Janelle Dazzlepants's Reviews > Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
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's review
Jan 14, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: chick-lit, mystery, young-adult, murder-mystery, whodunnit
Read from January 08 to 10, 2011

*** Slight spoilers if you haven't read the books, watched the show, or even seen an ad for it ***

I began watching the Pretty Little Liars tv show a few days ago and was instantly hooked. It's like a visually beautiful yet evil cross between Gossip Girl and season 1 of Desperate Housewives. I'm desperate to know the secret behind A and Ali's death, so I decided to pick up the books and figure it out for myself (rather than just lurking Wikipedia!). As such, my perception and review of the book is going to draw a lot of comparisons to the tv show.

In comparison to the show, not a whole lot happens in the book. While watching the show I wondered how the books related to the season - for example, each season of True Blood corresponds to one of the books. Since there's 8 books I figured it wouldn't be the same (and if it were, I would DIE if it took 8 seasons to reveal everything), but I was surprised to find that the events in this book are summed up in 4-5 episodes. Granted, the chronology is different, and Ali's body is found at the end of the book rather than at the start, like the pilot would suggest.

But when I say that 'not a whole lot happens in the book', I don't necessarily mean this as a bad thing. It's certainly not like Twilight where literally NOTHING happens until the last 50 pages where the author throws in some battle or chase. But in contrast to the show, I certainly thought the book would be longer and more substantial.

It almost feels too short , like the author should've combined two books into one. However, I do realise this is young adult, and I appreciate how easy it was to breeze through - it means I'll be finding out all the answers sooner than later!

All that being said (and yes, I do realise my thoughts are all over the place!), I think the story and chronology works well considering its length. I liked that Ali's body wasn't uncovered until the end of the story, and the creepy group text from A closed the book. I can appreciate the chronology in both the tv show and book, and I think they work well for both mediums.

One thing I almost wish they had included in the tv show was the awesome epilogue from A! The first few episodes of the tv show make it seem as if Ali really is speaking from beyond the grave, and then it becomes gradually clearer that somebody else is the culprit. The epilogue where A literally speaks to the reader is much better at clearing this up, and closes the book on a really creepy and sinister note.

Because this book was so short and insubstantial, I can't really comment too much more on it, though I do have one major pet peeve thus far - the brand names. This book is great at combining female-targeted YA with a creepy mystery, but I feel like it's going to be horribly dated in a few years. The author tries so hard to randomly throw in popular brand names, and it's often just cringe-worthy.

Why did I need to know that Noel smelled like Kiehl's shaving cream (actually, how would Aria know that?!), and why was it necessary to tell us that Emily and her sister have such stumpy lashes that they couldn't live without Maybelline Great Lash? - which is probably the world's worst mascara, but I digress. The brands are thrown in so awkwardly and unnecessarily, and although it shows the materalism of the characters, it mostly just makes me cringe.

I think the author is doing herself an injustice by dating her books with these product placements, and that future readers will be unable to relate to these likely irrelevant brand references. I think a few brands thrown in here and there would be better, rather than each page reading like "hey, I know what kids think is cool these days! I swear I do!"

On a more positive note, I like how similar the characters are between book and tv show - while the characters' appearances differ, their personalities are essentially the same. It's not like Vampire Diaries where Elena was an unrelatable bitch in the books, and had to be completely revamped as a nice person for the tv show. I think this is a great compliment to the author and the characters she created, that they didn't require huge changes to be likeable and relatable.

Overall:.....Wow. Considering the book was so short and I didn't think I'd be able to review it very well, I sure wrote a lot! I'll try to keep it brief here: overall, the tv show is very faithful to the first book of the series, though that book only equates to 4-5 episodes. It's a quick and easy read, though it feels almost too short.

The brand mentions are cringe-worthy, and as a result the book may very well be irrelevant in 5 years. In general though, it's good entertainment value, and I'll be reading on to uncover the answers. I may be able to give more indepth reviews on the characters and storylines as I continue to read on, and get into the books that the tv show hasn't covered yet.
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Quotes Janelle Liked

Sara Shepard
“I'm still here, bitches. And I know everything." -A”
Sara Shepard, Pretty Little Liars

Reading Progress

01/08/2011 page 35
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