Cynthia Ayala ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Three years ago, Alison disappeared after a slumber party and was never found. Friends at her elite Pennsylvania school mourned her, but they also breathed secret sighs of relief. Each of them guarded a secret that only Alison had known. Now they have other dirty little secrets—secrets that could sink them in their gossip-hungry world. When each of them begins receiving anonymous emails and text messages, panic sets in. Are they being betrayed by someone in their circle? Worse yet: Is Alison back?
This book is a strong launch for a suspenseful series. The moment readers pick it up they’ll be enraptured by the prologue that has breathed life into a bestselling series. Pretty Little Liars, published October 1, 2006 by Harper Collins begins with five girls in 7th grade at an annual sleepover. When they get into a bit of an argument, the head girl of the crew, Alison DiLaurentis, walks off into the night and is never seen again. The four remaining girls are grief-stricken, but relieved, as Ali harbored a deep, dark secret about each of them. Now, three years later, after the girls have grown apart, they find themselves receiving cryptic messages from someone named “A” revealing their old and new secrets.
Throughout the novel, the point of view shifts between characters as each chapter starts. Picking up three years after Ali goes missing, the shift allows the reader to grow to know the insides of the characters, what defines them and what makes them real. Readers are also able to glean which secrets they’re hiding, as well as the secret that keeps them all tied together, an event that altered ones girl’s life and kept them all scared for their futures.
It’s frighteningly thrilling to watch this mystery unravel as these girls are cyber-stalked by the mysterious A, who knows all their moves and threatens their lives, popularity, and identity. The mystery behind who A actually is offers the reader a chance to make their own speculations. That thrill, coupled with the way Shepard weaves everything together through her very real and fragile characters, creates amazing and wonderful tension throughout. With each twist and turbulent moment the characters experience, the reader’s curiosity grows while the thrill behind the mystery hooks the reader mercilessly.
This installment is a suspenseful mystery for the young adult that will instantly hook any reader with their own little secret. It’s no surprise that this novel spawned the hit ABC Family television show with the same title. ★★★★☆ (A)