Read Unbelievable by Sara Shepard Free Online
Book Title: Unbelievable|
ISBN 13: 9781615580149
The author of the book: Sara Shepard
Edition: HarperCollins Publishers
Date of issue: November 25th 2008
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 7.47 MB
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Reader ratings: 5.5
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The end of this cycle of Pretty Little Liars, although sadly the series is somehow continued.
We commence with a prequel rehashing absolutely every dull thing that happened before the disappearance of the infamous and appalling Alison, and reminding us of Shepard’s obsession with Bratz dolls. Then we’re back where we left off, as all the characters gather in a hospital waiting room to hear whether Hanna has survived her cliff-hanger car accident. Emily is not present however, as she has somehow managed to get onto a plane to Iowa whilst everyone else was distracted with this whole accident business. Aria has attended, but is less concerned with her friend’s potential death than with telling the police that another friend (Spencer, for ‘reasons’ mentioned in the previous book) is probably the mystery killer. Luckily Officer Wilden, the only local policeman, is fully aware of the details of every teenage girl in Rosewood’s love-life from 3½ years ago and is also slightly less stupid than Aria, so he is able to point out that none of the previous book made sense and Aria is wrong. Clumsily forced prime suspect this book is Melissa, Spencer’s sister. We know this because Shepard suddenly starts inserting jarring references to people suspecting her, although there is no particular reason to do so at this stage, or indeed at all.
Meanwhile Hanna has some sort of near-death-experience vision thing that makes no sense and basically consists of the whole prologue written out again, presumably for padding. Aria’s teacher-boyfriend loses his job due to his inappropriate sexual behaviour, but thanks to the typically lacklustre Rosewood Police Department there are no legal ramifications and he is free to continue to molest young girls as he wishes. He then immediately moves away in order to draw the storyline to a close, leaving Aria with the romantic parting gift of a William Shakespeare bobblehead. Three paragraphs later she has forgotten all about him and decided to take a course on “Mindless Art”, for which she is obviously well fitted. Elsewhere, Emily’s trip to Iowa turns out to be a disappointment; although the phrase ‘American Gothic’ is used a few times, in lieu of Shepard actually evoking it (not a possibility with her limited skills), it almost immediately turns out that Iowa is exactly the same as Rosewood, but with less money and a backdrop the author admits to lifting from the lazy American remake of the Ring Ring 1 film. Emily’s cousins all turn out to be obsessed with parties and sex, and she immediately meets a sexy lesbian who fancies her. Directly after this it turns out that Emily’s cousin is a bitch, just like every other female in these books, and Emily is sent straight back to Rosewood. She has the misfortune of having to briefly come into contact with poor people on the way, but mercifully makes it through the horror unscathed and returns to her parents, who have forgotten that they are racist and homophobic. This leaves her with no problems, but she swiftly corrects that by deciding that she’s in love with Trista from Iowa instead of her girlfriend, even though she only met Trista once and all they talked about was chocolate.
Spencer, meanwhile, is rewarded for trying to kill her sister with a luxury beach holiday. She spends her time reminiscing with her sister about their childhood torture of ponies, and planning a candlelit vigil / glamorous social event for Hanna. Aria’s brother Mike continues to be a sex obsessed pig and potential rapist, but no one cares. Hanna remains in a coma, although she does still have a “taut, young body” and attentive boyfriend to read her magazine articles on Lancôme Soleil Flash Browner tinted mousse, so it’s not all bad. The Rosewood Stalker is mentioned once a chapter, but continues to refrain from actually doing anything. Everyone continues to be drowning in expensive possessions, none of which they’re grateful for.
Hanna eventually wakes up, but is unfortunately suffering from a very specific form of plot-assisting amnesia which causes her to be unable to remember all the relevant murder-related stuff she realised just before her accident. She is however well enough to immediately demand a private room, a portable DVD player, an orthopaedic mattress and a masquerade party. Meanwhile an awful lot of nothing happens. Spencer’s dull essay fraud drags on. Spender and Mona indulge in some therapeutic knicker-flashing. Mike the pervert sexually harasses some nurses and the bed-bound Hanna for a bit, even though there’s no reason for him to be at the hospital. Mona reveals that she’s been getting mystery texts from ‘A’ as well, which have exactly as much impact on the plot as all the previous texts. Aria becomes furiously jealous that the girl she helped blind is going to have her art exhibited, even though she herself has shown virtually no interest in art throughout this series (She is the “Artistic One”, but that mainly entails her dressing like the world’s richest hipster rather than doing anything creative). Mike sexually harasses Emily again about her lesbianism, but she’s pretty sure he isn’t doing it in a mean way, so that’s okay. One of Melissa’s boyfriends sexually harasses Spencer again, but as usual she has no feelings on the matter and just placidly waits until the assault is interrupted. Hanna frets over whether her latest sexual obsession is cool enough to date. Emily and Maya are voted ‘Couple Most Likely to be Together at the 5-Year Reunion”, presumably on the strength of that one photo of them kissing at a party that did the rounds of the school. Everybody gathers periodically to restate everything they know about the murder/blackmail stuff, come up with no new ideas, and then leave. Aria is briefly worried because her brother refrains from making a sexist remark for over a minute, but mercifully he is soon back on form. Spencer’s recovered memories and Hanna’s prophetic dreams continue periodically, just in case the reader was in danger of taking any of this seriously for a second.
By this point in this series each individual event is taking place purely for the sake of drama, and makes no narrative sense. Trista from Iowa suddenly flying to Rosewood and turning up unannounced in the middle of the school? Aria trusting ‘A’’s helpful advice even though ‘A’ has repeatedly threatened all her friends and possibly tried to kill one of them? I don't suppose it's worth asking why.
Eventually everyone attends Hanna’s masquerade party, which charmingly features dozens of scantily-clad “man-slaves”, presumably dying inside as they carry a spoilt little rich girl around on a tasselled bed. The mask theme forces us to endure Hanna and Mona talking at some length in hushed and reverential tones about their Dior masks, previously used at a fashion show, as though they are holy relics. The party also serves as an opportunity for Rosewood’s second police officer to appear and start questioning teen girls about a delicate matter right in the middle of a massive social occasion. This seems an unusual way to handle a police investigation to me, but at least it gives Officer Simmons a chance for a night out. Aria skips the party however in order to hang around on her own, in the dark, in a thunderstorm, waiting to be attacked, even though this is completely unnecessary. Jenna reveals that her accident was even stupider than it first seemed. Then the four girls decide that they must stick together to stay safe, before immediately separating so that some of them can meet Justin Timberlake. Surprisingly enough this leads to one of them being in danger, although unfairly not the Justin Timberlake fan.
The dénouement is your standard “where are you taking me?” victim-trapped-with-a-person-who-they-realise-too-late-is-the-perpetrator scenario, coupled with a car chase where the Rosewood police once again inexplicably let teenagers accompany them on sensitive and dangerous official business. The Jenna Incident is also moved up to a new level of ridiculousness in order to try to explain events. Matters are then quickly resolved when Mona the Blackmailer falls into a convenient quarry. Hanna gives a swift eulogy fondly recalling the time when she and Mona came to the same quarry to deliberately sexually tease young boys with a swimsuit “fashion show”, and the blackmail problem is solved. Moving on to the issue of the murderer, the police immediately head to arrest Melissa’s ex-ex-boyfriend-ex, or whatever he is now, Ian on the hearsay evidence of the accusation of a potential crazy blackmailer. He isn’t at home, so they panic and ask the teenage girls what to do. Nobody is sure, so they all head home for now, and the police leave then unattended somewhere on the road where the murder took place, in the dark. They immediately bump into Ian, and he is promptly arrested.
Afterward a number of minor details of the characters’ lives, none of which I care about, are wrapped up. Nobody questions Spencer about throwing Mona into a quarry because Mona was a bit of a bitch, so that’s fine and no legal issues remain to concern anyone. Hanna’s parents swap houses for some reason, whilst Hanna reflects on how her best friend’s death will leave her with no competition for the position of most popular girl in school. She also deletes vital evidence from Mona’s phone in order to avoid the vague possibility of some social embarrassment for herself. Everything is fixed and there is no need whatsoever for the series to continue. But wait…whose were the blue eyes Emily saw peering from a blacked-out car? Could she have seen Alison? Granted none of the other sightings were actually her, but still, for cliffhanger reasons maybe this time it is? Maybe things aren’t over after all. Maybe there’s profit to be made in recycling this whole series of over again?
Worst Competitive Swimming Slogan
Brett, Todd and Xavi
Most Obvious Sign of an Eating Disorder Which Goes Unquestioned
Hanna demanding to know how many calories she’s getting via her hospital IV drip, and realising delightedly that she’s lost some weight whilst she was in her coma.
Most Ridiculous Product of Which I Was Previously Unaware
Orbit Mint Mojito gum
Worst Gift From a Mother to Her Newly Out Lesbian Daughter
Finding Nemo, because in it “Ellen DeGeneres …[is]… a fish—a lesbian swimmer, just like Emily.”
Most Pathetic Attempt to Show Off
“Nah, I bet they’re giving her painkillers.” Mason’s parents were doctors, so he always busted out his medical knowledge.”
Leaving aside the use of the term “busted-out”, can guessing that a girl who’s been in a major car accident will be on painkillers really be considered insider medical knowledge?
Least Exciting Debate
“Bisque or ivory napkins?”
Most Cliched Sentence
Although the competition was stiff, I’m going to go with a classic:
“We all wear masks in our own ways, don’t we?”
Said during a mask-making class, to a girl who will soon be attending a masquerade ball. Ms.Shepard has never been one for subtlety.
Most Inappropriate Teacher
Ezra Fitz has held this title with ease for the last 3 books, but is now challenged by P.E teacher Mr.Draznowsky and his habit of giving the girls regular impromptu advice on contraception, whether they want him to or not.
Weirdest Potential Hooters Waitress Names
“Randi? Fifi? Oh! What about Caitlin?”
Caitlin? Have I missed summat here?
Most Self-Injurious Highlighting of a Plothole Which Remains Unexplained
“Why didn’t the cops find …[Alison’s]… diary when she went missing?” she sputtered. …
“Who the hell knows?””
Most Snobbish Social Comment
“Hanna crammed into the back of Wilden’s squad car next to Aria and Emily. It was where criminals—not that Rosewood had many—typically sat.”
No criminals in Rosewood. Although there was that murder. And that time Hanna was arrested for shoplifting. And that time she stole that medication. And Aria’s molester teacher. And the hit-and-run perpetrator. And the stalker. And the blackmailer. And all that sexual harassment. But that was all perpetrated by elegant upper class people who were just making mistakes, or were excitingly crazy for narrative reasons, not criminals. Criminals are lower-class people with no respect for the law and morality. Totally different thing.
As it turned out, the basis of this series seems to be a re-working of Twin Peaks with all the characters removed and the life and originality sucked out, for the benefit of idiots. A beautiful blonde girl dies in mysterious circumstances leaving behind a potentially clue-filled and scandalous diary and a whole town of people obsess over her death, trying to uncover her secrets and discover the identity of her murderer. Unfortunately in this case all her secrets were terrible, and everyone she knew was horribly boring and obsessed with themselves and their hair. I wish I’d re-read The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer instead.
My main problem with this book was the almost complete lack of momentum caused by the poor plotting, lack of content and unbelievable characters. It basically amounts to a clutch of blank spaces in different outfits standing about waiting to reach the last chapter. It’s pretty much impossible to build up suspense when nobody’s actions make any sense or have any logical consequences. The biggest puzzle of all is how, given Shepard ran out of any ideas somewhere near the beginning of the second book, this series can be continued. Sadly, I’m probably stupid enough to try to find out.
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Read information about the authorSara Shepard graduated from NYU and has an MFA from Brooklyn College. She has lived in New York City, Brooklyn, Tucson, Arizona, Philadelphia, and now lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Sara's Pretty Little Liars novels were inspired by her upbringing in Philadelphia's Main Line.
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