Gripping reads: 8 books to burn through this Halloween

Artwork by Mikaela Gabrielle de Castro/TomasinoWeb

Now that Halloween is just around the corner, are ghosts the only ones we should be worried about during this time around?

Gone are the days when we could go out during the Halloween season to dress up as our favorite characters and have fun with candies and treats like there’s no tomorrow. But we might as well feel the Halloween spirit through novels that bring chills to our spine as we leaf its pages.

Beware, these aren’t your typical spooky reads of ghosts and gore.

‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir (2011)

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It’s 2035 and astronaut Mark Watney became the first person to “colonize” Mars — but might also be the first to die on it. With his hub damaged, the unpredictability of Mars’ environment, self-doubts, and the mental torture that comes with loneliness as his enemies, would he survive?

Andy Weir’s debut novel would keep any reader hooked at the edge of their seat as they see Mark Watney take note of how many Sols he’s been on Mars, what means it would take for him to live, and wonder if he would eventually get back home here on Earth alive.

‘Verity’ by Colleen Hoover (2018)

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Lowen Ashleigh finds being hired as a ghostwriter for the remaining bestselling books series of Jeremy Crawford’s wife, Verity, a beacon of light in a dark tunnel that is her life. But nothing prepares Lowen when she comes across Verity’s autobiography, and every chapter, darker than she had ever seen, feels as if a viper has snaked its way to create a noose on her neck.

Verity is a mind-boggling story that would make you think — and even doubt yourself at most part — on every page. It’ll make you feel as if your brain bled throughout the hours you’ve read it.

‘We Are the Ants’ by Shaun David Hutchinson (2016)

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Henry Denton is being continually abducted by aliens. But in one particular visit, the aliens give him the daunting responsibility of choosing to save the Earth by pushing a red button or just leaving the world to its imminent end in 144 days.

With his mother struggling as a waitress, his jobless dropout brother knocking up his girlfriend, his grandmother slowly succumbing to Alzheimer’s, and the recent death of his boyfriend, Henry Denton is left not knowing what to do.

Shaun David Hutchinson’s novel doesn’t shy away from the topics of mental illness, grief, and sexuality. No matter what angle you choose to read it from, the aftermath would always be the lingering question pulsating at the tip of your fingers. Would you have pushed the red button? Or would you have found reasons not to?

‘The Silent Patient’ by Alex Michaelides (2019)

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Alicia Berenson shot her husband Gabriel point-blank in the face five times, and never spoke again. This leads Theo Faber, a criminal psychotherapist, to unravel every single detail that happened in Alicia’s life to get the truth out of her and break her years-long silence. But the enigma surrounding Alicia’s silence threatens Theo to face the truth about himself — the truth he would do everything to wash his hands off.

The Silent Patient is a thrilling read that you can finish in one sitting, but the psychological horrors it brings would transcend to your subconscious mind and prolong its stay there as the chance permits.

‘It Ends With Us’ by Colleen Hoover (2016)

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Lily Bloom didn’t have it easy, but she managed. She graduated from college and moved to Boston to start her own business. Then Ryle Kincaid, an arrogant and thriving neurosurgeon who’s head over heels for Lily came into her life. Everything seemed too good to be true, and Lily might actually be right.

With Atlas Corrigan, her first love and kindred spirit coming into the picture, everything Lily had with Ryle toppled in ways she never thought possible.

In Ends With Us is a heart-wrenching story of second chances, acceptance, and how abuse, in whatever form, should never be overlooked, no matter who does the act.

‘In Five Years’ by Rebecca Serle (2020)

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Dannie Kohan believes in living by numbers. She plans everything ahead of time and thrives for control and stability. So when she got asked about the daunting question of, “Where do you see yourself in five years?,” during the most important interview in her life, Dannie had a meticulously crafted answer: she’ll be working as a senior associate in this company and married to her boyfriend David.

Later, after nailing the interview and accepting David’s wedding proposal, she slept at peace knowing that everything’s right on track. Suddenly, she woke up to the same day but five years into the future, inside an apartment she isn’t aware of and beside a man who isn’t David, wearing a different ring on her finger.

In Five Years is a difficult but thought-provoking read about grief, friendship, and heartbreak. This gut-wrenching novel demands you to think about the uncertainty of life, and whether or not we have control over our destiny or we’re nothing but persons on a boat abiding by the current called life.

‘They Both Die at the End’ by Adam Silvera (2017)

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A little after midnight on Sept. 5, Rufus and Matteo got a call from Death-Cast. They were going to die that day, no specifics added. Despite being total strangers who met through an app called the Last Friend, they try their best to live a lifetime with less than a day to live.

Adam Silvera knows what to write that would hit you with maximum impact. They Both Die at the End makes you see the imaginary reel inside your head and rethink how you have lived your life so far. It begs you to ask the question, “What does it really mean to live?”

This book doesn’t demand answers right away, but rather slowly, as you let the story sink in, giving you time to think after turning the last page.

‘The Push’ by Ashley Audrain (2021)

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Blythe Connor wanted to be the kind of mother she never had: to become warm and loving to her daughter Violet — until she’s convinced there’s something odd with her. She doesn’t behave like kids her age.

The Push is a multifaceted and complex read about dysfunctional family relationships and how they can be disintegrated in many possible ways. But what makes Ashley Audrain’s novel chilling is how it raises questions on the gray area about nurture versus nature in child development. It’s the book you would find difficult to finish but also wish to see how the story would pan out.

These books have no ghosts in them, only the element of it that seeps through the mind and decides to follow you in the waking hours.

But these stories are their own kind of spooky, the type to stop you in your tracks. You’ll wonder if you ever come across these characters or be the one walking in their shoes, “What would I have done?”

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The Official Digital Media Organization of the University of Santo Tomas

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