Wanted by Sara Sheppard | Rating: ★★★★★
“Or perhaps all those things you missed upon first glance mean much more than you could ever guess.”
In the eighth novel in the bestselling Pretty Little Liars series loose ends begin to tie themselves up as revelations are put front and center. Wanted is one of the best of the seemingly never ending series; as questions are answered regarding the murder and disappearance of Alison DiLaurentis, four little liars are more than ready for the chance to put their dramatic pasts behind them and start fresh. Little do they know that A is only just getting started--and they're about to be blindsided by a secret none of them saw coming.
Shepard crafts, again, a deliciously dark tale of luxury, mystery and lies. Pretty Little Liars is known--and beloved--for the way the plots are woven in quick, but still neat, tell-alls and secrets. As always, it's equal parts to the point and dancing around the inner-workings to keep readers on their toes. What I, personally, liked most about Wanted was the tone it set and how the plot unraveled a bit differently in comparison to past installments. Still soap-opera-friendly, Wanted has more of a trail to explore than its predecessors and Sara Shepard crams a world of questions, answers and intrigue in this one.
Just as things in Rosewood have seemed to wrap-themselves up, despite a new mystery and murder, Aria, Hanna, Emily and Spencer find themselves in the process of digging up new truths. Questions will, as always, be answered with more questions and each layer reveals something more shocking. Perhaps, the most shocking of all, is that Alison--their former best friend--had a secret twin sister that no one knew about named Courtney. And they don't even find out in private; instead, the Dilaurentis family announces it to the entire city/world and it's this very surreal tone that is reminiscent of a soap opera.
In other words, mysteriously dramatic and undeniably sizzling. Courtney, at first, approaches the girls in a manner that is oddly similar to their beloved (and, at times, hated) Alison. Almost like she knows the girls. After a few chance occurrences, Courtney appears to be nicer and warmer than her twin sister... until she reveals that she is Alison. Their Ali--and with all she seems to know, it's easy for the girls to believe that their best-friend has been alive this whole time.
One-by-one, she makes amends with each girl. Spencer's her half-sister and she promises to be the sister she's always wanted all the while Spencer's real sister, Melissa, becomes more and more suspicious once more. She helps Hanna get revenge on mean-girls Kate, her step-sister, Naomi and Riley by exposing their drunken love letters at a school event. Aria is more hesitant at the girls friendly advances and approaches her with distrust, until Ali proves herself. Alison then rekindles her not-quite-romance with Emily.
Together, the liars are ready to start new. Best friends again, they get their shot at a new first chance and things seem to be too good to be true. As we know, in Rosewood, things are always too good to be true--and Alison isn't at all what she seems. I love the twist that came next--their Alison was never the real Ali at all; all along, the girls were friends with Courtney Dilaurentis, while Ali had been forced to take the other girls place.
All this time... their new tormentor, the second A, and the killer, was Alison. Oh the way it all unfolded was so fun and unexpected that first time I'd read it! I'm still so pleased with the plotline and the mystery of Alison and Courtney. It left me with a lot of questions (that are solved in later books) on whether one twin was really good and one was blatantly evil.
One thing was certain, the Dilaurentis family is certainly twisted and beyond repair messy. It's all so very dramatic and thoughtfully put together. I loved the dark tone and the way Sara approached the possibility of mental illness in both twins. I'll forever be disappointed that we didn't get to see this twin-plot unfold on screens; it would have been far more intriguing/fun than what they have in place of it, which I'm still fond of in its own way.
Looking back, it can be at times offensive how she portrays the very same plot, but overall is a delightful mess and that's what makes me so fond of Wanted. I thought it was the perfect then-ending to a series and that the reveal was much better than Mona-as-A. As always, the girls were fantastic and I loved seeing the four bond again--they really needed each other and for this to happen from the start. It doesn't hurt that the romance is on point in this one, even with the painful flaw of Emison.
Stylish and quick witted, this mystery keeps you on the edge of your seat from the first chapter. I'll never get sick of it.