 surveillance and all the modern conveniences money can buy. At first, it seems like a luxury job, until she begins to notice strange things like the power going out and other random disturbing instances.

By the end of the book, Rowan has to fight to prove her innocence as a child is left dead in her care, and she becomes the prime suspect in a murder investigation.

4. Reputation by Sara Shepard

For most people, the name Sara Shepard is synonymous with the Pretty Little Liars series. She wrote the best-selling books that became a long-running Freeform drama. However, not many people know that Shepard also wrote some adult fiction, too.

Reputation is similar to PLL in some ways; it begins with an aggressive hack that leaks emails from everyone attending multiple ivy-league universities, including Harvard and Yale. But the online terrorism only serves as a catalyst for the dramatic storylines in the book, rather than acting as a constant thorn in the characters’ sides.

Reputation revolves around several adult women, and none of them are exactly likable. They all have dark secrets and fit the mold of antiheroines more than anything. But Reputation is provocative, soapy and full of twists. It would make for a great anthology series.

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3. The Private series by Kate Brian

I’ve never understood why the Private books haven’t been adapted into a full-fledged television series. They should have been scooped up back when Gossip Girl was in its prime. The series is similar to Gossip Girl in some ways, but much darker.

Private deals with murder, kidnapping, torture, and lots of hazing as girls chomping at the bit to get a place in the revered Billings Hall at Easton Academy. It has intriguing female characters, juicy romances, and plenty of secrets to spill. It is just the kind of addicting young-adult content Netflix has been trying to add to its growing roster of content.

Years ago, Alloy Entertainment made a brief web series based on the series — it even starred Brant Daugherty of Pretty Little Liars fame. But that is as far as the idea ever went. At one point, a film was in the works, but it appears that the project has been dead in the water since 2016.

Plus, Netflix could mine this franchise for plenty of content. Not only are there 14 books in the main series, but there are also two prequel books and a spin-off series — technically this series could compose three Netflix thrillers, or maybe even a couple of standalone films.

Private begins with the story of Reed Brennan and her desperate bid to become a Billings girl during her first year at Easton, but then her new boyfriend goes missing, and she quickly realizes that things at Easton are not as perfect as they appear to be on the surface.

2. You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

Shay Miller is an ordinary woman struggling to make ends meet when she witnesses an event that changes her life forever. While going to work, Shay sees a woman commit suicide by leaping in front of a subway train. She becomes obsessed with her death, learning her name, and becoming entrenched in her life.

That’s when she meets the mysterious and glamorous Moore sisters. Shay feels like maybe she finally found somewhere to belong and wants everything the Moore sisters have to offer. But what she doesn’t realize is the Moore sisters want something from her, too.

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen have made quite a name for themselves in the fiction world. Their previous novels, An Anonymous Girl and The Wife Between Us, have become extremely popular. I  think this one might work better as a movie, but that would still make it one of the many great Netflix thrillers.

1. The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple in the throes of their honeymoon phase of marriage. But then they learn about The Pact, an exclusive organization designed to make marriages last forever. Buy gifts for your spouse when they say so, go on planned trips,  and never tell anyone about The Pact.

At first, Alice and Jake are swept off their feet and more than happy to become part of the exclusive group that invites them to lavish parties and offers them incredible opportunities. Still, then they learn of the consequences of breaking the rules or failing in their marriage.

The punishments vary from humiliating to extreme torture. I was surprised by some of the horrific moments in the book, but it’s a compulsive and addicting read.

Three years ago, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights to make a movie based on The Marriage Pact, but we haven’t heard anything since and this was before the Fox/Disney merger. There is a good chance this project got dropped in the process.

Honestly, I think that is for the best. I feel like The Marriage Pact‘s plot would be serviced better as either a limited series or an anthology. As an anthology, the creators could focus on different couples and how they are affected by the pact and the group’s nefarious intentions, perhaps even changing the setting and era each season.

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Which books from this list do you think would make the best Netflix thrillers? Are there any we’re missing that you think would be a good fit? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!