The first time that I read through this book, I had just finished one of the season finales (could have been a mid-season finale) for the show and I was DESPERATE for more PLL craziness. (view spoiler) That cliff-hanger was fucked up, man, especially given my fondness of the character. But I really loved it at the time. The fact that there were differences between the TV show and these novels really had me intrigued. At first the differences related to minor details, but as I read onwards I discovered that that these changes poured over to some very important aspects (addition/removal of characters, the culprits behind certain chaotic unveiling, etc.). Unfortunately, shit really hit the fucking fan (personally) and I had to take a break from the series.
Now that I’m all caught up with the TV show again, I decided to pick the first book up this month (now that things are smooth sailing again) in an effort to make my trek through the entire book series, which consists of 16 cohesive novels and two side story/prequel type of stories.
In case if you have no idea what this series entails, let me give you a brief synopsis (spoiler free of course). There are a group of 5 friends: Aria, Spencer, Emily, Hanna, & Alison. Alison is the leader of this motley crew and a huge bully to anyone whom she deems is “unworthy” of her friendship. The other four girls maintain their friendship with her due to fear and a misplaced admiration of her beauty and influence. Alison collects secrets like most kids do baseball cards, or stuffed plushies. This begins to make the other four uncomfortable in their closeness with Ms. Bully Queen. Then one day, Alison goes missing, seemingly without a trace. The other four girls end up moving onwards with their life in the midst of this chaos until they return to the city of Rosewood three years later. The four begin to receive messages and notes from a person signed A, a person who knows all of their dark, dirty secrets.
My second time going through the pages of Pretty Little Liars wasn’t nearly as exciting my first time. A lot of that may have to do with the fact that I’m already aware of the twists and turns in this introductory instalment. There is no surprise to pop out from behind the bushes and shout “BOO” to my face. This helped me discover a couple of distinct factors about Pretty Little Liars
First realization: this is a series that definitely makes its impact on fresh and new readers. It won’t make a whomping impact on people who’ve re-read it, at least not one that’s as powerful as the first. If you’re a newbie to this, then really take the time to get suckered into it. Allow yourself to fall victim to all of the mental fucking theatrics that’s happening, get really involved. It will have a lovely impact on you. That impact may be similar to that of getting slammed by a freight train, but that collision of suspense and shock can be a wonderful feeling; to not know what the fuck’s going to happen can be rather pleasant.
My second realization: the re-read value doesn’t decrease nearly as much as I was expecting. A couple of days ago when I finally started reading this again, I went into it hesitantly. I mean I already knew what lurked in the shadows, so really how interested can I get? It swept me away, similarly to my initial read through, and even with the knowledge that I had, I still wanted to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. I was surprised by how engaged I was with these four young girls and their plight. I had a difficult time putting it down. To be perfectly blunt, if I didn’t have the gloriousness of Final Fantasy XV to distract me, I probably wouldn’t have placed it on my coffee table at all, at least not until I reached it’s end. So there’s that: you can’t help but want to know what kind of crap these crazy little girls will get themselves into.
For the technical aspects of the book, all I can say is that they are rather average. The writing isn’t bad. It’s attuned to fit a very specific audience and it does a rather swell job with it’s references to pop culture (music and films), the rising fashion trends, brands, and fads of the time period, and the conversation between all of the adolescents. The language is always natural and flowing. Most of the time with young adult books, I find myself cringing because the lingo is excruciatingly forced, trying to be “hip” and “cool,” however, thankfully Sara Shepard keeps it very smooth and human-like. Dialogue aside, I found it very pleasant that the novel doesn’t use “dumb” writing either. The books, while geared towards a soft maturity level, doesn’t stray away from the inclusion of intellectual thought and word usage. This helps folks outside of the focused audience to connect with the plot, cast, and chaos.
While my rating this time around is lower than my 4-star first impression, it’s really not taking a big hit at all. It’s still interesting with that one element (whatever the hell it is, because I haven’t been able to pin-point it) that just drives you onward with a guilty-pleasure like fascination. I recommend this to anyone who was a fan of the TV show, or genuinely enjoys tales involving teenagers that are twisted, mostly of their own naïve doing.
3.5 dirty little stalkers out of 5.