Pretty Little Liars, Book 1
By Kate Pavao,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
First book in cliquey girls' series shows off bad behavior.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
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
These girls do all sorts of bad things: shoplift, drink and drive, steal boyfriends, starve (or throw up intentionally), etc.
Violence & Scariness
The plot centers around a missing girl -- and there are references to, but few details about, the "Jenna thing," a prank gone wrong.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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You'll find all the big bad words -- but not a lot of them.
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Products & Purchases
Tiffany & Co., Kate Spade, BMW, Marlboro, Corona, Cheetos, etc.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink and smoke.
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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.
Where to Read
Based on 38 parent reviews
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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?
- Author: Sara Shepard
- Genre: Coming of Age
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
- Publication date: October 1, 2006
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 14
- Number of pages: 304
- Last updated: October 25, 2018
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Where to Read
Our Editors Recommend
Books with Strong Female Characters
Girl Heroes and Detectives
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate