Friday, September 28, 2012

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

So, I finally gave in…I absolutely adore this TV show. I’ve fallen in love with The Lying Game books and show (though, I am a book behind in this series). And I’ve been watching “Pretty Little Liars” with the intensity that I watch shows like “Castle” or “Bones.” Seriously, this show is addicting! I started reading this first book in the series a long time ago. I read the majority of the book in a bookstore, waiting for a ride, but for some unknown, mysteriously dumb reason I never picked it up again. What was I thinking?
I’m not sure if I like the books or the show more. Granted, I have that visual aid problem where you watch the show or movie first, and then of course picture all the characters exactly as the actors portray them. So, when Emily was supposed to have red/blonde hair, I was like, “Ew. No.” But that’s okay.
For those of you who live in a cave, or just haven’t given in yet (by the way, you should!), Pretty Little Liars is the story of four girls. The four girls were once five, but on one night in seventh grade, one girl (Alison) goes missing. Aria is the artsy, funky, and unique girl who goes through various phases and various hairstyles. Emily is the athlete. Hanna is the girl who wishes she were Alison. And Spencer is the over-achieving Ivy-bound student. Alison brought them all together. She was super social, bossy, over-achieving, smart, athletic, and unique. She had all the best qualities of all the girls in one package. Yet, she was also kind of evil.
She got the girls to do a lot of things they regret now. And there were a lot of mean girl games they played and people who suffered because of their meanness. When Alison goes missing, the girls’ group pretty much disintegrates. Alison kept them all together. She also was the one who knew the most about everyone. She seemed to somehow always be the one there with one of the girls when something terrible happened or the one to be told the terrible thing first. For instance, she was there with Aria when Aria saw her dad “involved” with a younger woman/student in his car. And Alison was the only one who knew that Spencer had a little thing with Melissa’s (Spencer’s sister) boyfriend. And Alison was the only one to ever know that Emily preferred kissing girls. She was also the only one who knew that Hanna would sometimes binge eat and then make herself throw up.
So when Alison was out of the picture, all the girls lost the one person who knew their deepest secrets. And they kind of all stopped talking to each other. Aria and her family moved to Europe for while (with her dad who took his sabbatical). Spencer went back to focusing on school. Hanna went from fat girl to most popular girl in school (with a new best friend, Mona).  She kind of does become the new Alison. And Emily mostly just hangs out with her swim team. Stuff all changes though when Aria moves back to town.
All the girls start getting messages sent to them (usually in text message format) from someone who sounds too much like Alison and who signs their name, A. And all the girls start getting into serious trouble for things they weren’t getting in trouble for before. Hanna gets busted by the police for shoplifting. Emily makes friends with the new girl who has moved into Alison’s new house and begins to think that she shouldn’t be dating her boyfriend any more. Spencer gets involved with her sister’s new boyfriend. And Aria falls in love with her English teacher, who seems to love her back. And while all this is happening, they all receive messages from A, telling them to watch their backs, and letting them know that not only does someone know what they are doing, but someone knows all their past secrets that only one person was supposed to know as well.
And when it gets to the point where the girls pretty much all think A can be no one but Alison, and Alison must have come back, Alison’s dead body is found in the back of her old house.
The suspense, the drama, the blackmailing, the dead body, and the secrets all add up to make one seriously addicting story! And what really makes this story work are the characters. The girls are each so different and each have some serious problems that they bring to the drama table. There are moments when I was pretty sure I hated all of them, and then there were other moments when I cried for each of them. I still can’t get over the fact that Spencer was the one who got in trouble for messing around with her sister’s boyfriend. Why didn’t the boyfriend get in trouble? Seriously, her parents were so pissed at Spencer, when technically if the guy slept with her it would be considered rape. What parents could be that awful and that pissed at a rape victim? They wouldn’t even listen to her. Granted, she didn’t actually sleep with the guy, but still, it came pretty close.
I also kind of hate Aria and Ezra’s (the teacher) relationship. And based off the show, I know they stay together a long time. Aria would be my favorite character if she weren’t promoting a sexual relationship with her teacher (which would also technically be considered rape if/when sex gets involved). If anything this story really says how much older guys are into teen girls…
What I like that the book does better than the show is the character development. It was really interesting to read about each girls’ separate lives away from the drama. It seems like a much longer period of time before they re-connect in the book. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel like in the show, not as much time has passed since Alison first disappeared.  And in the book, this allows for their individuality to stand out even more; it shows how the girls kind of each have to grow up alone.
I really enjoyed this book. It does seriously give some bad messages to girls about a lot of things. Here’s a list: eating disorders, popularity, bullying, relationships with teachers, relationships with adults, shop-lifting, driving drunk, drinking, smoking (which is not something they do in the show!), and I can actually keep going…I can see why some parents would be hesitant to encourage their young teenage daughters from reading this. However, it makes for some amazing drama! It’s realistic. The author doesn’t sugarcoat things. There is some amazing character writing. The suspense can get anyone, and I mean anyone (boy, girl, young, old) hooked. The intense topics add to the overall feel of the book in a good way despite the bad messages. And overall, I still give this a 9/10. It’s just so much fun to read, and so, so unputdownable.


  1. I read Pretty Little Liars and haven't watched the TV show yet. I really did like it, but along book 4 or 5 I started to get tired of it, and haven't read past book 6 now because 1) there's a huge waiting list for it in the library, and 2) I'm not quite sure I want to.

    However, I loved the first book and found the whole A business seriously creepy. There are lots of great hooks that make you want to keep reading and the suspense building is amazing. Happy reading & reviewing!

  2. Wow, this sounds really close to the show! Most books differ heavily from the tv adaptations. I wonder if that trend will continue. I think I do have to read these, because the show is just so great!