Title: Pretty Little Liars (Pretty Little Liars #1)
Author: Sara Shepard
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Given that I watched the entire first season of the tv series based on PLL, I knew the twists and turns before the girls knew they were coming. The show follows the plot points of the first book very faithfully. That said, I very much enjoyed the book and will be reading Flawless.
PLL is a quick read, perfect mind candy and although the girls get up to some underage drinking/drugs, near/implied sex (with some, ahem, older boys), shoplifting and, as the title implies, a lot of lying/secret keeping, it felt youngish - written for the junior high crowd about the high schoolers they'll most likely idolize. Case in point, in the first chapter, when the girls had just finished their 7th grade year, I was surprised at how mature they seemed. Then three years pass, the girls are now juniors, and now I felt they weren't quite mature enough.
While the way Shepard namedrops designers can be a bit jarring at times it actually does wonders in creating the world inwhich Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily exist. Rosewood is as upper crust as you get without being on the Upper West Side. While their struggles with looks, identity, belonging, parental and peer pressure is universal, the world in which they exist is far removed from your average young adult reader. I think that adds to the appeal and also allows the author to push the envelope with what the girls get away with.
The parents are charicatures, adding to the generation gap and the isolation that leads the girls to keep their secrets and lies. Surprisingly - because one doesn't usually say this about the book to tv conversion - the parents are more fleshed out and have more depth on the small screen.
To sum up, this book felt like a prelude to the rest of the series. A 275 page set up. Again, that could have been because I have watched the series, but it's not really an insult so much as an observation. Set up needs to begin somewhere and as this was obviously written as the first in a series as opposed to a stand alone novel, there's nothing wrong with the way it breaks down.