Last night, I was reading Pretty Little Liars. I was sitting in my bedroom that smelled like vanilla because that’s the kind of perfume I wear. Literally everything I own smells like vanilla. In the distance, I can hear a car alarm. I wish that whoever was stealing that car would just steal it faster. Oh my god. I’m trying to read a book. You’re ruining my aesthetic. Anyway. Picture the scene: I’m listening to Blur, wearing pajamas, and my cat is sleeping on the pillows on my bed. There’s a little bit of eyeliner smeared under my eye, and I’m tapping my foot to the beat of “Beetlebum”. I set down the book for a minute to write this semi-ironic mockery of a page from chapter thirteen because I think it might make a good opening for my review.
I don’t know how I feel about this book. Part of my brain says that since I binge watched most of the first season of the show on Netflix, and, if I had the time, I would have read this book in a sitting, I liked it. But the other part of my brain says that since I was embarrassed to be seen reading it in public, I didn’t like it.
Honestly, part of me is still embarrassed to admit that I’ve read this, yet here we are.
Let’s talk about characters first. I couldn’t relate to any of them, but I honestly didn’t expect to relate to any of them, so this isn’t a negative point, exactly. It’s not a positive point, either, but since I went into this expecting to not relate, it doesn’t take anything away from the book.
That said, I still didn’t really like the characters. All of them are pretty much the opposite of anything that I am. Even though I said that I don’t care that I don’t relate to them-and I honestly do not care that I don’t relate to them-it goes beyond that. I don’t even like them as people. Hannah steals from the mall (seemingly frequently); Aria drinks underage and dates a teacher (more on that later); and Spencer kisses her sister’s boyfriend. I didn’t mind Emily, but I didn’t love her, either.
Aria’s relationship with Ezra really bothers me. I know that the age difference between them isn’t huge, and in an older couple it wouldn’t be weird at all, but Ezra is in his twenties and Aria is still in high school. This isn’t even legal. Sure, you can find plenty of “Ezria” hate online, but you can find just as much, if not more, stuff about how this is true love, and a beautiful relationship. I don’t think I ship it. I’ve had problems in the past with relationships in books where one character is in their teens and the other in their twenties. I’m not just going to let this one go because it’s a popular ship. I’ve only read the first book, but from what I’ve seen from the commercials for the show, and from discussions on tumblr, it seems to be one of the main ships in the fandom. I don’t know. I just can’t get behind something like this. When one person in a relationship is so much older than the other, it is too easy for them to take advantage of the younger person. And, if not that, the older person’s personality could take over and the younger person could lose their identity. There are times when it is good to have someone your own age to relate to. When it comes to working out first serious relationships, this is one of those times.
I noticed that there was a lot of product placement in this book. The brand name of every piece of clothing was mentioned down to the specific color because nothing in this book can be left to the imagination. But it went further than brand names. In one part of the book, Hannah is looking for ice cream and there is literally this line: “Her mom didn’t buy Ben and Jerry’s, so Tofutti Cutie 50-percent-less sugar faux ice-cream sandwiches would have to do.” I feel like I just sat through an ad. I feel like the author should have added “#not-sponsored” after that line. Unless it was sponsored and, if it was, what even. There were so many other ways that the author could have phrased that. Maybe, “Her mom didn’t buy good ice cream, so the hippy vegan ice cream would have to do.” Or something along those lines. That line isn’t flawless, but you get what I mean.
There’s only one situation where I would be okay with this. If, as the series went on, and things got darker (because from what I’ve seen from commercials and tumblr things get real later in the series), the brand names would be mentioned less and less, until there weren’t any. Almost like in the beginning of the series the characters were more concerned with brand names and fashion than anything else, and, later in the series, they became less concerned with it. Or maybe they even stopped being concerned with it at all because they had much more important things to think about. It would show character development. I would actually be really happy if it ended up being that way. Fingers crossed, at least they would have some redeeming qualities.
This book reads like it’s being written by a preppy teenage girl. Which was probably the goal, since it’s about a group of preppy teenage girls, but it was kind of weird to read. Some of the ways things are worded makes them sound so vapid and irritating. This isn’t my biggest complaint. I know that the author probably did this purposefully, and even if she didn’t, it makes sense. It just make me want to rip my hair out.
While I was reading the book I thought the author was misusing the phrase “hook-up”. The characters seem to use it to mean sleeping with someone OR just making out with them. There’s a huge difference between those two things. Also, in every other book I’ve read, hook-up has meant only one thing. According to the internets, hook-up can mean just making out with someone, but I’ve literally never heard it in this context before and honestly didn’t even know that it could be used in this context. I guess it’s not wrong. It’s just being used in a way I’m not used to, but I actually had to look it up to figure out how it was being used.
I’m kind of worried about this series. According to wikipedia, it seems like there are sixteen books in the series. I don’t know how the author is going to keep this interesting for sixteen entire books. From what I’ve seen, a lot of different people are or could be “A”, and there’s a lot of drama, but this has to go on for sixteen books. How repetitive is this going to get? I’m really hoping that this isn’t one of those series where each book has roughly the same plot, just different people doing the same things. I’m kind of worried that this is going to end up being one of those series.
On a kind of fangirly side note, I really liked that Spencer liked Radiohead. I know it’s a very small part of the book, and it wasn’t a huge plot point, but it’s Radiohead, so it’s worth mentioning.
I ended up giving this book three stars on Goodreads, because this is my second time reading it, and I intend to finish reading the series. I kind of hate myself for giving it this rating, but it’s honest and fair, so three stars.