Few things are as endlessly entertaining as depictions of Philadelphia in pop culture, which is why we're launching The 19102 Review, a new column devoted to Philly books.
Flawless: A Pretty Little Liars Novel
YA, 2007, HarperTeen, 352 pp.
The four liars of Flawless, the second book of the Main Line-set Pretty Little Liars series, are a postmoral Baby-Sitters Club. There’s Hanna, the secretly insecure bulimic pretty girl; Aria, the secretly insecure artsy kid; Spencer, the secretly insecure overachiever; and Emily, the secretly insecure (and secretly gay) athlete.
The girls were close in middle school, led by horrific Queen Bee Ali. One of Ali’s hilarious pranks led to the blinding of an unpopular classmate and the mysterious “A” has discovered the truth. But Ali’s been missing for three years and Flawless opens with the discovery of her body. After a speedy prologue recapping the events of the debut novel, the girls get down to business: figuring out who “A” is and how (s)he knows their secrets. Also: talking about expensive things.
If a reader were to dog-ear each reference to a high-end brand, Flawless would end up pretty mangled. And few things date a six-year old book more than cell-phone technology: the girls are constantly pinged on their Sidekick or their Treo. Their home of Rosewood, loosely based on the Main Line’s Rosemont, is apparently the place to be and be seen: The novel climaxes at Foxy, the charity ball for “young members of Rosewood society,” where glamorous attendees can hope to be photographed for the Inquirer and “glam-R5.com,” which definitely should exist in real life.
As a mystery, Flawless is commandingly diverting. As characters, however, the Liars are uniformly horrible — and pretty uniform: Types aside, there is no discernible difference in voice amongst the girls. (Thank goodness the author doesn’t rely on pronouns.) There are 13 books in the Pretty Little Liars series so far, with three left to go. This reader can’t wait for the antimoral.
If you have a book that'd be perfect for The 19102 Review (the dustier, the better), email ten.repapytic@gylime, or just drop it in the mail it to Emily Guendelsberger at Philadelphia City Paper, 30 S. 15th St., 14th floor, 19102.
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