I’m pretty sure you’ve all seen the Pretty Little Liars television series, the popular show based on the book series written by Sara Shepard. Or maybe you’re like me: you’ve read the books, but you aren’t following the TV series. I tried to watch a few episodes and I honestly have to admit, I didn’t find the show engaging; not like the books are.
I have read the first ten books–apparently Shepard hasn’t finished writing the Pretty Little Liars series–and I couldn’t put these books down. Shepard expertly and superbly created suspense and mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat through all ten books.
The Pretty Little Liars books follow the story of four teenage girls: Spencer Hastings, Aria Montgomery, Emily Fields and Hanna Marin, whose lives are turned upside down when someone who goes by the name of A perpetually torments them with vicious threats. The question is: who is A? That is where the mystery lies until the end of the eighth book, Wanted.
When these girls were in sixth grade, Alison DiLaurentis, the most beautiful and popular girl in Rosewood Day Prep School, chose them to be her best friends. Alison transformed Hanna, Emily, Aria and Spencer into Queen-Bees, but she also learnt all of their secrets and dangled those secrets in their faces the way a heartless person would. Then, the evening after their seventh grade graduation, Alison disappeared. Three years later, her body was discovered in a dug-up, cement filled hole in her parents’ back yard.
Shortly after Alison’s body is discovered, Spencer, Hanna, Aria and Emily begin to receive threats from A. As if grieving the loss of a good friend isn’t enough hardship for the four young women to bear.
Just when the mystery of A’s identity is about to be revealed, every potential suspect turns out to be innocent or…otherwise.
All four girls come from wealthy families, but they still experience the trauma and drama that all teens go through: rejection at home and at school, sibling rivalry, insecurity, romance, bullying, grieving the loss of a close friend, and having to find stability in a home environment that’s not stable, or, in Emily’s case, having to deal with overly strict parents. All of these things that these girls go through are what make them so relatable.
In terms of writing, Shepard knows her fashion well by the vivid description of every purse and item of clothing. Not every woman and teenage girl is a fashionista–I certainly am not–so I found the descriptions over the top at times and painful to read. All those Burberry Tench’s, Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, etc., didn’t provide me with a vivid image of what their clothes look like. That’s the only real criticism I have of Pretty Little Liars.
Aside from that, these books are a must read. They will keep you on the edge of your seat until the…well, until Shepard decides to conclude the series.