Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What's The Difference Between Thriller And Mystery?

One of the coolest things about writing for kids is when I get to hear from those kids themselves. You'd think that happens very often, but you'd be surprised. Since I'm still new at the author gig, I mostly talk to librarians, teachers, parents, grandparents--those people who will be buying books for the tweens in their life.

So it was cool to hear from a friend who bought the book for his son, but then he told me his teacher wouldn't let him read it for his required mystery book. Since Double Vision is a thriller. This kid ended up reading the book anyway once the assignment was finished (my readers are cool that way). Not that I disagree with the teacher--there are certainly many middle-grade books that are stronger mysteries--but it did make wonder...

What makes a mystery, and what makes a thriller? Is it the puzzle versus the chase?

I do think Double Vision is more of a thriller, so the teacher was right. But isn't it also a mystery? There's a puzzle and a whodunit to solve...

What do you think makes each category? Or is it all just nonsense, this labeling?


  1. I can't believe a teacher would have such a narrow view of books.

  2. I think the teacher was probably just trying to keep the conversation on track--I honestly don't mind (this kid read the book anyway :-). But it's interesting how that distinction is made. The only way I identify a thriller is by its cover, and even then I'm wrong all the time.

  3. If I had to say, I'd have to break it down this way:

    --Mystery is more thinking/talking
    --Thriller is more running/shooting

  4. It's about the pace--you're right, Deb. And there *is* a lot of running in Double Vision :-)

  5. Too many labels.
    Mysteries. Noir. Cozies. Thrillers. Political thrillers. Procedurals. Spy thrillers. Romantic thrillers. Suspense. Paranormal mysteries. Amateur sleuths. Hard-boiled. Forensic.

  6. Tough one, Fleur. I'd like to think of mystery as hardboiled crime and detective fiction and thriller as edge-of-the-seat suspense and horror. I think Debbie has a good point there.

  7. That's my thought, Prashant--the puzzle is resolved at more of a detective pace.

    You're right, Amy :-)