I listen to a Podcast called Super Serials and every week they have a discussion about a Middle Grade or Young Adult book. Generally they're books like Babysitter's Club, Sweet Valley Twins, or Animorphs but lately they've been mixing in a few more Young Adult books. Back in December they did Pretty Little Liars and The Princess Diaries which are two books I've been thinking about reading. I thought it'd be fun to give them a read and see what I thought.
Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shephard -
My library had an audio copy and I ended up going that way. The book is read by Cassandra Morris who does a fantastic job of making the teenage girls sound like teenage girls without going over to caricature. The basic premise of the story is that you have a group of 5 popular 7th grade girls and 1 goes missing. Three years later the 4 remaining girls start getting texts or emails signed with the initial "A" (the missing girl's name was Allison) and whoever is sending them knows all their secrets. From the beginning I kind of felt like the book was written to be a TV show. I can't exactly say why but something about the way the scenes are set and the dialogue feels like a TV show. I really loved the premise and the way it unraveled and I wanted to know what all was going to happen. BUT - I'm definitely way older than the target market for this book and it was very apparent to me. I felt like the middle of the book took way to long and there was too much time of the girls kind of spinning their wheels and worrying about life decisions, what was going on, what people were going to think, etc and I just wanted stuff to happen! Overall, I enjoyed this though it was never something I was super excited to start back up and get back into the story. I'm not sure if I'll continue with the series but I do want to find out what happens and how everything wraps up so I might. This doesn't end of a cliffhanger necessarily but there are a lot of questions at the end. I watched the first couple of episodes of the show to see how it differed and it was pretty similar. The main difference is in the book 3 years have passed since Allison disappeared and in the show only 1 year had passed.
My Rating: Just Okay though I am glad I listened.
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot -
Mia Thermopolis is an awkward fourteen year old high school freshman who doesn't feel like she fits in anywhere. It doesn't help when her mother starts dating Mia's algebra teach (whose class she is failing) or when her father comes to town to hell her that not only is he a prince but she is the heir to the throne of the principality Genovia. Lots of angst and fretting follows this announcement and the middle got really slow and Mia fretted and worried and got horribly embarrassed or incredibly self-righteous. Mia's friend Lily drove me CRAZY! Up until the end I really had no idea why Mia was friends with her other than the fact that she didn't have anyone else. Lily is really awful to Mia but doesn't spend much time looking at her own actions. I did really enjoy the last quarter of the book when Mia really started figuring things out and stopped wringing her hands and the last 20 pages or so had me smiling. Grand-mere is definitely much more formidable than the Julie Andrews version but by the end I kind of liked her. This wasn't my favorite read but it was entertaining and I loved the authenticity Cabot brings to the character. They sound and act like teenagers which at times is great and at other times not so much.
My Rating: Good though that's mostly on the strength of the 2nd half of the book
While both books involve high school students the characters couldn't be more different. The PLL girls are definitely on the popular side whereas Mia is definitely on the outside. There's sex, lots of alcohol and a dash of drugs in Pretty Little Liars where Mia hasn't been kissed and only drinks wine at dinner in France and isn't a big fan of it. I'm not a big YA reader so I don't have much to compare these too but I found the stories both really interesting. While I won't be dashing out to pick up the next book for both series right away I do plan on continuing with them both. I want to find out what happens!