Wednesday, October 26, 2011

YA Fiction: Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard

Series: Pretty Little Liars #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: 2006
Format: paperback
Acquired: borrowed from a friend
Read: for Teen Book Club
Pages: 286
Reading time: three days

From GoodReads: 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, signed only by A, panic sets in. Are they being betrayed by some one in their circle? Worse yet: Is Alison back?

In one sentence: a poorly written mystery used as an excuse to write preppy, preposterous teen drama. I'm assuming Shepard was primarily writing for other preppy, melodramatic teens, because I could barely identify with her characters. I came close when they were describing their junior-year issues with school, college preparations, and high academic expectations, but the similarity ended there. Ms. Shepard, if you throw around designer names, I have no idea what you're talking about, and it's irrelevant to characterizations and plot development. If you describe a rural farming Pennsylvania town as one with twenty+ room mansions and prep schools, I think you're crazy. If the first book of your mystery series consists primarily of girly prep-school drama that defies my expectations of how teenagers actually act (and I'm a teenager, I should know), I'm never going to pick up the rest of the series.

It wasn't all bad. There were some really exciting moments to the story, when the mystery part decided to peek its head around the four girls' relationships. (With regards to relationships, Hanna's and Emily's seem realistic but not Spencer's and Aria's.) Other than that - meh. There are both better mysteries and better romance-drama novels. I'm not planning to pick up the rest of the series. There's, what, nine books currently out and more planned? I don't feel like it's worthwhile to invest my time in a series that just keeps getting more and more drawn out. From what my friends (who, incidentally, have enjoyed the books) have told me, the storyline continues to get more twisted, to the point of seeming unrealistic and preposterous (spoiler alerts: multiple As, long-lost twins, and, guess what, more drama).

Maturity Factor: Language and sexual situations.

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