Pretty Little Liars #1

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Pretty Little Liars #1 Book Poster Image
First book in cliquey girls' series shows off bad behavior.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 42 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 170 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational value

Well, it is reading. And perhaps if they like this series, teen readers will check out better girl-centered series, such as Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Positive messages

This is fluffy guilty-pleasure fare, with few surprises among either the character types or the plotting. Gossip Girl fans probably will enjoy this one -- but parents who read along will find plenty to cringe over. If there is a positive message here it is obscured by the sensationalist and materialistic plot.

Positive role models & representations

These girls do all sorts of bad things: shoplift, drink and drive, steal boyfriends, starve (or throw up intentionally), etc.

Violence

The plot centers around a missing girl -- and there are references to, but few details about, the "Jenna thing," a prank gone wrong.

Sex

Girl-on-girl kissing, plus Aria nearly has sex with her teacher, Spencer hooks up with her sister's boyfriend, and Hanna tries to seduce her boyfriend in the woods.

Language

You'll find all the big bad words -- but not a lot of them.

Consumerism

Tiffany & Co., Kate Spade, BMW, Marlboro, Corona, Cheetos, etc.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Characters drink and smoke.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book features all kinds of bad behavior. One character hooks up with a teacher, another with her sister's boyfriend. There's bulimia, drunk driving, shoplifting, pranking, swearing, smoking -- and the big secret: what happened to their best friend. This is the start of a series and also inspired a popular TV show.

User Reviews

Adult Written byCSM Screen Name... October 1, 2010

Inappropriate for Anyone Under Age 18

I am a director of education and read contemporary juvenile and young adult literature so that I am aware of what many students are reading. I was SHOCKED by...
Parent Written byCommonSenseParent November 25, 2010

Excellent, well-written read for 6th grade and up

Pretty Little Liars is a well-written guilty pleasure novel that is an enjoyable and entertaining read for 6th grade and up. Kids will enjoy the fun details of...
Teen, 13 years old Written byLetchen April 13, 2010
Obviously, you're not going to use the characters in this book as role models. There's a little bit of everything--eating disorders, sexuality, cursi...
Teen, 13 years old Written bypb598147 August 26, 2015

Pretty Little Liars

I think for 13-14 teen year olds t is fine due to the fact that the material is stuff we are all aware of.

What's the story?

This is basically Desperate Housewives for the teen set. The book centers on former friends, each with her own set of issues -- one crushes on a girl, another struggles with her weight/self-esteem, etc. What they share now is a mystery in their past: One night, during the summer before eighth grade, their leader, Allison, disappeared without a trace. They've drifted apart but come back together when they start receiving strange messages from someone named "A" who seems to know all their secrets, past and present.

Is it any good?

This is pure guilty pleasure that's hugely popular with teens: The average rating among nearly 100 of Common Sense Media's young readers is 5 out of 5 stars.

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS is the launch of yet another series about pretty, privileged girls who do all sorts of naughty things. This book has a mystery at its heart -- a former friend disappeared one night before the start of eighth grade. Ali's disappearance gives readers something to guess about in between the protagonists' student-teacher sex scandals and bouts of bulimia.  

Inspired parents can use this story to get kids thinking about why books about rich, popular female frenemies have struck such a chord with readers. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of this book -- and the crop of clique series that have appeared on bookstore shelves in recent years. Are these books simply an escape, or do they promote dangerous values?

  • Do books like this one affect the way girls treat one another -- or themselves? 

Book details

For kids who love girly teen reads

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