Titles: Pretty Little Liars, Flawless, Perfect, Unbelievable and Wicked
Author: Sara Shepard
Star Rating: 5 out of 5
On the last day of Seventh Grade Alison DiLaurentis storms out of a sleepover she is having with her four best friends and is never seen again. Over time her best friends drift apart and start rebuilding their lives; Spencer is an A grade student and class VP; Emily is the star of the school swimming team; Aria has just returned from three years living in Iceland and Emily has undergone the biggest transformation, from dumpy dork to the slim and glamorous queen bee of Rosewood Day School. The girls have nothing to do with one another, but each of them has a dark secret or two, secrets that only Ali knew and when they start receiving mysterious notes from A, threatening to reveal all they have no choice but to start digging up the past. A past that leads them to question how much they actually knew about their missing BFF.
The first five books in the Pretty Little Liars series cover many scandalous secrets. From plagiarising essays to affairs with teachers, from struggles with eating disorders to struggles with sexuality, it seems that A knows everyone’s inner most thoughts and isn’t afraid to use them against Ali’s former friends. It is not long before events start taking a sinister turn and bodies start appearing.
When I saw that Pretty Little Liars was coming to Netflix I decided I would try and read some of the books before I even thought about watching the series; I didn’t quite realise how many books there were but that is beside the point. As always I am sure it will take me forever to get round to the TV programme but the books didn’t take quite as long. I found the first two in my local library and checked them out before Christmas, however I didn’t start reading them until maybe a week and a half ago and in that time I have been back to the library to check out all the books in the series I could find. This is a promising sign. Sad news is that my county library system only has the first five books so I fear withdrawal symptoms are going to kick in soon…I want to know what happens next.
Pretty Little Liars is an addictive series. It reminds me of reading Gossip Girl when I actually was a teenager; I devoured this series too, loving the characters, the gossip and scandal elements of the story and the mystery of what will happen next. Pretty Little Liars is just as good, although slightly darker and more sinister. I love how the narrative revolves around a missing person as this appeals to the crime lover in me and the ‘who is behind the notes’ mystery has kept me guessing throughout.
I’m not going to pretend that this is a high brow series – because of course it isn’t – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fantastically addictive reads. Shepard is clever in that there are hints as to who is behind the notes (and the bigger mystery) throughout but some of them are double bluffs; A wants to manipulate the four main characters in to believing the people they trust are behind the crimes and this in turn leaves the reader constantly guessing. I have my suspicions purely directed at Spencer’s sister, Melissa, but as my experience of crime reading has taught me, I never get it right. Perhaps the cleverest thing Shepard does is end each book on a major cliffhanger, whether that is a dead body or a serious accident that leaves the reader wondering as to the fate of certain characters, it is pure genius in getting readers like myself to want the next book straight away. It is a sure fire way to get people like me to devour five books in a week and a half.
Now I’m a little sad that my county library doesn’t stock any of the following books so I can continue with the mystery and scandal, but maybe it is time to read something slightly more grown up. I have enjoyed the pure escapism this series has brought so far and it has provided that much needed light relief that I always crave from my reading during term time.