____________________________________ On Hiatus ___________________________________

Friday, October 1, 2010

Double Trouble

Well, it’s a teensy bit early for IMM, but let me just say I’MM IN LOVE with my digital library!!!!

To recap, I got a long-awaited email last weekend letting me know that my request for Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars (the first book in the series) had come in.  So, I scooped it up and devoured it!!!!  If you love the tv series, you’ll love the books!!!!!!

As soon as I finished Pretty Little Liars, I knew I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Flawless.  Book 2 picks up right where the first one left off.  For those of you who’ve watched the tv series, you’ll find the first two books incorporated into the first season—I thought the first book was integrated really well, but couldn’t imagine how the show would be able to keep up if it kept a one book to one season pacing.  However, the more I read and get into the series, the more I notice that the tv series has included.

To re-recap, Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series is about a group of girls who used to be friends, until Alison DiLaurentis went missing.  The Hanna, Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Ali already had a strained relationship, but when Alison disappeared, so did all the things that kept them together.  Years later, out of the blue, the girls begin receiving messages from someone calling themselves A.  Somehow A seems to know all their secrets, things that they didn’t even share with each other—Secrets that only Ali knew.  And they start to wonder if Ali could be back.

This whole series, reads to me like a mystery—a juicy, gossipy, mystery—Kind of like Peyton Place meets Agatha Christie.  And here’s the thing about me and mysteries—I LOVE to read them, but I’m absolutely the worst at solving them.  I do a little better when I’m watching a crime show on tv, because it’s almost always the guest star, or the most familiar person who isn’t a regular cast member.  But in books I don’t trust ANYONE.  (*SPOILER ALERT*)  The first book, and the first season make it look pretty clear that Alison isn’t back, and that she’s not coming back either.  But I don’t count anybody out until I see a dead body.  And even then I want DNA.  And proof that there weren’t twins switched at birth or alien embryos.

And Sara Shepard is SUPER crafty!!!!  In Flawless, Aria has an assignment to talk about untrustworthy narrators…So far, I haven’t heard anymore about how the assignment went, but that sent up a huge red flag for me.  Because of all people, you’re supposed to be able to trust your narrator; right?!?  Except when you can’t.  The series is told in the third person, from four different points of view—Hanna, Aria, Emily, and Spencer.  They’re all teenage girls who admittedly have things to hide, and what about that makes them trustworthy?  It seems natural to discount them as suspects, because otherwise, why would they be so nervous?  What would they have to gain?

They might not have anything to gain, but if they are the suspect, then they certainly have everything to lose.  Plus, I’ve read enough R.L. Stine not to discount a psychotic breakdown.

And then there’s A’s messages.  S/he knows things.  But when they know that A is the certainly the least trustworthy person of all, the girls rarely hesitate in taking A at her word.  I’m totally guessing here, because I haven’t read the entire series, yet, but I think I may know where A is getting all of her information.

Also, right before Ali went missing, she attempted to hypnotize the other girls.  Now, while the chances of a middle-schooler being able to successfully hypnotize a group of her friends is a little on the side of the absurd, it certainly shakes things up a bit.  And if it did work, then the girls themselves may not even know the truth about what happened to Ali.   All of the girls keep thinking they catch glimpses of Ali where she used to be, or hear her voice, or her laugh.  And all of them are having occasional nightmares.

Now the nightmares, the voices, and the sightings, could be residual memories or hidden messages planted from hypnosis; they could be A messing with them, or they could just be overwhelmed from all the stress of everything coming together.

It’s hard to find a reason why A suddenly chooses now to enter the girls’ lives; it’s been so many years since Ali disappeared, why now???  But I think Maya is the key—or at least the precipitator.  At some point after Ali disappeared, her family moved away.  But they didn’t take everything with them.  Then Maya’s family moves from California to Rosewood, and not just into Ali’s house, but Ali’s bedroom, and has to clear out Ali’s stuff.  Emily’s mom sends her over with a basket to welcome the new family, which is where she sees Maya, and also notices a bunch of old junk sitting on the curb—Ali’s junk.  And amidst Ali’s stuff, it looks like there are a bunch of notebooks.  Ali was a hoarder of secrets, and I have a feeling that those old notebooks on the curb contained a lot of information for anyone who stumbled upon them.

And for anyone who’s keeping track, I don’t totally trust Maya, either—We have nothing but her word that she moved from California to Rosewood.  Who’s to say she didn’t peek at the notebooks before tossing them?  And I’ve read enough Mary Higgins Clark to know that anyone can be someone’s long-lost relative/lover bent on revenge.  So no, Maya’s not in the clear, either.

As to the main story, the girls are back, but still not friends.  It seems as if the girls trusted Ali with all of their deepest, darkest, innermost secrets, and then never trusted anyone else ever again—not even each other.  All of A’s messages had made them suspicious of each other, because who else could know their secrets; who else would Ali have told?—Of course, I’ve already given you one of my guesses as to how A knows so much, but the girls don’t have a clue.  Even when they realize that they’re all getting messages from A, they’re still afraid of sharing their secrets with each other.  And because they’re all still afraid of sharing and being judged, they pull apart even more.  Each girl is struggling and facing choices, not always making the right ones, and they could all use someone to confide in, but each feel so alone.  Hanna shoplifts and has an eating disorder; Aria is in love with her teacher; Spencer is in love with her sister’s boyfriend and constantly competing with her sister for their parents’ affections; Emily is afraid she might be gay.

When I was watching the tv series, I LOVED it, but I kept wondering, why don’t they tell their parents?  Why don’t they go to the police?  Why don’t they talk to their teachers?  But reading the books has made me realize how truly isolated these girls are.  Again, you do have to go back to the trustworthy narrator bit, how much does a teenage girl exaggerate about her parents?  But if the parents of these girls are ANY version of reality, it’s not difficult to see why their daughters are keeping secrets.  Spencer’s family literally shuns her when her sister’s boyfriend makes a move on her; Hanna’s mom is sleeping with a cop to keep her out of trouble, while her dad is ignoring her for his new family; Aria had a fling with her teacher and is trying to keep her mom from finding out about her dad’s affair; and Emily’s worried that her parents will disown her.

These girls feel like their worlds are falling apart; they’re all just hanging on by a few designer threads.  And A is holding the scissors.

This series is a wild ride, and as of book 2, the only person I’m counting out is Toby.


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