I just finished a book (Lexicon by Max Barry) described by Amazon as a “thriller.” The more I thought about it the more I realized I wasn’t sure what that designation meant. What makes a book a “thriller?” And now I know.
Thriller is a broad genre of literature, film and television, having numerous subgenres. Thrillers are characterized and defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. Successful examples of thrillers are the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Thrillers generally keep the audience on the “edge of their seats” as the plot builds towards a climax. The cover-up of important information from the viewer is a common element. Literary devices such as red herrings, plot twists, and cliffhangers are used extensively. A thriller is usually a villain-driven plot, whereby he or she presents obstacles that the protagonist must overcome.
And don’t miss the sub-genres. Whenever Wikipedia asks for some financial support, I kick in.