Well, as of 1/1/11, I finally finished Wanted, book 8, the final book in Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series. Check one Off-The-Shelf!
As much as I was spending every waking moment wondering how it was going to end…And as absolutely satisfying as the ending was…It was definitely one of those series where I will miss the characters that I was just getting to know, miss all the rush, the excitement, and (of course) the secrets.
Every time I picked up a new book in the series, I was surprised, because it’s definitely one of the most unique stories that I’ve ever read—Not just a YA about angsty teenagers, their crushes, and their parents who don’t understand (not that those types don’t have their very own special place in my heart). And sadly, there weren’t any vampires or werewolves (although there were plenty of your everyday high-school-brand witches). But it was an honest-to-goodness, who-dunnit mystery.
Pretty Little Liars is a little bit of a throwback to another generation’s classics; I would put it up there right next to every Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark that I’ve ever read (a lot and all, respectively). And Shepard’s Rosewood could easily be a modern Peyton Place, each with their hotbeds of secrets and scandals living just beneath the sparkling small-town veneer of perfection.
Pretty Little Liars was such a refreshing read compared to a lot of the books I grew up with, where everything was just as perfect as it looked—If a girl snuck out to go to a party and found drinking or drugs there, she didn’t partake, she learned a lesson. If you were afraid your parents wouldn’t understand, they would, and you’d be so relieved when you told them the truth. Some parents don’t understand, and some teenagers drink and do drugs. Shepard isn’t condoning any of it, but she also doesn’t pretend it doesn’t happen, either. There’s no preaching; Shepard is telling a totally different kind of story and the morality and the lessons are all up to the reader.
This wasn’t a catastrophic case of cheating on the SATs, or even cheating on someone’s bf…not that there wasn’t a little of that going on, too. There was an ACTUAL. DEAD. BODY. (actually a few). There was a dangerous creepy stalker (a couple), blackmail (a lot), and tons of twists and turns. And from the beginning, I knew I wouldn’t know the truth until the last page of the last book.
Which isn’t to say I didn’t have my guesses and my suspects. Which is to say, I suspected everyone. I speculated on everything from long-lost twins to the blind girl not really being blind. So at the end, yes, I did totally see that coming…but with a hundred different theories percolating in my head, one was bound to be right. I LOVE mysteries, and I also suck at them. Everything was a clue to me, everyone was a suspect. And Sara Shepard is definitely a master at leaving clues and implicating the innocent, at telling you just enough to keep you on your toes.
And the most amazing part was the way that Shepard could simultaneously have me on the edge of my seat, give me enough closure to hang on until I opened the next book, which picked up seamlessly from its predecessor. It was so juicy and satisfying…While I don’t mind a little fast food fiction, I have to say this series is a three course meal, plus dessert!