Sara Shepard kills it with ‘Killer’ | Review of ‘Killer’ (Pretty Little Liars, #6)

By: Cynthia Ayala

Sara Shepard does it again with the sixth novel in her Pretty Little Liars series Killer. Building up the plot and the characters, Shepard weaves a captivating mystery and throws readers through a loop as the plot thickens and hidden secrets unveil themselves. Read on for the full review.


Author: Sara Shepard

Published: June 30, 2009

Publisher: HarperTeen

Series: Pretty Little Liars

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Coming-of-Age, Suspense, Thriller

Hanna, Aria, Spencer, and Emily have been lying ever since they became friends with beautiful Alison DiLaurentis. Ali made them do terrible things—things they had to keep secret for years. And even though Ali was killed at the end of seventh grade, their bad-girl ways didn’t die with her. The girls should be careful, though. They thought they were safe when Ali’s killer was arrested and A’s true identity was finally revealed. But now there’s a new A in town turning up the heat. And this time Rosewood is going to burn.

Killer is the sixth installment of the Pretty Little Liars series and the second novel in the series’ second arc. Published by HarperTeen on June 30, 2009, the novel, written by Sara Shepard, combines unique genres such as mystery, coming-of-age, suspense and thriller to make a captivating young adult novel that is not strictly for the young adult.

This novel continues to weave together incredible suspense as readers follow four young girls who are being stalked by a mysterious person named “A”. In the first story arc, “A” put the girls through the ringer, turning their lives inside. However, that mystery was solved, devastating the lives of one of the girls in particular, Hanna. This novel continues to tell the story of how these girls are surviving their initial torment and how they plan to move forward while they have a new stalker in town.

The real tricky part for any author is to recreate the fear, the suspense by the same set of circumstances. Of course, Sara Shepard nails it easily. While the same set of circumstances are the same, the girls are not, and the world circling each girl are different. This highlights the amazing character growth within the series and this novel. In the beginning, the characters are these scared girls, and no reader could blame them, someone is stalking them and threatening them. Nevertheless, as the novel progresses, while each girl is trying to deal with their own lives and the complications of being a teenager, they grow stronger and more determined to try to figure out what to make of their new stalker. Of course, the character that seems to hold herself together stronger is Hanna, who goes to great strengths to keep herself safe while also being there for her old friends and becoming more perceptive of the world around her.

Each character has their own strengths that assist the other characters, keeping the novel flowing despite the shift in perspective that can often deter a reader, forcing the plot line to become slow and monotonous. Killer does not do that. Sara Shepard is a concise writer who is able to shift between character perspectives, building the character dynamics, each individual inside plot, weaving them together to coincide with the outer plot of the story.

Pretty Little Liars is a character driven series, and this novel highlights why that works, by keeping the plot interesting even if it may seem like a repetition of the first story arc. Sara Shepard is truly a gifted writer as she is able to still captivate readers and build the suspense without sacrificing character development. ★★★★☆ (A).

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