Saturday, October 05, 2013

Review: Pretty Little Liars (Pretty Little Liars: Book One) by Sara Shepard

How I Came to Know About this Book: After watching the TV show based on these books.

Format of The Book: Ebook (epub version).

Genre: Suspense, YA, Mystery, Thriller.

Length of the Book: 286 pages (paperback).

Characters of The Book: Alison, Spencer, Emily, Hanna, Aria, (and their respective parents), Mona, Toby, Jenna, Noel, Sean, Ezra, Maya, Kate, Isabel, Mike, Melissa, Wren, Ben, Wilden, Ian Thomas, Carolyn, Meredith and of course 'A'!

A Short Synopsis: Three years ago, Alison disappeared after a slumber party, not to be seen since. Her friends at the elite Pennsylvania school mourned her, but they also breathed secret sighs of relief. Each of them guarded a secret that only Alison had known. Now they have other dirty little secrets, secrets that could sink them in their gossip-hungry world. When each of them begins receiving anonymous emails and text messages, panic sets in. Are they being betrayed by some one in their circle? Worse yet: Is Alison back? A strong launch for a suspenseful series.

My Review: 

"Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead." 
-Benjamin Franklin. 

Once upon a time, there were five 'best' friends: Alison, Aria, Emily, Hanna, and Spencer. Alison is the girl everyone loves, but secretly hates because they’re envious. She is what you could call the secret keeper of the clique, the one that holds the deepest and darkest secrets of each of the girls that nobody else knows and that they wouldn't dare share with another person. Then one day, Alison disappears mysteriously during a girls' sleepover night for celebrating the end of their seventh grade. And things change. Aria's family moves to Iceland and their friendship falls apart.

Three years later, the girls begin to receive threatening texts, IMs, and notes about their secrets- past and present from an anonymous source "A".  Aria is flirting with her English teacher Ezra; Emily is hanging out more with the new neighbour girl, Maya (in a way more than just friends do); Hanna has a dirty way of keeping thin, and Spencer is out for her perfect sister Melissa's boyfriend, Wren. 
Initially they begin to think that "A" is Alison and she is back (because the secrets "A" knows were known to Alison only, not even known by the other friends.) But as Ali's dead body is found out under a concrete slab in her house, things change and so do the girls' way of thinking! The four of them- Hanna, Emily, Aria and Spencer are brought together again for the "A" secret but they hesitate to share their 'pretty little' secrets with each other.

At the beginning, I had a hard time differentiating the characters from each other, but as I got further into the book, the characters became more and more alive. My favorite was Spencer. She was nerdy (like me), and that is probably where our similarities begin and end. I really felt bad for her, being overshadowed by her older sister, clamoring for her parents to see her and pay attention to her. Aria left to live in Iceland for three years and came back to Rosewood. Hanna's story pulled at my heartstrings. I can understand her desire to be perfect and thin. Lastly, we have Emily, she is the goody-two-shoes--she does everything her parents say and doesn't complain. But secretly, she wants to give up swimming and figure out how she feels about the neighbour girl, Maya. I thought the exploration of her sexuality was well-done. No over the top drama.
The other characters--the various family members and classmates--are seen through the eyes of these girls, and they are pretty well developed too (for secondary characters). I loved Mona's transformation from Outsider to Popular girl; Andrew was sweet (even if he seemed a creepy stalker); Maya was fascinating.

The story does get you hooked and make you interested in what happens to each girl. Instead of being aloof and unmoving, I found myself drawing closer to these characters and wondering what happened next, frantically turning pages. As for the texts from the mysterious "A"-- I highlighted them all and it was they were mysterious as hell, specially the last one: “I'm still here, bitches. And I know everything."

The book ends on not-quite a cliffhanger. It's a fairly well contained story with an obvious series sequel hook.
It was a quick enjoyable read. And if you're into YA and suspense, this book is recommended for you; this is a perfect combo of the duo!


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