Friday, August 3, 2012

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

(Pretty Little Liars series, book 1)
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 on in their circle? Worse yet: Is Alison back?

Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” – Benjamin Franklin

Here’s the lowdown: I have been watching Pretty Little Liars since the first episode, and am hooked on the show. I knew it stemmed from a book series, but I hadn’t read them yet and after I watched the show, I didn’t really have any intentions of reading the series. I have a hard time reading a book after I’ve already seen the movie or started watching the TV show. It takes away some of the imagination. I don’t picture the characters how I want; I picture them as they were on screen. Any who, a friend read the books and said they were really good so I decided to cave and read the damn books. Fortunately so far (I’m only on the second book), it hasn’t been a bad decision. 

The majority of this book is to introduce us to the five best friends – Alison, Aria, Spencer, Hanna, and Emily. Alison is the queen bee; she’s pretty, popular, and devious. All the girls want to be her, and all the guys want to date her. Aria is the “kooky” friend; she has pink highlights in her dark hair, knits her own bras, and is dealing with keeping a secret regarding her father. Spencer is the overachiever; she strives for perfection in everything from academics to field hockey. Hanna is the chubby friend; she is given the nickname ‘Hefty Hanna’ by Alison, and has had a crush on Sean Ackard, one of the most popular guys in school, for years. Lastly, Emily is…the confused friend; she’s athletic and senses that maybe she cares more for Alison than just on a friendship level. One night while they are all having a slumber party, Alison storms off and is never seen again…

Cut to three years later: the girls are juniors in high school, Alison is still missing, and the four remaining friends have drifted apart. Aria has just moved back from Iceland, and is having some secret student-teacher conferences with her English teacher; Spencer is harboring a crush on her sister’s fiancĂ©; Hanna lost weight, got a new wardrobe, started dating Sean Ackard, and is now known as Rosewood’s “It Girl”, and Emily is still struggling with her sexuality as she discovers a new friendship with Maya. So what finally brings the four friends back together? Text messages and emails from the mysterious –A, who threatens them with the notion of exposing their past and present secrets. The four of them start to think that there is only one person who could know about their past secrets, like The Jenna Thing, and that person is Alison. So does this mean Alison is back? If so, why she is doing this to them? And the scarier question…if Alison isn’t back, who else knows their secrets?

If I hadn’t already started watching the show, I would have enjoyed the book a little more. Emily, Hanna, and Mona are all described so differently in the books than they are in the show that I had to just skip over any parts that referenced their looks. Aside from that (and the fact that they all seem to be avid smokers) there wasn’t much difference from the show. Even though I already know who –A is it doesn’t completely ruin the story because I like reliving the mystery all over again. I believe this is considered a teen series, but I enjoyed the first book and I’m clearly not a teenager. It’s a fast read, and with my knowledge from the show, I can assume that the following books will continue to get even better!

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