Cynthia Ayala ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
“In idyllic Rosewood, Pennsylvania, four very pretty girls just can’t help but be bad. Hanna will do anything to be Rosewood’s queen bee. Spencer’s digging up her family’s secrets. Emily can’t stop thinking about her new boyfriend. And Aria approves a little too strongly of her mom’s taste in men. Now that Ali’s killer is finally behind bars, the girls think they’re safe. But those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. And they should know by now that I’m always watching…”
The first story arc of Pretty Little Liars ended with a bang, not a whimper, with the big reveal of the identity of the mystery stalker A, who put the girls’ lives in jeopardy.
The fifth story in the Pretty Little Liars series, written by Sara Shepard, begins a new story arc as thrilling as the first. Wicked, published August 25, 2008 by HarperTeen, continues to mold a coming-of-age story within the mystery and thriller genres. The story begins with Hanna, Spencer, Emily, and Aria trying to get their lives back on track. Through group therapy sessions that finally give them the opportunity to mourn and come to terms with the death of their friend, the girls are trying to put Ali to rest. Moreover, with a suspected murderer behind bars, the girls think they are able to do it.
Then new notes and messages signed by A begin to pop up. There is a new stalker in town who is watching them, and by the end of the novel, it’s clear that whoever it is means business.
Once again, this novel shifts between character perspectives to build the plot. Shepard highlights Hanna, Emily, Spencer, and Aria in turn as each tries to figure out how to live her very fragile life, which the previous A nearly destroyed. Not only did A change the girls’ worlds, but A also shattered their identities, breaking the mirror and revealing who they really were underneath all the makeup, and pushing them to the brink of despair in the process.
However, as a unique coming-of-age novel, this book forced the readers to analyze the characters and determine whether or not each character deserves sympathy. While on the surface the characters, especially Hanna, seem like the epitome of superficiality, each shift in chapter allows the reader to see how fragile all of the characters are underneath the surface. This humanizes the characters, making them relatable to the reader and making each character’s growth distinctive.
As with the first four novels, the girls are changed by the events of the book by the story’s end. Their fears either reveal their darker sides or help them overcome their insecurities. With that in mind, the character development is well done and, as the inside plot around each character becomes stronger, so does the overall outside plot of the story. The novel builds perfectly, creating the air of suspense by dropping little hints here and there that these four girls are far from safe. The reader knows what’s coming, can sense it, but by the time the reader reaches the end, they will still be caught off guard.
Wicked is a great book for existing fans of Pretty Little Liars and a good hook for new readers. It sums up the previous circumstances while also giving fans, old and new, a new mystery to unravel.
This “A” is far more dangerous than the first. ★★★ ½ (out of 5 ☆’s | B+)