Flawless (PLL #2) by Sara Shepard | Rating: ★★★★☆
"Sometimes I feel kind of wrong here. I used to be normal, but now... I don't know. I feel like I should be one way, but I'm not."
Toby stared at her. "I hear that." He sighed. "There are all these perfect people here. And... it's like, if you're not one of the,. then you're messed up. But I think, inside, the flawless-looking people are just as messed up as we are."
In Flawless, the second installment of the hugely popular Pretty Little Liars series, we are welcomed back to Rosewood, PA, where the houses are huge, the fashion is on point, the girls are pretty and filled to the brim with secrets and lies. We pick up right where we left off in Pretty Little Liars -- Alison DiLaurentis body was found, and these little liars who were once upon a time best friends are being stalked and threatened by an unknown source. A.
But who is A, and how do they know all these secrets?
Better yet, how does A know secrets only Ali knew? Each girl carries the weight of more than a few secrets and the further they get into the plot, the more isolated they become from everything. With each chapter, we see more and more just how dangerous A is getting. And the suspect list continues to grow with every discovery.
Spencer Hastings is in some hot water over having affair with her sisters ex fiance, Wren. But will things heat up only to fizzle out? And where does this leave Melissa? Things are only going to get trickier here on out in her home life, something she is so not looking forward to. Emily Fields is struggling even more with her sexuality and having to keep it all inside. There's no way her parents will ever accept or understand this part -- and things only get more complicated in this book.
Then we have Aria Montgomery and one of her teachers, Ezra Fitz, who are certainly in the danger zone. Unfortunately for her, her family is seeming to fall apart, too. What's a girl to do? Leaning on a cute boy, who isn't Mr. Fitz, seems like the right answer...
And last but certainly not least, Hanna Marin is struggling to keep Sean's heart for good, her popularity and ditch the secret of an eating disorder all while dodging the fact that her father really is moving on with his life -- a whole new family, to boot.
So where does that leave her? He makes a reappearance to try and mend things with his daughter, but in Rosewood nothing goes as planned. And why is Sean suddenly interested in...
Well. You'll see.
We're just getting into the groove of things when new secrets are exposed, in particular, we learn quite a bit more about The Jenna Thing. It's one of the darkest secrets the girls share and it doesn't seem to be staying buried. While Ali was still alive, they attempted to play a prank on the totally sleazy Toby Cavanaugh (I'm still so sad about his character in the books!) but just as Ali was close to doing so, she sees something totally gross and startling -- involving Toby's step sister, Jenna. Ali accidentally loses control of the prank and leaves Jenna blinded in the process.
Poor Jenna. Seriously, poor Jenna...
Ali, being Ali, convinces (blackmails) Toby to take the blame.
Now everything is coming to a boil on the surface with the return of Toby. But is everything as it seems? Is Toby behind the series of events that have followed recently? Could he be Ali's killer? Or could this be the start of a new and needed friendship, possibly romance, between Emily and Toby? Since nothing is ever as it seems, I can tell you you are in for a twisty ride in the lives of the little liars.
Personally, Emily and Toby's scenes are some of my favorites in the earlier parts of the series. Although Toby isn't a good person, he genuinely seems to be struggle towards a path of redemption and it's something that should have been explored further. It's dark and very fitting for the series.
In Flawless, there's the usual drama but there's also a topic of suicide. That's my only real trigger warning.
Overall, it's a solid sequel and really sets the stage for all that is to come. It's dramatic and dishy and an intriguing read. Flawless kept me focused on edge throughout the entire story and left me begging for more. This goes without saying that it's easy to understand why the series was a favorite of mine in my teens and why it continues to be entertaining for me. Pretty Little Liars is a wild ride, and Flawless is the point where you really need to buckle in and enjoy every moment of it.