Hanna as social pariah
Amount of crazy!
Ali’s supposed power over her friends
Emily and her gullibility
In every book there’s this recurring statement–“But she also forced them to do things they didn’t want to.” I have yet to know what those things (yes plural, things) are. Aside from “The Jenna Thing” there really aren’t a lot of instances of Ali forcing anyone to do anything. They made fun of kids with Ali, but she didn’t make them do that. She wanted to hypnotize them at their end of the year party, and while most of them were skeptical, they did it anyway. Again, she didn’t make them. She asked, maybe a bit pleadingly, but they all agreed to go along with it.
In order to seal the deal on Ali’s awfulness, Sara Shepard needs to give readers more to work with, from the start. Being the keeper of all the girls’ secrets even when she shared no secrets of her own–which in girl world, I don’t believe would ever actually happen–and their appointed ringleader doesn’t make her seem like the worst friend, or person, in the world. And compared to the new clique at Rosewood Day, Ali was harmless.
After returning to Rosewood Day after her time spent in “Singapore”, Hanna and boyfriend, Mike Montgomery, are suddenly excluded from their usual circle of friends. Poor little liar, Hanna–that’s how I’d like to feel, like it’s not sad or distressing at all. In reality, I actually feel bad for her. Not because she’s not Queen of Rosewood Day anymore, that’s minor, but being teased and taunted for seeking help is just wrong. Even though she didn’t choose it of her own accord, after everything she’s been through a little therapy couldn’t hurt. And the crazy doesn’t stop there.
Emily’s blind faith that Courtney is Ali reincarnated is a crazy all its own. And the fact that she believes everything Courtney-Ali tells her, not that the others don’t as well, was just annoying. Her desire, or need, for Ali to return to their lives is more than a little pitiful. After everything that’s happened in the past 4 years, you’d think none of them would jump at believing anyone connected to Ali’s disappearance. Yet, they all settle for Billy Ford as killer pretty quick.
Chapter 28, after some excellent build up, we get to this insane turning point. Lucky for me, it proved my assumptions correct. After the Valentine’s dance, the girls end up reliving the night Ali disappeared, being hypnotized isn’t as much to their displeasure this time as they think it would help them get past the trauma they’ve endured. After Spencer’s memory during the hypnosis, it’s clear that what’s expected is never what happens in Rosewood.
There’s a lot done well in Pretty Little Liars, but the biggest flaw is her reuse of exact descriptions or wording–for example explaining why Ali called Emily Killer or how less prominent characters were tied to the 4 girls. Along that same line, the use of the word “pregnant” to describe every long, heavy pause or moment. Sure it’s accurate but it feels forced and like she’s trying a little too hard to impress her audience.
Shepard’s pacing is amazing. Throughout all 8 of the novels, there’s rarely a dull moment. Yes, books 6 and 7 weren’t as jam-packed with insane twists and surprises, but they were still just as readable. Unlike most teen, young adult fiction, I’ve come across Sara Shepard really knows how to wrap up a story! Since Wanted was originally the final book of the series, all loose ends are dealt with nice and thoroughly. Each girl has a chapter dedicated to their life after Ali-Courtney events and their friendship is intact, better than ever. In the final chapter, Shepard still leaves a bit of mystery to keep an opening for more books should she want to continue (which she clearly did).