Book Review: The Pretty Little Liars Series

Sara Shepard expertly created a cast of unforgettable characters and gripping plotline that will keep young readers on the edge of their seats, wanting more.

The Pretty Little Liars series follow the story of four teenage girls: Spencer Hastings, Aria Montgomery, Emily Fields and Hanna Marin, whose lives are turned upside down when someone who goes by the name of A perpetually torments them with vicious threats. The question is: who is A? That is where the mystery lies until the end of the eighth book, Wanted.

When these girls were in sixth grade, Alison DiLaurentis, the most beautiful and popular girl in Rosewood Day Prep School, chose them to be her best friends. Alison transformed Hanna, Emily, Aria and Spencer into Queen-Bees, but she also learnt all of their secrets and dangled those secrets in their faces the way a heartless person would. Then, the evening after their seventh grade graduation, Alison disappeared. Three years later, her body was discovered in a dug-up, cement-filled hole in her parents’ back yard.

Shortly after Alison’s body is discovered, Spencer, Hanna, Aria and Emily begin to receive threats from A. As if grieving the loss of a good friend isn’t enough hardship for the four girls to bear.

Just when the mystery of A’s identity is about to be revealed, every potential suspect turns out to be innocent or…otherwise.

Shepard portrays the trauma and drama that all four girls experience in a way that is both realistic and relatable.

Spencer’s parents place high expectations on her and her older sister, Melissa. They also have a tendency to favor Melissa. So, Spencer works incredibly hard to outshine everyone in school-including Melissa-just to win her parents’ love and admiration.

Hanna’s parents are divorced and off living their own lives, too busy to care for her. Her mother accepts a high profile job in Singapore and Hanna’s father marries Isabelle Randall, who has a beautiful daughter, named Kate.

In seventh grade, Hanna used to be overweight, and Alison used to tease her mercilessly about it. As a result, Hanna became bulimic and overly obsessed with being pretty, popular and thin. Hanna suffers endless heartbreaks: she’s almost killed by her best friend, Mona Vanderwaal, then finds out later that Mona was A-the first A. Hanna wants desperately to be popular, but is always sidelined by her stepsister Kate. To make matters worse, Hanna’s father dotes on Kate, while ignoring his real daughter.

Emily discovers she’s bisexual. After dating a boy named Ben Coogan, she falls for Maya St. Germain. Later, she falls for a boy named Isaac Colbert, then sleeps with him and gets pregnant. She gives the baby up for adoption, but must keep her pregnancy a secret from her overly strict parents, a thing that pains Emily beyond words.

Aria is an artist and a loner until she meets Alison DiLaurentis. After Alison’s death, she has to come to grips with the pain of her parents’ separation while working to maintain a romantic relationship with her handsome English teacher, Ezra Fitz, a secret.

On top of everything, these girls have to deal with A’s threats. And, like most teenagers do, they suffer alone in silence until their lives and relationships are threatened.

Each Pretty Little Liar book contains equal amounts of suspense, mystery and conflict that will keep readers engaged, expecting more.