Book review: Flawless by Sara Shepard

When I said I couldn’t wait to read Flawless after finishing Pretty Little Liars, that wasn’t empty words. I just finished posting my review before I got the next book and started on the first chapter. Now that I’m done, I’d very much like to buy the next and keep going. But I can’t, because I’ve spent my limit for the whole month already and have to wait until next month. And okay, I have lots of other books I can read in the meantime, but I really want to keep going with this series.

I can’t help but feel for all four of these main characters even when they’re behaving badly. Emily’s in denial about her sexuality and is making some bad choices that can only come back to burn her sometime soon. Hanna’s paying for her actions in the previous book, but set on a crash course that may lead back to bulimia. Spencer’s still trying to keep her affair with her sister’s ex a secret, even as this is having an impact on her schoolwork and life at home. And Aria is leaving a family secret festering until it can’t be hidden any longer. All of this is merely side dressing to the central plot of A and their merciless manipulations of the four former friends.

And they are still former friends, with each girl unwilling to share her secrets because of fear of rejection and abandonment. This is the part that rings most true for me, having dealt with blackmail at a very early age. The threat of exposure is so frightening that no one can be trusted, even those who seem closest. It doesn’t help that for each of these girls, there’s someone that they feel they can trust who ends up betraying them.

If anything, it’s the fear that’s making them more self-destructive, and that too feels very authentic to me. Part of me is exasperated because “Why don’t they just tell each other?” But there’s another quieter voice that insists, “You know all too well why they can’t.” And I do; I really get it. So I understand why Emily is in the closet, why Hana can’t talk to the others or to her best friend Mona, why Aria can’t talk to her parents, and why Spencer can’t just tell the others what she knows about Alison. I get it, so all I can do is watch these four crash and burn, manipulated by someone who is enjoying watching them flail.

Near the end of the book, Spencer thinks she knows who A is, and she gathers her friends, possibly too late, it might seem. But A isn’t who she thinks they are, and instead, another body turns up while more taunting messages keep pouring in. So who is A? If it isn’t Alison or anyone connected to her, how do they know so much about Alison’s friends?

I’m sure the answer won’t be in the next book, but at this point, I wouldn’t be reading it for a revelation. I like…no, I love these four characters, and I want to see what happens next, even if I have a bad feeling things are only going to get worse for all of them.

I’ll give 5 stars to Flawless, and as soon as I have some money free to buy more books, I’ll be eagerly snapping up Perfect and digging into its dirty little secrets.