Snooze fest | Review of ‘Pretty Little Secrets’ (PLL, #4.5)

By: Cynthia Ayala

This interim novel failed to deliver what it’s title suggest and despite the solid construction of plot and characterization, Shepard lost her spunk, thrills and suspense in this novel making the end result a yawn.

080614_1749_SnoozefestR1.pngAuthor: Sara Shepard

Published: January 3, 2012

Publisher: HarperTeen

Series: Pretty Little Liars

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

Rewind! Before Alison, after Mona, these four Pretty Little Liars had a flare of secrets during their winter vacation. But someone with blond hair is watching them, taking in every action, every secret, every lie they make. Who is it? Just a pretty young blond with vengeance on her mind. Taking place between ‘Unbelievable’ and ‘Wicked’, this novel stalks the girls on their misadventures and reveals some of their darker secrets.

One word: boring. HarperTeen brought readers an “in-between” novel by Sara Shepard titled Pretty Little Secrets. The novel, published January 3, 2012 is a young adult novel that remains centered in the coming of age genre while it incorporates minor additions of mystery and thriller genres.

Okay, so boring is the wrong word, this novel as pointless. The point of the novel from the title and synopsis is so supposed to reveal dirty little secrets from the characters that would be further explored and used to taunt these characters. Except nothing these girls did was particularly daring. Nothing dangerous happened in this novel. The construction of the novel was done well, separating the novel into four parts to center around each girl and their winter vacations. But there were no secrets in the novel. Compared to Shepard’s novels in the series, this novel lacked mystery and thrill. Of course it’s creepy that the girls are being watched, but they don’t know it, they don’t even suspect it, so by the end of each chapter, there is no thrill.

This was just a boring novel. When the reader sees the title, they will expect secrets to be divulged, secrets to be revealed, some dirty secret that could possibly be each characters undoing. But that’s not the case. Hanna goes to fat camp, Emily goes undercover as a Mall Santa, Spender competes with her sister over a married guy and Aria runs off and marries an old flame on the run from the law. Aria’s story is the only daring one in the novel, it’s the only one that is gutsy, the only one that has the potential to bring Aria’s life to shambles. The other three? Yawn.

Shepard’s characterization is strong, but the entire novel scream that she had no idea what to do. It comes off as an assignment, as though HarperTeen said “hey, we want you to write this book, we want you to play around with the characters and reveal some dirt”. The reader, between yawns, can actually feel the struggle in the writing, can visualize Shepard sitting at her desk, biting her pen, trying to figure out what to write next.

Her fluidity is strong, her stories are strong, they are just lackluster, boring. They don’t do what the title and the synopsis says they are going to do. This is just another teen novel and there is nothing interesting about it. ★☆☆☆☆ (D)

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