An Electrifying Prequel | Review of ‘Ali’s Pretty Little Lies’ (Pretty Little Liars, #0.5)

By Cynthia Ayala

'Ali's Pretty Little Lies' by Sara Shepard HarperTeen
‘Ali’s Pretty Little Lies’ by Sara Shepard

Long before A hunted the four pretty little liars, there was Alison DiLaurentis. Girls wanted to be her, boys wanted her and unknown to them all, someone wanted her dead.

Learn all about Alison and her lies and deep dark secrets that threaten her entire world and her life. Follow Alison’s life leading up to her death. Hear her story and see how everything started and how Alison DiLaurentis’s life ended.

Sara Shepard has gifted readers with a revelation of at least half of the mystery that had created the bestselling young adult series Pretty Little Liars with her prequel Ali’s Pretty Little Lies. Published on January 2, 2013 by HarperTeen, this novel takes readers back to the beginning of the entire series and allows them to see the chain of events that weave the mystery that haunts the Pretty Little Liars.

Electric. This book was significantly better than the other prequel novel Pretty Little Secrets that had little to do with any secrets. This is where everything began and filled in a lot of holes as far as the story went, drawing in fans deeper into the series and giving new fans a place to start without ruining the story. It was fun, fast paced, thrilling and created a full understanding of the story and who Alison is and who Courtney was.
Shepard was able to recreate the energy she had within the first novel that launched the series and it made for a spectacular novel. This is where everything started; this is what led to the series and the mystery behind it. It might not have been what Shepard originally intended when she started the series, but it feels natural instead of forced like many of her newer books have started to feel, as of late.

This story took an intentional step back in order to lead readers up to the pinnacle moment of the novel where ‘Alison’ dies. And the best part, the book does not leave the readers with an unsatisfied reading. Leading readers through the motions of the events the author developed the characters and the set of events. The writing is slow and methodical and brings out some of the more important events that began to push Alison’s friends away. Readers see the dangers of secrets and lies in this novel and they see just how fragile Alison/Courtney was, and how terrified she was of her sister. There is a level of sympathy that is garnered towards the readers. But there was something dangerous about her character, a fear that makes her just as dangerous and deranged as her sister who is a classic sociopath. Courtney is a broken girl and it’s not easy to forget that she stole her sisters’ life in order to remain sane, but at the same time, while her actions are understandable, they are also questionable. It’s obvious that the parents care for Alison more than Courtney and believe her to mentally unstable, but Courtney choose not to talk to anyone and decided to take matters into her own hands, leading to her death. It begs the question if there was anything else that the character could have done? Shepard doesn’t reveal that in this novel, but seeing her actions, watching her act the way she did, it does strip away some of the sympathy for her character. Like anyone else who digs themselves into a hole – a lie – they become lost in it and find that there is no excuse. And the portrayal of that within this novel was incredibly captivating.

Ali’s Pretty Little Lies gives the readers exactly what they want without disappointing them at any point. It was enriching, captivating, gut-wrenching and when Shepard dropped the bomb and revealed everything to the readers, it hit the spot. It was tragic and beautifully written. Needless to say, a great addition to the series.(★★★★☆ | B+)

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