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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Surviving Sara Shepard

  It all started with Pretty Little Liars: The Series. Like Secret Life, I came for the adult actors and stayed for the rest. Who could resist a series that boasted the talents of Chad Lowe, Holly Marie Combs, and Laura Leighton?

  The show centers around four teenage girls and the murder of their best frenemy, Allison. The girls find themselves blackmailed by someone claiming to be Allison. PLL treads dangerous waters focusing on a murder mystery right out the gate. Twin Peaks imploded after wrapping up the Laura Palmer storyline and Desperate Housewives suffered a little after the mystery of Mary Alice was solved.

   The show manages to stay entertaining with a talented cast and unpredictable twists and turns. The show also earns points for giving the adult actors actual storylines and not wasting their talents.

  Since I liked the show, naturally I read the series. The problem I had with the books was how stilted the writing was. For example "Emily waved 'bye to her mother and pulled up the blah jeans that were hanging on her skinny hips." I understand that these books are geared towards teenagers but give them some credit, they aren't stupid.

   This series is nine books long each one more ludicrous than the last. It was a guilty pleasure that went ludicrous speed by book 5#. The main characters swapped partner's so quickly that you would need a scoreboard to keep track of who was with who. The storyline was wrapped up in book #8 where we learned that Allison had a psycho twin who impersonated her and that's who the dead body really was.

    The popularity of the series brought new life to the books. The newest installment has the girls accidentally killing an Alli lookalike and are once again blackmailed yet again. Having not learned their lesson the first billion times around they become "A's" victims once more.

 Luckily, I was not turned off from Sara Shepard's writing. If I had, I wouldn't have discovered the awesomeness of The Lying Game and it's sequel Never Have I Ever. The book centers around foster kid Emma who discovers that she has a long lost twin sister named Sutton. Unfortunately, Sutton's dead and Emma is blackmailed into taking her place as she tries to solve her sister's murder.

   The books are perfect for a light summer read. It's unpredictable, it has great character development and keeps your interest until the very end. The bad aspect of the books is the incessant description and brand name dropping of all the clothes and gadgets the characters use. It starts to feel like you're reading a store catalog at times.


The books recently debuted as a series on ABC Family, the same channel that features Pretty Little Liars. The series ignores Sutton's murder and has the twins trading lives and searching for their long lost mother. I am on the fence about this show.

  It does have the same twists that PLL has but unfortunately not the same caliber of acting. It's coveted adult cast is even lacking with the exception of Heroes star Adrian Pasdar and soap star Tyler Christopher who I adore.

   Sara Shepard, you write teen novels that I can't get enough of. And they evolve into t.v shows I can't miss. I don't know whether I love that of hate that about you.