April 23, 2015
The book series Pretty Little Liars starts off as the story of a group of four sixteen-year-old girls who used to be friends but have lost contact in the past three years. On their last day of seventh grade, they had an argument with the mean girl ringleader of their group, Ali, who then stormed off into the night and was never heard from again. In the present day, the four girls who have lost touch over the years are struggling with their own personal problems. Emily likes girls (specifically her new neighbour, Maya) and is worried what her family would think if they knew. Spencer has a crush on her older sister’s boyfriend. Aria meets a cute new guy who turns out to be her new English teacher. Hanna uses some dangerous methods to make sure she stays thin. At the beginning of the school year, Ali’s body is discovered under the gazebo of her family’s former home. Shortly after the funeral the girls start receiving anonymous text messages from a mysterious someone calling themselves “A” who bullies and stalks them while threatening to reveal their secrets.
In December, Sara Shepard’s final book in the Pretty Little Liars series was released. After sixteen books the author decided it was finally time to put an end to A’s tormenting of Hanna, Spencer, Aria, and Emily. The series initially started off as eight books—one mystery was resolved after book 4, and a bigger, overarching mystery in book 8. The ending was really unsettling and satisfying. It gave me the same uncomfortable feelings I got after I first watched “Vertigo” by Alfred Hitchcock. Around the same time that book eight, Wanted, came out, the Pretty Little Liars TV show started and became a huge hit. It was recently announced that there will be two more seasons and then it will end after season 7. The show deviates from the books in a lot of ways but is very entertaining in its own right. (Unfortunately I fell behind a while back but have every intention of catching up before the end!) There was also a Pretty Little Liars spinoff show called “Ravenswood” but it was cancelled after ten episodes.
Sara Shepard wrote another six-book mystery series, The Lying Game, which I also loved, though I was severely disappointed in the ending. It also got a TV series though it was not as successful as the Pretty Little Liars show and was cancelled after two seasons. Shepard also decided that she wasn’t quite finished writing Pretty Little Liars books and started writing new ones. They started off mysterious enough—the girls had gotten themselves into new situations that they were desperate to keep secret, and a new “A” is all too ready to exploit them. They weren’t quite up to par with the first eight books, but I was still enjoying them, as I assumed she was only writing four more. Then I learned that she was actually writing EIGHT more and had to raise an eyebrow—dragging out one mystery for eight more books? A’s seeming omnipotence started to get a little too farfetched. My favourite comment about this is from Ian Harding, who plays Ezra on the television show:
The last books were a bit of a slog to get through, but I was determined to find out how it all played out. The final book, Toxic, was pretty exciting as everything FINALLY came to a head. But in general, it seemed the author was phoning it in for