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Twisted by Sara Shepard

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Pretty Little Liars is far from your basic mean girls series, or at least it was until its latest installment, Twisted, was published. The books before Twisted were somewhat shallow, but still suspenseful and well thought out. However, I felt that Twisted was a huge letdown; it maintained the major flaws of the series but seriously toned down what made the books so appealing.


The Pretty Little Liars series follows the lives of four former best friends, Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna, and the various ways their lives progress after the mysterious disappearance of their friend Ali. Throughout the series, the girls struggle with a dangerously clever stalker, known only as ‘A’, as they uncover the secrets surrounding Ali’s unexplained disappearance. There is a defined layout to the way these books play out; in every book, each of the four girls has her own individual problems and secrets that ‘A’ discovers and threatens to expose. Twisted is no exception to this; Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna all develop issues that they would rather be kept quiet.


One of my main pet peeves with Twisted is the plot. I couldn’t help but feel as though the book had been whittled down to little more than a clichéd drama. In the previous books, the major conflict was suspenseful and intricate; a maze, with a defined beginning point and solution, but so many misleading paths to go down, not to mention some dangerous dead ends. However, despite the mysterious and sometimes even life threatening situations Emily, Aria, Spencer, and Hanna found themselves thrown into, they were still high school girls in the end, complete with crushes, homework, and jealousy. Twisted is primarily centered on conflicts of this nature; instead of trying to discover who started the devastating fire or figuring out the identity of a murderer, there are photography scams and jealousy over entirely- too- blond exchange students. The conflicts aren’t unrealistic, but they didn’t exactly have me gnawing my fingers off and reading until dawn.


While I was reading Twisted, I couldn’t stop the question that kept on cropping up: what’s the point? There weren’t any new developments with the overall conflict of the series; no new secrets uncovered, no sudden plot twists like the ones Sara Shepard is so famed for. Essentially, it had the feel of a particularly lengthy filler chapter; something one might simply scan over to get the general point of. While I understand the need for filler chapters, I can’t help but sigh at the prospect of a filler book.


There was another issue that gnawed at the back of my brain while I read the ninth installment of the series; a small one, but irritating nonetheless. Spencer, Emily, Aria, and Hanna didn’t seem to have matured or progressed at all throughout the series, particularly in Twisted. The conflicts they were faced with in this book bore too close a resemblance to those in the others books in the series. I found myself rolling my eyes at several points throughout the book, simply because the mistakes the girls made were so like ones they had already struggled to overcome. Their previous wrongdoings, standard to those made by most high school girls, made them realistic characters; by now, however, they should have pressed their hands against hot coals enough times to realize that it will hurt.


Twisted also gave me the distinct feeling that it was forced out; that the words themselves knew they didn’t need to be placed in that order and with that title, but they were given no choice but to sigh and resign themselves to it anyway. The conclusion of the book preceding Twisted, Wanted, ended off with the perfect cliffhanger; mysterious enough to leave any reader homicidal, but not open ended enough to warrant a sequel [not to mention the series’ tenth book Ruthless, which is to be released in December of 2011]. Wanted also had the feel of a clear resolution. Twisted honestly came as a surprise to me; Wanted was such a good finale to the Pretty Little Liars series that I hadn’t expected, or wanted, more. I tried to wrap my mind around the idea of a ninth book, but something kept the folds of my brain from completely closing around Twisted; I had the nagging suspicion that it was more so a ploy to keep the franchise going.


Overall, Twisted did not reach my expectations as the other Pretty Little Liars books did. Twisted was entertaining but not intriguing, dramatic but not suspenseful, easy to read but not exciting. It had the familiar, relatable voice and distinct characters, but it lacked the spark that made the previous books of the series so compelling.





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Empress1221 said...
Oct. 17, 2011 at 8:39 pm
Great review and wonderfully written! Perhaps Sara Shepard should take these thoughts and suggestions into consideration. A serious should be getting better and more interesting - not continue just for the sake of continuing. I know as fans we would love for it continue forever, but sometimes an author needs to quit while they're ahead.
 
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