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58 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Okay, I found out about this book from one of my freshmen. She brought it in one day and asked me if I could please read it, because she absolutely LOVED the book and needed someone to talk to about it....and said that her friends weren't really "into reading." I took the book home, thinking that I'd get around to it later.....maybe next week. Maybe not. I was wrong. I started reading when I got home and couldn't put the book down. You won't want to put it down either. It really IS that good.

Other reviews have basically told the story here: five friends are bound by a secret, referred to as "the Jenna thing," until one of the girls, Alison, goes missing at the end of their seventh grade year. Skip ahead to eleventh grade, when the remaining four girls begin receiving alarming text messages. It's a mystery that grabs you and won't let go.

I've seen several copies of this book (and #2 Flawless) floating around our school lately, thanks to word of mouth advertising. I'm 30something and LOVED the book...my students are 14-18 years old and also love it. Friendship, mystery, boys, all of the big topics pop up in this book. Grab a copy and get hooked!
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64 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2006
The summer after seventh grade started out fine, but when Alison "Ali," one of Rosewood, Pennsylvania's most popular girls vanished, things changed. While her closest friends (Spencer, Aria, Hanna, and Emily) have all moved on, and are now juniors in high school, she was never seen again. The girls, wanting to move away from the secrets Ali took with her, broke apart, and made new friends. Putting the scandalous past behind them. Spencer began competing non-stop with her older sister, Melissa, for her parents affections, but one little slip-up, and her good girl image is shattered; Aria moved away to Iceland, but has returned, only to find that everyone she used to know (including the guy she was always crushing on) has stayed the same, stagnant, stuck in one place; Emily has tried to move on, and forget about the feelings she held for Ali, but when a new girl moves into Ali's old room, she must come to terms with the truth; and Hanna, who went from "little piggy" to Paris Hilton-wannabe, has found herself in deep water, being questioned by the police on an almost weekly basis. But now, they must confront their old secrets, and join forces once again, for someone known only as "A" is onto them. Someone who knows things about them that only Ali knew. Someone who gets off on sending them threatening messages. Now the girls are confused, since Ali was never found, how on earth could she be contacting them. She should be dead. She should be on some other plane, millions of miles from them. But maybe...she's not.

I have one guilty pleasure. No, it's not chocolate, or sweets. In fact, it has nothing to do with food. It's books about the rich. Their scandalous lives, and the constant shopping they spend most of their time doing. But no YA book has come even close to the amount of scandal found within the pages of Sara Shepard's PRETTY LITTLE LIARS. From page one I was intrigued by the secrets that these four (or should I say five?) girls shared. From blow-ups to make-ups, and everything in between. The characters found within these pages are beyond young and beautiful. There's an evil that lurks around them. An evil that is unexplainable and addicting. Each girl possesses her very own unique personality. Personalities that will draw readers in, in droves, and keep them reading long into the night. From Spencer's wandering eyes; to Aria's fondness for older men; and Hanna's thirst for attention; to Emily's constant confusion regarding her relationships; every reader will find the ability to mesh with one of these...scandalous characters. As satisfying as a pint of Ben & Jerry's...without the calories.

Erika Sorocco

Freelance Reviewer
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2010
The beginning of the Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard, starts out with five best friends Hanna, Spencer, Aria, Emily and most importantly their leader Alison who lived in a very exclusive neighbored called Rosewood. They are having their end of the year summer slumber party in Spencer's barn. Spencer and Ali get into an argument. Ali leaves the barn and disappears. From then on, their best friend Alison was missing until three years later when Spencer, Hanna, Aria and Emily are in 11th grade and begin to get taunting messages from someone called "A" about deep dark secrets that only Ali knew. There is one big secret from sixth grade the "Jenna Thing" that they thought was safe, but their not so sure anymore. "A" will do ANYTHING to ruin these four high school juniors. This book is filled with mystery and the secrets of these four pretty little liars. "...Ali knew more about them than anyone else did,
including the bad stuff they wanted to bury--just like
a body. It was horrible to think Ali might be dead,
but...if she was, at least their secrets were safe.
And they were. For three years, anyway."

What I liked about this book was the mystery of Ali's disappearance and who "A" was? I enjoyed the little clues that the author drops into the story about what happened that first night of summer. I also enjoyed that each chapter focuses on Spencer, Aria Emily or Hanna and their sub plots. I do enjoy the hooks because it makes you want to read more. This book is hard to put down and is so exciting because of all the suspense. This book would be great for young teenage girls cause you can really relate to Spencer, Aria, Hanna, and Emily and their fashion references.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2009
Imagine you are BFF with the most popular girl in school. Everyone else wants to be you. Of course you love the power you have that so many people are envious of you, but secretly you truly wonder if being her BFF is a blessing or a curse. Now imagine it's the start of the summer between seventh and eighth grade and you and your BFF are celebrating by having your annual summer sleepover. Things don't go quite as planned and the two of you end up fighting and she walks out of your house. The very next morning you hear from her mom and you just know something terrible has happened. Suddenly days turn into weeks and before you know it the summer has ended, school has started and still no word from your BFF. She just simply disappeared off the face of the earth. Although you do not wish her any harm, you have to admit, there's a part of you that's relieved that she's gone. You start to feel freer and less burdened because all the secrets she knows about you, have vanished along with her. Horrible to think, some might say, but if they knew what she knew about you, they might feel exactly the same.

This is how it is for Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily. Alison, Ali, disappears during their slumber party. After her disappearance, the four friends gradually drift apart until no one can even recall they were once friends. It's now three years later and the teens are about to start their junior year. Spencer is very anal, in competition with her older sister about everything (and a certain someone); Hanna is now the new "it" girl, but carries a terrible secret about her drastic makeover; Aria is back from Iceland with her family and has a crush on a new boy, unfortunately she just found out he's her new English teacher; and Emily is the all-american good girl doing what she can to please her parents, that is until she meets Maya...

All four have secrets, secrets that they want to stay buried. Secrets that only one other person knows about: Ali. During the first week of school, each start to receive texts about their secrets, threatening to expose them. Each text is simply signed "A" and naturally the girls think Ali is back. But is she? Not only does "A" haunt them with their past, "A" knows what they are hiding now. It's as though each girl is being watched.

I really enjoyed this first book of the series and devoured it in one sitting. It's fast-paced, with short chapters and you just want to keep reading to learn more about what each girl is hiding. The story goes back and forth between past and present, but it's not confusing at all. After each girl receives a text, the author will go back to the past to explain its relevancy. Actually, I thought it added to the suspense.

Although this is a young adult novel, I have reservations about preteens reading it. There are mature themes discussed in the book and if younger children read it, I suggest the parents read it as well and have a conversation about these topics.
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91 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2012
I am a director of education and read contemporary juvenile and young adult literature so that I am aware of what many students are reading. I was SHOCKED by the contents and characters in this book. I found the characters to be plucked straight from TV shows that are aimed at adults and the plot developed as a situational comedy/drama.

I do not think that it is an appropriate book for any youth in high school or younger to read. The author has placed her teen age characters in adult situations. In addition, none of the adults in the book is a good parental model. The adults are immature, self absorbed, and emotionally still adolescents. The teen aged characters lie, drink, do drugs, steal cars, have sexual encounters with teachers, have sexual encounters with older young adults (one character goes after her college-age sister's boyfriend who is in medical school.) and show no remorse or examination of conscience for their actions.

I find such behavior in high school sophomores to be highly inappropriate for a book aimed at middle- and high-school students.

On page 88 the author refers to one mother as a MILF. This means means "Mother I'd Like to F*#%", I couldn't believe that an editor and publisher allowed it to appear in a book for youth.

I am not a prude, but I do believe that books for youth should not further sexualize teen girls and young woman, especially through situations that have them lusting after older men (who are happy to return the lust).

It is a sad reflection of our society that editors and publishers believe that this book is appropriate for youth. But, they are as greedy and driven by market success and money as the characters in the book, no matter the true cost to others and the harm done in the long run.

Equally shocking to me are the parents who allow their children to read these books without first reading, reviewing, or at least reading reviews of them. Parents NEED to parent. Just because a book in labeled and marketed as Young Adult does not mean that the book is appropriate for youth. It is negligent (if not criminal) that this book is able to be published and marketed as a book for Young Adults.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2013
It isn't fair for me to rate this book; I really wish that Amazon.com would let me just discuss the book without rating it at all. I'm not only not the correct target demographic -- clearly tweens and teens -- but I fall into the reviled substrata of the novel: earnest smart girl. I don't know how much I would have liked the book at 15, much less at 55. If you hated -- just hated -- high school, chances are that mean girls like these were the reason why.

The novel begins with an alliance amongst five seventh-grade students who become the mean girls clique of Rosewood Day School, located in a thinly veiled Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The leader of the pack, Allison DiLaurentis, the meanest of the girls, disappears suddenly, and the clique dissolves. But the four remaining girls -- Spencer Hastings, Hanna Marin, Aria Montgomery and Emily Fields -- continue as shallow as ever; indeed, no hermit was ever as devoted to God as these girls are to Abercrombie & Fitch. They're self-centered to the point of narcissism with a breath-taking sense of entitlement, and haven't a clue as to the lives of the average American. They're virtually a parody of the progeny of the 1 percent. Occupy Wall Street couldn't come up with cruder poster children for the evils of economic inequality.

Soon after the girls embark on their junior year, Allison's corpse turns up, but the quartet begin receiving threatening text messages from "A." Has Allison's ghost returned for revenge? Emily, Hanna, Aria and Spencer -- especially Emily -- have terrible secrets that would ruin their lives. Is there an "A" who hates Allison and her former posse enough to reveal their secrets? Or is "A" one of the girls themselves? After all, who but the five of them knew these secrets?

To tell the truth, I just couldn't make myself care. The premise -- texts from beyond the grave, so to speak -- seemed quite intriguing. With a more likeable group of girls, I know I could well have enjoyed this book. But the eponymous Pretty Little Liars had more in common with the usual cruel villains of a novel than the protagonists.

You know who you are: As my friend Emily Erkan used to say, If you like this kind of thing, this is just the kind of thing you'd like. Just count me out. I think most adults will agree.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2014
Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard. I had a chance to get this for free, so I thought I'd give myself a chance to read some YA directed toward girls. It's the first of a three-book series, and apparently the source for a television series. It's published by Harper-Collins.

I consider it to be vile pornography of the worst sort - - something that makes immoral/improper/risky behavior "cool" because the cool, bright, high-performing, pretty, rich girls are doing it. [SPOILERS FOLLOW] In chapter one, Emily smokes a joint for the first time, although she is on the swim team, and presumably signed an oath against drug and alcohol use. In chapter two, Aria goes to a college bar (she's about to start her high school Junior year) gets wasted - - by the way, she'll have to drive her younger brother home from lacrosse practice when this is over - - flirts with a young man (a college graduate) who takes her to the ladies room where it seems they have sex, although later chapters seem to indicate they didn't go so far - - but why would you go into a dirty bathroom to makeout? She had let him fondle her at the bar. In chapter three, Hanna shoplifts a bracelet and earrings from Tiffany's. In chapter four, Spencer (a girl) flirts with her sister's live-in boyfriend, a young man in medical school who is about to move into her parent's guest house - - gosh, I wonder where that's headed. The author presumably believed that at least half of her characters needed to be role models for age-inappropriate relationships. That introduces the four main characters.

Later, the swimmer enters into a lesbian relationship (only kissing and touching) with a new girl, because all serious girl athletes are lesbians, right? New girl makes Emily second-guess the whole athlete thing later (this lesbian thread is mainly objectionable for its clichés - - girl athlete is lesbian, she comes to realize she is a lesbian because it was cool whenever she kissed a girl - - not like she realized she had feelings for girls when she wasn't kissing them - - her black friend from California is a pothead and the aggressor, becoming a lesbian and smoking one joint makes her give up long-held goals . . .).

Aria finds out in English class that the hookup from the bar is her English teacher. He initially calls it quits, but, because a 16-17-year-old girl who could get him fired is too exciting, they get back together, spending a night naked in bed together, but they didn't go all the way. Right. Maybe 17 is below the age of consent in PN, where this is set, and the author didn't want to get charged with child pornography. IMO, it would have been better to just fade to black and not mention what they did.

Hanna does get caught for the shoplifting and has to go to the police station with her mother. She later wrecks a boyfriend's father's BMW that she stole while she was drunk (there is plenty of casual and abusive alcohol usage in this book, and parents who allow their children to drink at home). Her mother eventually gets all the charges dropped by sleeping with the arresting officer. Gosh, isn't she a great mother! The mother brings the officer home to do the deed while Hanna is there, too.

Spencer is about to screw her sister's boyfriend when the sister looks in the window and sees them. Buzzkill. Boyfriend kicked out of the house, and parents totally blame Spencer (great parenting, that). Boyfriend leaves house, but comes back, in stalker fashion, when parents are gone - - again because smart, handsome men in their early-to-mid twenties can't say no to 16-17-year-old girls, regardless of the consequences.

There is a mystery plot woven through all of this - - the girls are getting emails and texts from their friend who disappeared and was presumed dead in 7th grade. The emails knew details of their past and current bad behavior, and are sent at the time they are committing them. (The explanation for someone knowing about the girls' past with the dead girl was set up in the first chapters - - when new people moved into the dead girl's house, they dumped all her stuff on the street for anyone to pick up, although the girls never thought of this). Near the end, the dead friend is found, buried in her backyard. Yeah, the police totally wouldn't bother checking some new construction that involved some earth moving that had happened when she disappeared.

At the funeral, the girls see Jenna, her brother, and guide dog. Several times, the girls had mentioned the "Jenna incident" that happened when their dead friend was around, but never gave a clue about it. Nor do they in this novel. Apparently that will be the focus of book two, perhaps along with finding out who killed their friend.

I really want to punch the MFA-educated writer of this crap in the throat.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 28, 2010
I admit that I love chick lit and a wickedly riveting series, such as the Pretty Little Liars Series. These girls drop designer names the way insecure people drop names at social gatherings.

Dramatis Personae

Alison "Ali" DeLaurentis: a bright, popular girl who led a clique of other rich, indulged girls. Alison has social clout, so being accepted by her is a way to ensure a leg up the social ladder. The other girls are more satellites to her sun; they are more subjects to Her Royal Majesty, Queen Alison. The girls live in Rosewood, a suburb of Philadelphia on the Main Line. They drop designer names at the drop of a designer hat. Ali, known for insidious cruelty has plenty of secrets. So do the other girls, all of whom have good reason to want Ali to do a permanent disappearing act.

Aria, an attractive, athletic brunette who was glad to escape Rosewood for Iceland. She has a yak-fur bag to which she is inordinately attached. It is her security blanket. Her father accepts a teaching position there and for 3 years, Aria and her younger brother by 2 years Mike, learn Icelandic and absorb Icelandic culture. Unlike Mike, Aria wants to remain in Iceland. She has a painful non-Ali related secret - she caught her father cheating with another woman. Once back in town, she picks up an older man in a bar and once school starts, discovers that her Ezra is her English teacher! She knows how to play to get an A!

Spencer, the grind. She tends to sputter at the drop of a designer hat. She earns As and other academic plaudits for real. She has long been eclipsed by her favored older sister, Melissa and when she steals Melissa's boyfriend for the second time, her cold-hearted family ostracizes her. Melissa, a pompous Drama Queen has long reveled in her Favored Daughter status and you just want to kick her in the shins.*

Hanna, the former fat girl now turned femme fatale is the weakest link in the chain. Bulimic and insecure, she has now linked forces with another social outcast. Together, they drop designer names and flaunt fashion like it's going out of style. Hanna's relationship with her divorced mother is more like business associates than family. Her father's fiancee Isabel has a daughter Kate who is Hanna's age and Hanna feels that Kate has replaced her. She does not have a good relationship with her father either and engages in illegal activities.

Emily discovers that love comes in the most unexpected places. She discovers her family's true colors of bigotry as she also learns some things about herself.

The girls band together after Ali sets the wheels in motion for the traumatic incident with devastating repercussions they call "the Jenna Thing." Shortly after the Jenna Thing, Ali disappears and the girls as well as the townspeople are determined to find her.

Someone called A knows more about Ali and her satellites than they could ever imagine. A texts and e-mails them, telling them where they've been and what they've done. A also blackmails them. The question is, who is A? One of the girls? Someone close to Jenna? A neighbor? An intrusive officer?

This is a deliciously wicked and riveting read that will keep readers bound to the last page.

The overplayed 1983 song "Every Breath You Take" by the Police could be the soundtrack for this series.

*In the last chapter, Spencer smokes a Marlboro. When that smoking scene is revisited in the next installment, the coffin nail in question is a Parliament. Readers will catch these things.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2014
This book is terribly written. I got hooked on the show and once I learned it was a series of books first, I decided to rad it, as books are always better than motion picture adaptations. In this case, that couldn't be further from the truth. This book is garbage. If I could give it zero stars, I would.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2008
Pretty Little Liars HarperCollins Publisher, 2006, 286 pp., $8.99
Sara Shepard ISBN 978-0-06-0887320-2

Ever receive a message from someone, have no idea who sent it, then find out they had the wrong number? Hannah Marin, Spencer Hastings, Aria Montgomery, and Emily Fields wish that was the case, but unfortunately, it's not. For them they are receiving messages from someone named "A," but it's not the wrong number. Know how they can tell? "A" is reminding them of all the secrets they try so hard to hide. Most of these secrets have been ones their former best friends, Ali DiLaurentis, knew. But Ali is dead, right?
Hannah, Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Ali were best friends; they have been since the summer before seventh grade when all of their parents volunteered them to work Saturday afternoons at Rosewood Day School's charity drive (except Spencer who volunteered herself.) The girls quickly bonded and soon became best friends. At the end of seventh grade everything was going great for all of them; they were just about to have their end-of-the-school sleepover. But when Spencer and Ali get into a fight, suddenly things take a turn for the worse. Ali leaves and doesn't return. By the next evening the police are called, and Ali is reported missing. The girls all appear worried, but secretly they are all relived. Ali knew all of their secrets. The things you never want to get out. The life changing secrets. And if Ali is dead, then she can't tell anyone, right? Wrong! Three years later, the girls are getting text messages from "A" -and "A" knows everything, and is taking ever chance to make these girls paranoid and scared. Every creak, every sound, makes these girls jump, wondering if "A's" around; because "A" would have to be to know not only all their seventh grade secrets but their new secrets too.
Who is "A"? Where's Ali? Is she dead or just missing? Is "A" Ali? Is "A" Ali's murderer? Is "A" going to tell everyone their secrets? These are the questions running though each of the girl's minds.
Read the exciting series: Pretty Little Liars, Flawless, Perfect, and Unbelievable (coming out May 27, 2008) to figure out all these questions. After Unbelievable, Shepard plans on writing four novels. Pretty Little Liars is one of the best books I've read; it's breathtaking -- the things these girls will do or how far "A" is willing to go. The book will leave you sitting on the edge of your seat and is unbelievably hard to put down. Pretty Little Liars was inspired by Shepard's upbringing in Philadelphia's main line.

-Lindsay Wowkowych, 13
Rush-Henrietta, NY
Roth Middle School
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