Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Lying Game Forces Me to Read Pretty Little Liars (and Continues My Newfound Love for eBooks)

I've said before that I'm not much of a YA reader. However, that has changed since I returned to the classroom this year as a middle school language arts teacher. I have been trying to make a concerted effort to add YA titles to my reading list, so that I can communicate with my students about what they're reading, make recommendations, and (perhaps) add appropriate titles to my classroom library.

I also recently started reading ebooks (late start on that trend, huh?) via my iPod touch. Some have said they don't understand how I can read on something so small. The truth is, it's very handy for reading in bed. The small size doesn't matter so much when you're holding it fairly close to your face. I'm enjoying ebooks more than I ever thought I would. I had the opportunity to read Michael Koryta's upcoming novel The Cypress House in ebook form, and the bug bit me. I needed more. Using the site NetGalley (highly recommend to other book bloggers!), I've connected with several publishers and read a few more fabulous titles, including Sara Shepard's latest novel The Lying Game. Yep, that Sara Shepard. Author of the wildly popular snarky-rich-girl series Pretty Little Liars, which rocketed to fame after the ABC Family channel started airing a television series based on the novels. I haven't seen the show, but I am now reading the series to compare it to my experience with The Lying Game.

The Lying Game begins a separate series for Shepard from Pretty Little Liars, but from what I can tell so far, is similar in many ways. The characters are teenage girls, many well-to-do, who text, tweet, and use Facebook constantly. However, far from your regular old Gossip Girl-esque storyline, Shepard combines smart YA with my favorite type of novel -- the mystery/thriller. I don't know the plot of the PLL series (I just began book one last night), but The Lying Game has a fabulous premise. Shepard incorporates the paranormal into this series from the very first page, when we learn that the narrator is a dead girl, trapped forever to follow the main character around. Unlikely premise, but Shepard makes it believable within the novel's confines and defintely makes things interesting from the get-go.

Emma has been tossed around the foster system her entire life. She carries with her vague memories of her biological mother, but it's been years since she last saw her. When she comes across a video of a girl who looks exactly like her, she leaves her not-so-great-anyway foster family and heads for Tucson, Arizona, to meet up with this twin. After arriving, Emma realizes all is not sunny in Tucson. Sutton, her lookalike, is missing. Did she run away as part of an elaborate scheme, or is something more sinister going on? The dead narrator learns a lot about her former life while shadowing Emma's activities.

This book grabbed me from the first page and made me appreciate current YA fiction. Shepard does an excellent job of realistically describing teenagers living in 2011. They live in an age where immediacy is the most important thing -- a world in which nothing is secret, because all things are being broadcast via multiple mediums. From Twitter to Facebook, Shepard captures the lives of today's teenagers with precision.

I will say one negative thing about the novel after all my raving -- the ending was one of the most frustrating I'v ever read. As this novel begins a new series for Shepard, many plotlines are left dangling. Like any good soap opera, Shepard ensures that readers will keep coming back for more. I just don't know if I can wait for the next Lying Game book to be released -- Amazon lists it as not releasing until August! Until then, I have eight Pretty Little Liars books to read (and a television series to catch up on, of course!). Pretty Little Liars returned to ABC Family last night and can be seen on Mondays.

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