Book(s) Summarized Review: Pretty Little Liars (Books 1-4)

With Season 3 leaving us all wondering what the girls found in Detective Wilden’s trunk, I was determined to get ahead of the game and read the entire Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard before the start of Season 4. I almost made that goal, rather, I read the first four books, which translates to the end of season 2 in tv time.

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What’s in Wilden’s trunk?! Actually… I know what it is, but I’m not telling you!

For those of you who don’t know, Pretty Little Liars is about five best friends: Alison, Aria, Spender, Hanna and Emily. Alison, or Ali, was the ringleader of the group. If it wasn’t for Ali, the other girls wouldn’t have become friends; they are the hand-chosen friends of the most popular girl in Rosewood, Pennsylvania. Naturally, all the girls have distinct personalities: Aria, the artsy hipster friend; Spencer, the studious friend; Hanna, the (current) fashionista; and Emily, the sporty friend.

Alison DiLaurentis, Rosewood’s sweetheart, is still missing, with no word whether she is still alive. Unfortunately, the four remaining friends have drifted apart after Ali’s disappearance (partly because there was no Ali to keep them together, partly because of the Jenna Thing). Things in Rosewood aren’t the same with Ali gone, and it feels like she’s still out there.

Once Aria returns from having spent time abroad in Iceland with her family, she and the rest of the girls start receiving anonymous messages signed by someone called “A.” These messages refer to secrets that only Ali knew. Could she still be alive? Did Ali share their secrets? How is this A person always one step ahead? Soon after the A messages begin, Ali’s body is found in her backyard while it was being dug up by the new residents. With Ali’s death confirmed, the girls are further scared by A’s threats and grow closer together. Pretty Little Liars is about four girls growing closer together as friends while trying to discover the truth about Alison, her disappearance, Alison’s own secrets, A and much more.

As for the books…

Pretty Little Liars (Book #1) is basically the first episode of the show, except with more detailed descriptions of the Aria, Hanna, Spencer and Emily’s personalities, families and their friendships with Ali (in other words: context). The four girls became friends with Ali in 7th grade and were shocked someone as popular as her would invite them to be her new clique. The girls trusted Ali, shared secrets with her and never said no to her. However, it was the night of their 7th grade ended they had their end-of-the-year sleepover Ali disappeared.

Three years later, we’re at the start of 10th grade. Aria moved back to Rosewood after spending 3 years with her family in Iceland (as opposed to the 1 year the show suggests). With more time having past, the strain on all four girls’ friendships is more evident and plausible. The first book ends with the girls at Ali’s funeral reading the infamous text: “I’m still here, bitches. And I know everything. -A”

I could go on and on about the book/show, tell you what happens, swap theories and tell you who A is (we find out who the first A is at the end of book 4/season 2! Have I said too much?), but I won’t. Instead, I will tell you that the book does keep you interested in the facts, flashbacks and scandal (Sean, Hanna’s Sean, starts dating Aria for a bit; Lucas and Hanna hit it off faster than they do in the show; Spencer and Wren do a little more than kiss; and Emily gets shipped to Iowa for falling in love with Maya, the girl who moved into Ali’s old house). The show added a few more story lines to keep viewers guessing and entertains (Caleb doesn’t exist in the books, ladies! At least not in the first four… And Ian is still around when the first A is revealed, hm…).

If you’re looking for a YA book series that will get you turning pages faster than Goodnight, Moon, I recommend picking up the Pretty Little Liars series. In one way or another, what happened that fateful night at the end of 7th grade is coming back to reveal new facts about  Ali, whom the girls all thought they knew pretty well. But the one they were telling their secrets to never shared her own.

Don’t believe me on how quickly you can read these books?

I only read on the train to and from work; so about two hours of my day are devoted to reading. I finished these 330-ish page books within about 3 days each. That’s 6 hours per book. That’s 24 hours for the first four books! There are 13 books currently in the series (and two 0.5 books but they don’t count right now). With only 9 remaining for me, that means: 9*6=54/24=2.25 days. Basically, I can finish reading the series if I start Friday night and continue through Sunday midnight without any interruptions or sleep. Hello weekend!

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All-weekend reading? Challenge accepted!

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