Title: Pretty Little Liars
Author: Sara Shepard
Published: October 2006
Rating: 6 out of 10
Cover Synopsis: Spencer covets her sister’s boyfriend. Aria’s fantasizing about her English teacher. Emily’s crushing on the new girl at school. And Hanna uses some ugly tricks to stay beautiful.
But they’ve all kept an even bigger secret since their friend Alison vanished.
How do I know? Because I know everything about the bad girls they were and the naughty girls they are now. And guess what? I’m telling.
Review: I decided to read this book in a kind of strange way. After Maureen Johnson made a post about the gender inequality of book covers, I was reading the “coverflip” tag on Tumblr and came across one for Pretty Little Liars. This flip was cool because instead of a barbie-esque doll on the cover, it focused more on the dark side of the book and I was instantly intrigued. I had, of course, seen the series in bookstores before and vaguely knew of the TV show but based on the cover, I assumed it was shallow and lame. Therefore, I never even picked it up to read the back of the book – after reading the coverflip post, I realized I was part of the problem and ordered the first book.
My fears about the book were not completely unfounded. There is a little too much focus on what stores they shop at, what brands they’re wearing, etc for my taste. I’m not that kind of person and I tend to find that kind of person vapid. Yes it’s judgemental, but hey, this is a review right? After I finished the book, though, I’m giving the author the benefit of the doubt. By focusing on these “pretty” details of the characters, it was a great juxtaposition for the darker secrets they’re hiding.
Basic summary is this: the four girls had a friend, Alison, who went missing several years ago. This friend knew secrets about all the girls. Now, after a new family moves into Alison’s house, someone is texting/emailing/IMing these secrets to the girls, leading them to believe Alison is back. But is she?
The secrets are what kept me reading. They all share a secret in regards to “The Jenna Thing” which, best I can tell so far, is a prank that went terribly wrong. They all were secretly relieved when Ali went missing because their secrets were, theoretically safe. Emily tends to have romantic feelings for girls, Spencer strives to be better than her sister and does so by making out with her boyfriends, Aria is dating her teacher and Hanna has an eating disorder. Pretty standard high school, mean girl secrets. But “The Jenna Thing” has me intrigued and when, *SPOILERS*, Alison turns out to have been dead this whole time, I really want to know who else knows all these things.
These girls are struggling with growing up in a world full of pressures, growing apart and now, what really happened to Alison. And who is really sending these messages to them.
While it wasn’t the greatest book I’ve ever read, it was interesting enough for me to order the second one. There are several books in the series and I’m hoping that they don’t stretch the lingering secrets out for too long in an effort to sell more books – which is always a concern.