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Pretty Little Liars is a series of young-adult novels by American author Sara Shepard, beginning with 2006's inaugural entry of the same name.
The series follows the lives of four girls – Spencer Hastings, Hanna Marin, Aria Montgomery, and Emily Fields – whose clique falls apart after the disappearance of their leader, Alison DiLaurentis. Three years later, when the girls are juniors in high school, Alison's body is found, and they begin receiving various messages from someone using the alias "A" who threatens to expose their secrets and get revenge.
The novels explore several serious issues such as bullying, murder, pregnancy, family issues, drug addiction, underage drinking, eating disorders, homosexuality, peer-pressure, infidelity, and mental illness. Moral ambiguity and the consequences of lying are featured prominently in the series; the girls constantly create their own problems through their unwillingness, to tell the truth about certain events and misdeeds they have done. The novels have frequently appeared on the The New York Times Best Seller list.
The 13th book in the series, Crushed, was released on June 4th, 2013. The 14th book, Deadly, was released on December 3, 2013. Sara Shepard recently revealed that she plans on having two more books (Toxic and Vicious), with Vicious being the last. But in a more recent interview, she stated that she may do 2 or 3 more books after Deadly (the 14th book). Toxic, the 15th book, was released on June 3rd, 2014. And Vicious, the 16th book, was released on December 4th, 2014.
The series is loosely divided into four arcs of four books each, chronicling the introduction and reveal of each "A". The series follows the lives of four teenage girls;— Aria Montgomery, Emily Fields, Hanna Marin, and Spencer Hastings— whose clique falls apart after the disappearance of their leader, Alison DiLaurentis. Three years later, they begin receiving text messages from an anonymous source, "A," who threatens to expose their secrets— including long-hidden ones they thought only their close friend Alison knew. But shortly after, Alison's body was discovered. The first arc covers Mona Vanderwaal's reign as "A" and the second arc focuses on solving the mystery of Alison DiLaurentis' murder, as well as Alison DiLaurentis' run as "A". The third and current arcs feature an "A" whose identity is currently Nick Maxwell who is helper A and all the girls knew him as someone else. There are two companion novels: the first, Pretty Little Secrets, is set between the first and second arcs. The second companion novel, Ali's Pretty Little Lies, is a prequel to the series. The four girls are nicknamed the Pretty Little Liars or simply the Liars.
Book Character Order
- Ali's Pretty Little Lies
- Pretty Little Liars
- Pretty Little Secrets
Although the series features an extensive cast of characters of varying significance, the novels focus predominantly on six main characters:
An extremely competitive girl who strives for perfection in everything she does. A high-strung over-achiever, Spencer is willing to do whatever it takes to win, often to the detriment of herself and others. She is often quick to jump to conclusions and suffers from IED. Spencer was half-sister with Alison and Courtney DiLaurentis, her father had an affair around the time of Spencer's conception; her parents' divorce, when the affair comes to light. When she attends a summer program at Penn to improve her GPA, she becomes addicted to Easy A, leading her to frame a friend for possession in order to get admitted to Princeton. In Ruthless, she experiences hallucinations and paranoiac while suffering from withdrawal and guilt over her actions.
A pretty, popular girl who struggles with both bulimia and anorexia due to insecurities about her appearance. Flighty and occasionally air-headed, Hanna often acts purely on impulse. In Alison's absence, she became best friends with Mona, not knowing that Mona was "A". Hanna's parents divorced when she was younger after her father had an affair. Hanna dislikes her father's new wife, Isabel, and her daughter, Kate, with whom she forms a rivalry. For a short time, Hanna is sent to a mental institution, her father believing her eating disorders would resurface due to stress.
An artistic, independent girl whose family moved back to Rosewood after her father took a three-year sabbatical in Iceland. Prior to Alison's disappearance, Aria became aware that her father was having an affair with a student of his (Meredith); having promised to keep it a secret, she is kicked out of the house after the first "A" reveals the affair to her mother. Her parents' divorce and Aria's father marries Meredith, and she becomes pregnant. Aria often feels out of place in Rosewood and tends to be attracted to older, more worldly men, which frequently causes conflicts for her.
Emily is a dedicated swimmer and a shy girl with a sweet personality. She is bisexual, a fact which she takes great pains to hide until she is outed by the first "A". Although at first, her parents make attempts to "de-gay" her, they eventually come to accept her. Best friends with Alison, Emily was also in love with her, which caused her great anguish and continuously affects her judgment in the present. It was revealed in Twisted that she had hidden an accidental pregnancy from her family, later giving her child up for adoption. Despite this, she received a swimming scholarship to attend UNC.
Alison DiLaurentis was the most popular girl at Rosewood Day middle school. Unfortunately, she never got to have the full middle school experience as her twin sister Courtney fooled their parents into taking Ali to the mental institute instead of her. In revenge, she killed Courtney two years later and attempted to get revenge on her sister's friends as well. She was the second "A", and serves as the central antagonist of the series.
When she first arrives in Rosewood Day in third grade, Alison holds commanding reign over the school, with every girl wanting to be her and every guy wanting to date her. During a Thursday afternoon in sixth grade, Ali spots a flyer for the Time Capsule Tradition and boasts that she will have a piece flag given to her by her brother Jason. That weekend, Courtney was home from The Radley, her old mental institute that was being turned into a hotel, in order to switch to a new clinic, The Preserve at Addison-Stevens. Sometime that Friday, Ali's signature "A for Ali" ring was stolen by her twin. On Saturday morning - the day Courtney was to be taken to the Preserve, Hanna, Aria, Spencer, and Emily each arrive at the DiLaurentis home to steal Ali's flag piece. However, Courtney spots them shortly after arguing with Ali and immediately comes out and pretends to be her sister.
Courtney DiLaurentis was psychologically troubled and wanted to be Alison, but it is revealed in Ali's Pretty Little Lies that it was actually the other way around. Courtney was more popular than Ali, and Ali forced Courtney to be Ali. Fed up by this, Courtney attacked Alison because she was sick of her tormenting her. Their parents found Courtney's hands around Ali's neck, and tests were performed but nobody believed Courtney. The family moved to Rosewood and Courtney was placed at The Radley, a mental institute. She occasionally came home on the weekends, but she was forced to stay in the house, as the DiLaurentis family pretended they only had two children (Jason and Alison). She stayed there for about three years until the Radley was closed down. Her parents planned to send her to The Preserve at Addison-Stevens in Delaware, but Courtney was upset because she was expecting her parents to let her stay with them.
One weekend, when Courtney was switching from the Radley to the Preserve, she got into a fight with Ali and took her ring. Hanna, Aria, Emily, and Spencer wanted to steal the piece of the flag Ali bragged about for the Time Capsule competition. Courtney saw them sneaking around the yard and talked to them for a while. Their mom Jessica thought it was Ali because Courtney doesn't have a high school and doesn't have any high school friends to talk to. And her plan worked. Her mom, seeing that the real Ali didn't have her ring (therefore thinking Ali was Courtney) brought Ali to the institute. Courtney's reckless plan succeeded. She was now Alison DiLaurentis.
Now Courtney was best friends with Emily, Aria, Spencer, and Hanna, and in one way or another, she learned all of their deepest secrets. She often used the girls' secrets against them in order to keep them in line, along with "The Jenna Thing", making them promise to never tell anyone what really happened. Courtney mysteriously disappears one night at a sleepover, at the end of seventh grade. Three years later her body was finally discovered buried under the gazebo on her family's former property, launching a murder investigation. It is finally revealed in Wanted that the person the girls had all been friends with back in seventh grade was in actuality Ali's secret twin sister, Courtney, and that the real Alison had murdered Courtney for stealing her identity.
A is the main antagonist of the series. A is an anonymous extortionist who is privy to the Liars' deepest and darkest
secrets and uses these secrets to exact revenge on the Liars for (often) perceived wrongdoings. There are four different "A" characters throughout the series. The first "A", Mona Vanderwaal, was able to discover the Liars' secrets by reading Alison's old journal. During a physical confrontation with Spencer Hastings, Mona was pushed over the edge of a quarry and died. The second "A" is the true Alison DiLaurentis, who had her identity stolen by her twin sister Courtney who is also the one that really died. The third "A" is Nick Maxwell, Courtney's ex-boyfriend.
|Cover||Title||Original Release||Biological / Chronological Order|
|Ali's Pretty Little Lies||January 2, 2013||14||0.5|
It's the end of seventh grade, and Alison DiLaurentis and her friends are known as the girls of Rosewood Day. Ali runs her clique with an iron fist, and she's got enough dirt on Hanna, Emily, Aria an Spencer to keep them in line. But Ali's hiding a dark secret of her own, something so huge it would destroy everything if it ever got out. She's desperate to keep the perfect life she's worked so hard to build, but in Rosewood deadly secrets have deadly consequences. . . .
Set in the weeks leading up to Ali's murder, this special Pretty Little Liars tale is told by the prettiest little liar of all: Ali herself. For the first time ever, we see how the mystery began . . . and how Alison DiLaurentis's life ended.
|Pretty Little Liars||October 3, 2006||1||1|
Gossip thrives amid the Mercedes-Benzes, mega mansions, and perfectly manicured hedges in the exclusive town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania. Behind their big Gucci sunglasses, beneath their perfectly pressed polos, everyone has something to hide, especially high school juniors Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna. Spencer covets her sister's gorgeous new boyfriend. Aria is having an affair with her English teacher. Emily is infatuated with the new girl at school. And Hanna is using some ugly tricks to stay beautiful. Deeper and darker still is a horrible secret the girls have shared since sixth grade- a secret they thought was safe forever.
Then the girls start receiving threatening messages signed by someone named "A." Could "A" be Alison, the ultra-popular girl who disappeared three years earlier? Alison was their best friend. She knew everything about them. But if Alison isn't "A," who is? And how could anyone else know so much about the bag girls they were and the bad girls they've become? Suddenly, their secrets- the big ones, the little ones, even the long-buried ones- no longer seem so secret. Suddenly, nothing is safe in Rosewood.
|Flawless||March 27, 2007||2||2|
In the exclusive town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania, where the sweetest smiles hide the darkest secrets, four pretty little liars- Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna- have been very bad girls.
Spencer stole her sister's boyfriend. Aria is brokenhearted over her English teacher. Emily likes her new friend Maya. . . as much more than a friend. And Hanna's obsession with looking flawless is literally making her sick. But the most horrible secret of all is something so scandalous it could destroy their perfect little lives.
And someone named "A" is threatening to do just that.
At first, they thought A was Alison, their friend who vanished three years ago... but then Alison turned up dead. So could A be Melissa, Spencer's ultra-competitive sister? Or Maya, who wants Emily all to herself. What about Toby, the mysterious guy who left town right after Alison went missing?
One thing's for certain: A's got the dirt to bury them all alive, and with every crumpled note, wicked IM, and vindictive text message A sends, the girls get a little closer to losing it all.
|Perfect||August 21, 2007||3||3|
In a town where gossip thrives like the ivy that clings to its mansions, where mysteries lie behind manicured hedges and skeletons hide in every walk-in closet, four perfect-looking girls aren't nearly as perfect as they seem.
Spencer, Aria, Emily, Hanna, and their best friend Alison were once the girls at Rosewood Day School. They clicked through the halls in their Miu Miu flats, tanned in their matching Pucci bikinis, and laughed behind their freshly manicured fingernails. They were the girl's everyone loved but secretly hated - especially Alison.
So when Alison mysteriously vanished, Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna's grief was tinged with... relief. And when Alison's body was later discovered in her own backyard, the girls were forced to unearth some ugly memories of their old friend, too. Could there have been more to Alison's death than anyone realizes?
Now someone named A, someone who seems to know everything, is pointing the finger at one of them for Alison's murder. As their secrets get darker and their scandals turn deadly, A is poised to ruin their perfect little lives forever.
|Unbelievable||May 27, 2008||4||4|
Behind Rosewood's grand facades, where the air smells like apples and Chanel No. 5 and infinity pools sparkle in landscaped backyards, nothing is as it seems. It was here, back in seventh grade, that five best friends shared everything- Seven jeans, MAC makeup, and their deepest, darkest secrets. For Aria, Spencer, Hanna, and Emily, it was a dream come true... until Alison, the most beautiful of them all, suddenly vanished.
Now someone known as A has turned their charmed lives into a living nightmare. Emily has been shipped off to her hyper-conservative cousins in Iowa. Aria is stuck living with her dad and his home-wrecker girlfriend. And Spencer fears she had something to do with Alison's murder. But Hanna's fate is far worse than all of that- she's clinging to life in the hospital, because she knew too much.
With A's threats turning dangerous and Ali's killer still on the loose, the girls must uncover the truth- about A, about Ali, and about what happened to Hanna- before they become A's next victims. But as they unravel Rosewood's mysteries and secrets, will it bring an end to the horror. . . or is it just the beginning?
|Pretty Little Secrets||January 3, 2012||11||4.5|
Rewind to junior year in Rosewood, Pennsylvania, to a winter break no one has ever heard about . . .
Fat snowflakes fall onto manicured lawns, quilted stockings hang over marble fireplaces, and everyone is at peace, especially Hanna, Emily, Aria, and Spencer. Now that Alison’s murderer is in jail and A is dead, they can finally relax. Little do they know there’s a new A in town . . .
Rule number one of being an effective stalker: Get to know your prey. So I watch these liars day and night, keeping an eye on the trouble they get into, the messes they make, and the secrets they keep. Hanna’s desperate for a very personal session with her gym trainer. Emily is number one on Santa’s naughty list. Aria’s old flame from Iceland is about to land her in hot water. And Spencer’s resorting to some backhanded tactics to get what she wants.
What happens on holiday break stays on holiday break --- right? But guess what? I was lucky enough to have seen. And now I’m telling.
|Wicked||November 25, 2008||5||5|
In idyllic Rosewood, Pennsylvania, where Burberry earmuffs keep diamond-studded ears warm, four very pretty girls have done some very wicked things. . . .
High school juniors Hanna, Spencer, Emily, and Aria have paid dearly for their sins. A stalker named "A" terrorized them for months and revealed their darkest secrets. But now that A's true identity has been revealed, the girls can finally go back to their pretty little lives.
Only, once a pretty little liar, always a pretty little liar- and these girls just can't help but be bad. Hanna will do anything to be Rosewood's queen bee. Spencer's digging up her family's secrets. Emily can't stop thinking about her new boyfriend. And Aria approves a little too strongly in her mom's taste in men.
As the secrets get darker and the scandals jucier, the consequences turn deadly. After all, girls who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. And in Rosewood, someone is always watching. . . .
|Killer||June 30, 2009||6||6|
In picture-perfect Rosewood, Pennsylvania, ash-blond highlights gleam in the winter sun and frozen lakes sparkle like Swarovski crystals. But pictures often lie—and so do Rosewood's four prettiest girls.
Hanna, Aria, Spencer, and Emily have been lying ever since they became friends with beautiful Alison DiLaurentis. Ali made them do terrible things—things they had to keep secret for years. And even though Ali was killed at the end of seventh grade, their bad-girl ways didn't die with her.
Hanna's on a mission to corrupt Rosewood's youth, starting with a very attractive sophomore. Aria's snooping into her boyfriend's past. Spencer's stealing—from her family. And pure little Emily's abstaining from abstinence.
The girls should be careful, though. They thought they were safe when Ali's killer was arrested and A's true identity was finally revealed. But now there's a new A in town turning up the heat. And this time Rosewood is going to burn.
|Heartless||January 19, 2010||7||7|
In picturesque Rosewood, Pennsylvania, neighbors gossip over picket fences, and gleaming SUVs sit in every crushed-granite driveway. But recently, friendly smiles have been replaced with suspicious glares and accusatory whispers—and it's all because Hanna, Aria, Emily, and Spencer just can't keep their mouths shut. . . .
First, they claimed they found a dead body in the woods behind Spencer's house, only to have it vanish without a trace. Then when the same woods went up in flames, they swore they saw someone who's supposed to be dead rise from the ashes. And even after all that, the pretty little liars are still playing with fire. Hanna's trading in her Dior trench for a straitjacket. Aria's trying to contact the dead. Emily's dumped her boyfriend and is skipping town . . . again. And Spencer thinks someone in her family has gotten away with murder.
The friends insist they're telling the truth about what they saw, but all of Rosewood thinks they're simply out for attention—and nobody likes a girl who cries wolf. So when the big bad killer comes after the girls, will anyone believe them . . . or will they be the next to disappear?
|Wanted||June 8, 2010||8||8|
In Rosewood, majestic estates sprawl for acres, and Tiffany toggle bracelets dangle from every girl's wrist. But not all that glitters is gold, and the town harbors secrets darker than anyone could imagine—like the truth about what really happened the night Alison DiLaurentis went missing. . . .
Back in middle school, Ali plucked Emily, Hanna, Aria, and Spencer from obscurity and turned them into the beautiful, popular girls everyone wanted to be. Ali was the best friend they ever had. But she also made them do terrible things and taunted them with their worst secrets. Now, three years later, all their questions about Ali have finally been answered and they can put this awful chapter of their lives behind them. Or so they think
Not every story has a happy ending, especially when four pretty little liars have done so many wicked things. In the dramatic conclusion of Sara Shepard's bestselling Pretty Little Liars series, Emily, Hanna, Aria, and Spencer could get everything they've ever wanted—unless A has one more horrifying twist in store.
|Twisted||July 5, 2011||9||9|
It’s been a year since the notes from A stopped and the mystery of Alison DiLaurentis’s disappearance was finally put to rest. Now seniors in high school, Aria, Spencer, Hanna, and Emily are older, but they’re not any wiser. The pretty little liars have more secrets than ever—twisted secrets that could destroy the perfect lives they’ve worked so hard to rebuild.
Aria’s jealous of her boyfriend’s new exchange student. Spencer’s getting a little too cozy with her soon-to-be-stepbrother. Hanna’s one scandalous photo away from ruining her dad’s Senate campaign. And Emily will do anything to get a swim scholarship.
Worst of all: Last spring break in Jamaica, they did something unforgivable. The girls are desperate to forget that fateful night, but they should know better than anyone that all secrets wash ashore . . . eventually. -A
|Ruthless||December 6, 2011||10||10|
For years scandal has rocked Rosewood, Pennsylvania—and high school seniors Aria, Emily, Hanna, and Spencer have always been at the center of the drama. They've lost friends, been targeted by a ruthless stalker named A, and narrowly escaped death.
And it's not over yet. Aria's love life is on the fritz. Emily's exploring her wild side. Hanna's kissing the enemy. And someone from Spencer's past—someone she never thought she'd see again—is back to haunt her. But none of that compares to what happened last spring break. It's their darkest secret yet and guess who found out?
Now A is determined to make them pay for their crime, and the only thing scarier than A is the fear that maybe, just maybe, they deserve what's coming to them.
|Stunning||June 5, 2012||12||11|
In Rosewood, Pennsylvania, four stunningly beautiful girls are haunted by a very ugly past. Spencer, Aria, Hanna, and Emily want nothing more than to forget Alison DiLaurentis, their former best friend who tried to ruin their lives. But someone refuses to let her memory die. A is still out there, lurking in the shadows and digging up the pretty little liars' newest secrets.
Emily's reconnecting with an old flame, one baby step at a time. But is she headed toward true love or another bundle of heartache? Spencer's learning about the highs and lows of campus life on a trip to Princeton. Aria's seeing a whole new side to Noel's dad—and it could drive a wedge between her and Noel. And, for better or worse, Hanna's getting in touch with her inner A.
Secret by secret, lie by lie, the girls get tangled in A's dangerous web. A knows about everything, from their tiniest transgressions to the awful incident in Jamaica. Soon A will have enough ammunition to pull the trigger and end the pretty little liars, once and for all. . . .
|Burned||December 4, 2012||13||12|
It's spring break, and the Pretty Little Liars are trading in Rosewood for a cruise vacation. They want nothing more than to sail into the tropical sunset and leave their troubles behind for one blissful week. But where Emily, Aria, Spencer, and Hanna go, A goes, too. From scuba diving to tanning on the upper deck, A is there, soaking up all their new secrets.
Emily is smooching a stowaway. Aria's treasure-hunting partner is a little too interested in her booty. Spencer's going overboard trying to land a new boy. And a blast—or rather, a crash—from Hanna's past could mean rough waters ahead for everyone. The liars better tighten their life jackets. A perfect storm is brewing, and if they aren't careful, A will bury them at sea...
|Crushed||June 4, 2013||15||
It's springtime in Rosewood, but while everyone else is searching for the perfect prom dress, Hanna, Spencer, Emily, and Aria are on a different kind of hunt: They're looking for A. . .
Hanna puts her campaign for prom queen on the back burner to volunteer at a burn clinic, where one of A's victims is recovering. Emily digs into Ali's past at the mental hospital with some very crazy consequences. Spencer contacts an amateur private eye to help her stalk her stalker. But when their sessions get a little too private, they may forget to keep their eyes on A. And Aria's worried that A is even closer than she thought. When her dark secret from Iceland comes to light, she discovers that maybe, just maybe, the one person she's been trying to hide the truth from has known all along.
The liars are finally taking the fight to A. But no matter what they do, A's always one step ahead, ready to crush the girls completely.
|Deadly||December 3, 2013||16||
In Rosewood, news vans lurk outside gated drives and FBI agents are knocking on every mansion door - and it's all because four pretty liars simply don't know how to be good. Spencer, Hanna, Emily and Aria have been keeping killer secrets for an entire year.... things that could land them in jail if A ever told.
And now A has.
One by one, the girls' worst deeds come out, and their worlds come crashing down around them. Spencer gets kicked out of Princeton. Hanna gets kicked out of her dad's campaign - and his heart. Emily gets kicked to the curb. And Aria may get kicked out of the country.
The girls are the lowest they've ever been. They've lost everything. But A's not done yet. If A's deadly plan succeeds, the liars would have told their last lie.
|Toxic||June 3, 2014||17||
High school is over for Rosewood’s four prettiest liars . . . but A’s reign of terror isn’t. In their last summer in Rosewood before college, Hanna, Emily, Aria, and Spencer must pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Thanks to A, they’ve lost everything: their college acceptances, their boyfriends and girlfriends, and in Emily’s case, even her family. But for the first time ever the girls know who A is and that A is finally working alone. It’s four against one, meaning the odds are in their favor. They’re going to end this toxic cycle once and for all.
If only it was that easy. A has been watching these girls for years and knows them better than they know themselves. Whatever A wants, A gets, and A isn’t ready for the game to be over.
|Vicious||December 4, 2014||18||
In Rosewood, Pennsylvania, reporters are lined up outside the historic courthouse, typing furiously at their iPhones with freshly manicured nails. Because the trial of the century is happening right here in Rosewood: the four pretty little liars have been accused of killing Alison DiLaurentis. Only Aria, Spencer, Hanna, and Emily know that they’ve been framed. Ali is still out there, laughing as she watches the girls go down for her murder. But when your nickname includes the word “liar,” no one believes you’re telling the truth. . . .
Aria tries to run away from it all but finds that life on the lam is even harder than life as a liar. Spencer gets in touch with someone who can help her disappear—but when a guy from her past reemerges, Spencer no longer knows what she wants. Hanna decides that she’ll hear wedding bells chime before she serves time. And in the face of prison, Emily does something truly drastic—something that will change her friends’ lives forever.
As the trial goes on and the outcome looks grim, the girls are in their darkest hour yet. But maybe they can finally figure out how to beat Ali at her own game. Because once upon a time, she was just a pretty little liar too.
|Cover||Title||Original Release||Biological / Chronological Order|
|Alison's Pretty Little Diary||September 6, 2010||6||6|
|The content is almost a repeat of the prologue of Killer. The entry that just surfaced provides a creepy inside look at the day Aria, Emily, Hanna and Spencer spoke to Ali for the first time – in the DiLaurentis's backyard. Catch Alison's secret thoughts when she first met Aria, Spencer, Hanna, and Emily.|
- Sara Shepard planned to end the series after book eight, but due to the popularity of the TV series, she was able to do eight additional books.
- The TV series influenced the books in the way of characters returning that Sara loved in the show.
- There are eighteen books in the series, not including the additional Emison novels.