Series: Pretty Little Liars #2
Author: Sara Shepard
In the exclusive town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania, where the sweetest smiles hide the darkest secrets, four pretty little liars - Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna - have been very bad girls...
Spencer stole her sister's boyfriend. Aria is brokenhearted over her English teacher. Emily likes her new friend Maya... as much more than a friend. And Hanna's obsession with looking flawless is literally making her sick. But the most horrible secret of all is something as scandalous it could destroy their perfect little lives.
And someone named "A" is threatening to do just that.
At first they thought A was Alison, their friend who vanished three years ago... but then Alison turned up dead. So could A be Melissa, Spencer's ultracompetitive sister? Or Maya, who wants Emily all to herself? What about Toby, the mysterious guy who left town right after Alison went missing?
One thing's for certain: A's got the dirt to bury them all alive, and with every crumpled note, wicked IM, and vindictive text message A send, the girls get a little closer to losing it all.
It's not a secret that I absolutely loved Pretty Little Liars (you can read my review for it here), so much so that I picked up the second in the series the following day at my local library.
With the discovery of Alison's body buried under the Gazebo in what use to be her backyard at the end of the previous book, the girl's are shaken with the realization that it couldn't have possibly been her sending them the cryptic messages. The four girls are desperate to figure out who "A" really is but are reluctant to work together because it would force them to reveal the truth about themselves to each other.
Meanwhile, the book finally flashback to the "The Jenna Accident" that the girls and "A" had been alluding to. In sixth grade, Alison had attempted to prank their neighbor Toby by launching a firework at treehouse to scare. It had gone horribly wrong and Jenna, who had been in the treehouse with him at the time, ended up blinded by it. Things are further complicated when Toby returns to town and begins to interact with the girls.
One of my favorite aspects of this book is the continued use of flashbacks to sixth and seventh grade to expand on the four girl's friendships with Alison prior to her death. Alison remains a main character, despite her death, as they girl's re-examine their feelings about her.
The rotating view point between the Aria, Hanna, Emily and Spencer continues to work in favor of the book. The voices are still unique enough that it's easy to tell them apart. Another favorite part of this book, for me, was how the girl's viewed situations depending on the information they had. The way events or people were depicted depended, in a lot of ways, on whose point of view we were reading from. In the case of certain people, like Toby, the reactions had huge variations.
Some of the more outrageous behavior that was unbelievable in the previous book does not appear in this one and the girl's act a bit more like the high school girls that they are. Even the party they end up attending at the end of the book, that was being talked up as a huge high society events, turned out to be a standard party for teens acting like teens.
Which was a nice change of pace.
However, I'd be lying if I said this book was on par with first in the series. The mystery surrounding why Toby took the blame for the Jenna accident or what Alison had really seen that night where fairly obvious by some choice lines. Along with the resolution of the Toby storyline was lacking and equally transparent.
That said, I still had difficulty putting the book down. Especially considering the plot lines of the current secrets, most of which come to a head in a well written manner.
I will once again admit I have a bias towards the relationship between Emily and Maya, despite Maya only making two or three small appearances in the book. Despite the over-the-top feel to most of the situations in this book Emily's reluctance to accept her lesbianism, confusion over her feelings and fear of what people would think or say comes off as one of the more true to life depictions in the book.
I ended up going with a four stars for this book, although I still think it's worth reading and already have the third in the series in my possession.