The last time I read a Pretty Little Liars novel, I was a Pretty Little Liars – the show – virgin. Now, however, the same cannot be said. While I do believe it is possible to read and watch at the same time, one almost has to observe them as two separate – albeit similar – entities. There are so many differences between the books and the show that time needs to be allotted so one can re-acclimate themselves to whichever they are consuming at any given time. Even the four main characters' personalities are slightly contrasting between the books and the show. While I appreciate and enjoy both, the books are certainly darker, whereas the girls' characterizations on the show are, in comparison, whitewashed. With this said, though, let's tackle the fourth novel in the series: Unbelievable.
At first, I felt that Unbelievable started off flat. With the girls separated geographically from Emily, consciously from Hannah, and emotionally from Spencer, there was a disconnection between the storylines and, more importantly, their characters. At the heart of this series, I think the most important aspect of all the various secrets is the girls' friendship... both pre and post Ali's death. Luckily, Shepard didn't keep her four heroines separated for long, reuniting them quickly. Although it could be argued that these distances were bridged rather easily, given the other obstacles the girls face and how unappealing the separations were, this rapid plot movement didn't hinder the book. However, even after the four girls came back together again, their relationships with each other and others were already altered.
In comparison to the conclusion of book four, the beginning – no matter how memorable because of its flaws – was extremely overshadowed. Shockingly, Shepard revealed both Ali's murderer and, perhaps more importantly, A. Or did she...? If nothing else has become apparent after four Pretty Little Liars novels, things aren't always what they seem in Rosewood for Aria, Spencer, Hannah, and Emily. Clues are tossed to them only to be ripped away and proven false; they're made to feel comfortable only to be thrust out into an emotional tundra over and over again. Red herrings run rampant through the series, so it wouldn't be a surprise to find out in the fifth book that what the girls thought to be finished at the end of the fourth was really just an illusion, a grand trick to further torment them. If nothing else, all four of them still have secrets, and, obviously, they have yet to learn the lesson that, in Rosewood, secrets just aren't allowed... at least not for them.
Four out of Five Stars
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