These Deadly Games by Diana Urban

These Deadly Games

In this YA psychological thriller, a girl receives a message from an anonymous source who says she has 24 hours to play a game by their rules, or they'll kill her sister. When she realizes that playing the game means destroying—or killing—her friends, she must figure out a way to beat the kidnapper at their own game, before she loses everything.



These Deadly Games will be published in:
USA | Canada | Spain | Czech Republic | Hungary

Get Access to Exclusive Content

Subscribe to my newsletter to get behind-the-scenes looks and community access!

Meet the Characters

Illustrations by Mars Lauderbaugh.

Crystal Donovan from These Deadly Games
Matty Wilson from These Deadly Games
Dylan Rogers from These Deadly Games
Zoey Bloom from These Deadly Games
Akira "Kiki" Saito from These Deadly Games
Randall Lewis from These Deadly Games

Acclaim for These Deadly Games

“A propulsive mystery with high stakes and devious, masterful twists that will leave you guessing until the very last page. Diana Urban’s latest had my jaw on the floor.”

—Jessica Goodman, New York Times bestselling author of They Wish They Were Us

“I read this so fast with my heart so fully in my throat it felt jarring to come back to the real world. These Deadly Games is a thrill of a ride that’ll keep you guessing on the edge of your seat to the very end.”

—Emma Lord, New York Times bestselling author of You Have a Match

“Diana Urban has done it again! From the very first pages of These Deadly Games, the tension begins to build, and Urban deftly navigates the puzzle-filled plot toward a truly satisfying conclusion I didn’t see coming. Readers will race to the end, guessing along with Crystal as she faces one impossible challenge after another, in a race against time to save her sister. The stakes are enormous, the twists are shocking, and These Deadly Games is as thrilling as it gets!”

—Tom Ryan, award-winning author of Keep This To Yourself

“A heart-pounding race against the clock filled with unexpected twists, betrayal and danger, These Deadly Games asks the terrifying question: who would you be willing to hurt to save your sister’s life? Filled with Diana Urban’s trademark morally grey characters and fast-paced reveals, this book is a must-read for fans of race against the clock thrillers that leave you unable to tear your eyes from the page.”

—Sophie Gonzales, author of Only Mostly Devastated

“Filled with an engaging mystery, a breathless race against time, and a rollercoaster ride full of thrilling up and down moments, this book had me flipping pages late into the night.​”

—Aurora Dominguez, Book Riot contributor and Frolic YA expert

“Non-stop, addictive, and utterly compelling. These Deadly Games hooked me from minute one, and didn’t let me go until its smart, twisty conclusion. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it.”

—Amie Kaufman, New York Times bestselling author of Illuminae and Aurora Rising

A chilling and engaging thriller… its strongest feature is Crystal’s rich and complex relationships with her violent, alcoholic father; her friends; and her sister and the ways they intertwine with her own past mistakes and the secrets she and her friends are keeping.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Ten points for twisted. Ten points for razor sharp. Bonus points for addictive. These Deadly Games is an expertly plotted, spine-chilling read that’s wickedly suspenseful and shockingly relatable. Trust me, you’ve never played a game this devious, clever, or full of hairpin turn surprises. Urban elevates the YA thriller with her astute insights into friendship, guilt, and the secrets we compulsively keep…”

—Rebecca Hanover, New York Times bestselling author of The Similars

“From nail-biting beginning to jaw-dropping end, These Deadly Games delivers an intense ride fraught with mystery and surprise. A tightly wound thriller that makes you second guess every character’s motives, this book left me completely breathless by its final shocking twist.”

—Wendy Heard, author of She’s Too Pretty to Burn

“An edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of complex friendships, malice, and impossible choices, These Deadly Games is even darker, more shocking and addictive than All Your Twisted Secrets. Once again, Diana Urban doesn’t hesitate to terrorize her characters — and her readers!”

—Alyssa Raymond, bookseller at Copper Dog Books

If she doesn’t play their game, her sister will die…

Let’s play a game.

You have 24 hours to win. If you break my rules, she dies. If you call the police, she dies. If you tell your parents or anyone else, she dies.

Are you ready?

When Crystal Donavan gets a message on a mysterious app with a video of her little sister gagged and bound, she agrees to play the kidnapper’s game. At first, they make her complete bizarre tasks: steal a test and stuff it in a locker, bake brownies, make a prank call.

But then Crystal realizes each task is meant to hurt—and kill—her friends, one by one. But if she refuses to play, the kidnapper will kill her sister. Is someone trying to take her team out of the running for a gaming tournament? Or have they uncovered a secret from their past, and wants them to pay for what they did…

As Crystal makes the impossible choices between her friends and her sister, she must uncover the truth and find a way to outplay the kidnapper… before it’s too late.

Content Advisory: This book contains themes and/or mentions of death, panic attacks, and eating disorders.

FAQs for These Deadly Games

No display
How did you come up with the idea for These Deadly Games?

We all wonder what we’d do in a murder mystery like I Know What You Did Last Summer. What if someone was picking off your friends one by one, and going to the police wasn’t an option? Would you panic and run? Or would you have the smarts to solve the mystery? Now let’s crank up the stakes. What if the killer made you do the killing, or else they’d murder the person who mattered to you most?

Would you be able to choose?

I love exploring these kinds of moral dilemmas in my books—how they needle readers’ minds long after they turn the last page. In These Deadly Games, Crystal Donovan faces this exact dilemma. She’s the kind of protagonist you love to root for—witty, competitive, fiercely protective of her little sister. When she gets a video message of her sister gagged and bound, she agrees to play the kidnapper’s game to save her life. But soon after the games begin, Crystal realizes each task is meant to hurt—and kill—her friends, one by one. And so she must choose: her friends or her sister. Unless she can outplay the kidnapper.

Will there be a sequel to These Deadly Games?

I don’t currently have plans to write a sequel to These Deadly Games because I’m with a new publisher now, but I’ll never say never!

Get Media Kit

Looking for Diana’s bio, headshots, and high-res book cover image? Click below!

Request an Interview

Complete a simple form to initiate an interview request with Diana Urban, and easily submit your questions!