Flawless: Pretty Little Liars 2 by Sara Shepard
|Flawless: Pretty Little Liars 2 by Sara Shepard
|Category: Women's Fiction
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris
|Summary: Several years after something happened to change all their lives, four girls who swore they'd never tell have to come to terms with the fact that someone knows what happened, and that someone is about to talk.
|Date: November 2007
Flawless is book two in a going-to-be-at-least-a-trilogy of books in the Pretty Little Liars series. Four girls from privileged backgrounds are united at the funeral of Ali, a former friend who disappeared a few years ago and has now shown up dead. The girls are all off living their individual lives and playing with fire in different ways - one is stealing her sister's boyfriend, another is in love with a teacher, one's possibly gay and another's definitely bulimic - but they're brought back together when they start receiving anonymous messages from someone who is threatening to expose their deepest secrets, and rock their settled community like never before. Whoever this mysterious 'A' is who's sending the notes, it's someone who is close to all four girls, knows everything about them as it happens, and is getting ready to spill the beans.
All the press blurb seems to be comparing this book to the O.C., but I think it resembles much more a junior Desperate Housewives, where Fairview has become Rosewood, and Gabby, Susan, Lynette and Bree have become Spencer, Aria, Emily and Hanna. They may be high school students, but they too have dirty laundry, and scandalous behaviour that would put their older counterparts to shame - these are the sort of girls who stop at nothing to get what they want, even if it means having to bluff their way into true-love-waits style Virginity Club meetings in order to deflower their unsuspecting boyfriends.
I knew from a few pages in that I was going to love this book because it's exactly the sort of thing I like - down to earth writing that flows with no interruptions, juicy plot lines, enough but not too many twists and turns, and some outrageous characters with shocking behaviour. The author captures beautifully the spirit and atmosphere of high school life that she must have left behind a good few years ago, and the latest technology and pop culture references mean it doesn't read like anything other than present day life in the most interesting of societies - exclusive small town Pennsylvania.
Being book two in a series it took me a while to figure out who was who, ground work that I'm sure was done in book one. The girls have fancy names and complicated lives that took me a moment or two to get straight, especially since they're all similarly bad girls, so you can't easily characterize one as the sweet one or one as the aggressive one or one as the good one. However reading it as a stand alone book without the useful introduction from the initial title in the series didn't prove too much of a hindrance, and the story is pretty self contained.
That said, there is a theme running through these books, and it's not fully resolved by the end of Flawless. That's another thing it feels like the series has in common with Desperate Housewives, where every season brings a new family on Wisteria Lane, a new mystery to solve. What's bad for me but great for the author is that I can't wait to read the next title in the set, because I'm just dying to find out what happens next. All the clues in this one point towards one clear culprit, so when they are proved without doubt to be innocent, you're straight back to square one, wondering whodunit. By my reckoning, there could only really be one person now who is 'A', but that's what I thought at the start of this book, and clearly was wrong, so who knows?
Unlike a lot of books that seem to be aimed at readers a few years younger than the heroines, I think this is just as much a grown up book as a teen one, and I was a few pages in before I even realised Spencer and the group were still at high school - they can all drive, this being America, and their extracurricular activities certainly beat the ballet and babysitting I was into at their age. With that in mind I would recommend this to anyone who likes a good mystery, some suspense, some glamour, and some fabulous characters, regardless of age.
The first thing this book made me think of, and therefore my first related recommendation has to be Good Girls, but I thought Flawless was also reminiscent of Be Mine which also has the advantage of solving that particular "Who's writing the weird notes?" question by the last page.
Major thanks to the publishers, Sphere, for supplying this book.
You can read more book reviews or buy Flawless: Pretty Little Liars 2 by Sara Shepard at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Flawless: Pretty Little Liars 2 by Sara Shepard at Amazon.com.
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