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Sara Shepard kills it with ‘Killer’ | Review of ‘Killer’ (Pretty Little Liars, #6)

Cynthia Ayala ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

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Hanna, Aria, Spencer, and Emily look and seem perfect—but are extremely far from it. Each of them harbors a secret they keep close to their hearts, but now the past is coming back to haunt them. Long ago, their friend Ali vanished, and when her body was discovered, it was revealed that she was murdered. Soon the girls begin to receive notes—and the harm that accompanies them. They thought everything would be okay—after all, Ali’s murderer had been arrested and their torturer, A, revealed. But old habits die hard. A new is in town, and they are deadlier than ever.

Killer is the sixth installment in the Pretty Little Liars series and the second novel in the series’ second arc.  Published by HarperTeen on June 30, 2009 and written by Sara Shepard, Killer weaves together themes of mystery, coming-of-age, suspense, and thriller to make a captivating young adult novel (that is not strictly for the young adult).

In the first story arc, put the girls through the ringer, turning their lives inside out. That mystery was solved, devastating the lives of one of the girls in particular, Hanna. This installment continues to tell the story of how they’re surviving their initial torment and how they plan to move forward, all with a new stalker in town.

The tricky part for any author is to recreate the same fear by the same set of circumstances. Of course, Shepard nails it easily. While the circumstances are the same, the girls are not, and they orbit each other much differently now, highlighting the amazing character growth in the series. The girls who were once timid and frightened now grow stronger and more determined to understand their new stalker. Hanna goes to great lengths to keep herself safe and to be there for her old friends while she becomes more perceptive of the world around her.

Each character’s personal strengths assist the other characters, keeping the novel flowing despite the shift in perspective that can often deter a reader because of the monotony. Shepard is a concise writer who is able to shift between perspectives, building the character dynamics and each individual inside plot, and weaving them together to coincide with the outer plot of the story.

Pretty Little Liars is a character-driven series, and this novel highlights why that works. In keeping the plot interesting, even if it may seem like a repetition of the first story arc, Shepard builds suspense without sacrificing character development.

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