What Constitutes a Thriller?

After reading Kiss Her Goodbye by Robert Gregory Browne and Don’t Look Twice by Andrew Gross, i have researched what consitutes a thriller as both of these books i have not found to be very ‘thrilling’.

I have watched movies that are thrillers and i have definitely been thrilled. The main one that comes to mind is ‘Hide and Seek’ with Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning. The movie is classified as a Horror/Mystery/Thriller. There were some gruesome bits but if i can handle it, anyone can. I think it was more thriller than horror.

My experience then of thrillers, having been like the above, is of having my heart in my mouth, holding my breath, waiting for that thing (you know, when someone is walking down a darkened corridor and you just know that someone is going to grab them) and overall adrenaline rushes.

When i started to read books classed as ‘thrillers’, i guess i expected the same. However unless you’re reading a book in a haunted house and you’re worried someone is going to grab you, how would they achieve that without visuals and music? I reckon it’s the music. Have you ever watched a scary movie on mute?

Anyway, I’ve started to realise that even though literature, film and television all have similar genres, it doesn’t mean that in those genres, they act all the same.

According to Merriam Webster, the definition of a thriller is: “One that thrills; especially : a work of fiction or drama designed to hold the interest by the use of a high degree of intrigue, adventure, or suspense”.


So i was probably wrong in expecting the high level of ‘thrills’ i experience from movies, in books. However i still stand by my reviews of the two books i read, in that they didn’t meet the definition of a thriller.


One thought on “What Constitutes a Thriller?

  1. Pingback: The Blue Zone by Andrew Gross | Reading For The Masses

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