The Complete Guide to the Pretty Little Liars Series by Sara Shepard

Pretty Little Liars is one of the most popular (and longest) YA book series. Sara Shepard’s book series even spurred multiple TV shows, including one that premiered last summer: Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin.

If you’re someone who is familiar with the TV shows, but not the book series, we’ve created this ultimate guide so you can learn about all of the books. The series consists of 16 books, 18 if you also factor in the two companion novels. If you want to know the difference between the book series and the original television show that premiered in 2010, check out: Book vs TV Show: Pretty Little Liars.

We also included a character guide in this post. While we didn’t include all of the characters in the books, we highlighted the ones that play a major role in the entire series.

Warning: Spoilers if you haven’t read the Pretty Little Liars series.

The Pretty Little Liars Series

1. Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars begins with the disappearance of Alison DiLaurentis three years ago. Since then, her four former best friends have tried to move on with their lives. Now that Aria Montgomery, Spencer Hastings, Hanna Marin and Emily Fields are all back in Rosewood, Pennsylvania, someone starts sending them threatening messages, signed A.

The liars have no idea who A is and it takes them back to the night Ali disappeared. A somehow knows all of their secrets, including things they only told Ali. After years of being separated, the four girls must come together to figure out what happened to Ali and who is harassing them now.

2. Flawless

After the events in Pretty Little Liars, the girls are no closer to figuring out who A is. But somehow, A know all their darkest secrets. The former friends must work together if they want any chance in stopping A. They all have their theories, but all of them seem wrong.

At the same time, Ali’s body is found, causing the police to start their murder investigation. Rosewood is a town full of secrets and at least one person is a killer.

3. Perfect

Aria, Spencer, Hanna and Emily feel like they’re nowhere closer to solving what happened to Ali and discovering who is behind those threatening messages. Fortunately for A, the girls keep making As job easier. They’re all struggling with even more secrets as they learn more about themselves and decide what they truly want.

4. Unbelievable

The first four Pretty Little Liars books feel like the first part of the series. The identity of the first A is revealed and no one is safe. The girls finally realize how serious this situation was and how close A was to destroying their lives. Spoiler: A is someone they know well and at least one of the characters trusted this person. The question is how do they move forward?

5. Wicked

A is gone and everyone can go back to normal, right? Wrong! When a new A starts sending the girls messages, they know it isn’t the same person as last time. This A is even more determined to see these girls fall.

But that’s not all. They all have their personal drama that’s making As life even easier. To end the story, they girls find a body in the woods, who happens to belong to the person they believe killed Ali. But when they arrive with the police, the body is gone. With a new A in charged and their investigation coming to halt, the girls don’t know what’s going to happen next.

6. Killer

The girls thought they were safe, but when the new A showed up, their lives unraveled. However, that hasn’t changed their actions yet. Hanna, Emily, Spencer and Aria have even more secrets than ever before.

When the girls learn that the person they thought killed Ali was really just framed, they feel like they are back to square one. But does A want to harm them, use them for finding the killer’s identify or maybe both?

7. Heartless

Everyone in Rosewood, Pennsylvania is a suspect. But this time, the police arrest Ali’s alleged killer and claim he has done it more than once. But this leaves the girls wondering if that person was A or if they are two separate people.

At the same time, Spencer looks more into the past and wonders if her parents had anything to do with that night at the end of 7th grade. She does know that they’re hiding something major from her and that it involves Ali.

8. Wanted

The girls knew that Ali kept secrets from them. However, they didn’t know that one of them was that Ali had a twin sister named Courtney. When Courtney moves to Rosewood, she gets a mixed reaction. Some are excited, while others don’t trust her.

Courtney reveals that she is the real Ali and her twin sister pretended to be her. Since she wants to get reacquainted with her former besties, Ali invites them to the Poconos house after the school dance.

But the girls learn it was a trap. The girl they were friends with in middle school was the real Courtney pretending to be Ali and Ali had her killed for ruining her life and getting her locked up in a mental institution. The real Ali tries to kill the girls at the mountain house by setting it on fire. While all the girls escape, they’re unsure if Ali made it out or not. Ali has been the new A.

9. Twisted

It’s been an entire year since the messages from A and the disastrous night in the Poconos. The girls are seniors in high school and they’re ready to move on from Ali. But the girls haven’t been innocent. Over their spring trip to Jamaica, they did something that can’t be undone.

Now, the girls are trying to keep that secret. Everything changes when A is back and they believe that Ali somehow survived and was waiting to get her revenge. To make matters worse, the girls see on the news that a body was found in Jamaica and it was a girl named Tabitha, meaning they hurt someone innocent.

10. Ruthless

Jamaica isn’t the only secret the girls want to keep hidden. Over the summer, all four girls did something they weren’t proud and are trying to keep hidden. But with A’s threats looming, the girls know they need to come clean. But A is also getting more violent, making the situation even more terrifying than before.

11. Stunning

The girls are still trying to hide what happened in Jamaica. The good news is the police are not investigating because Tabitha seemed to be drunk.

This book focuses a lot on Emily’s big secret from the summer. Emily was pregnant and gave birth over the summer, which she hid from her parents. She eventually told her friends, who helped her put the baby up for adoption. But this leads all of them into a new scandal.

Finally, the girls meet Tabitha’s dad, who informs them that there was no alcohol in Tabitha’s system, meaning he believes there was foul play.

12. Burned

It’s time for a cruise. Rosewood Day students are spending a week in the Caribbean. It sounds perfect until they realize that A and their secrets have followed them. Somehow the new A either became a stowaway or is one of their classmates.

After a week of tanning, relationship drama and finding out who the new A is, the girls are ready to return home. When they get back to Rosewood, Pennsylvania, they learn more about what happened to Tabitha. They didn’t do anything. Alison is still alive and pulling the strings.

13. Crushed

The girls are finally ready to confront Ali once and for all. It’s time for them to team up and learn everything they can about her and where she might be hiding. They start their investigation with a website that has facts about Ali. Whoever runs the site believes she’s still alive.

But Ali is always one step ahead. She even fakes another identity to mess with the girls. Eventually, she leaves them a note that leads them to a shed, where Aria’s boyfriend Noel has been hurt badly. Consider this Ali’s warning.

14. Deadly

Alison finally went through with her threat to tell all of the secrets she knows and make them public. This only makes them more determined than ever to take Ali down. They’ve suspected for a while that Ali wasn’t working alone and through an investigation, they find him. His name is Nick, but the girls each know him as someone different. He played a part in all of their summers.

However. Ali doesn’t care about loyalty. To protect herself, she lets Nick take the fall, while escaping to her secret hideout.

15. Toxic

Ali is still out there, even if she has been quiet for a few weeks. While the girls want to be excited about graduation and summer, the threat of Ali makes it hard to relax. They know she isn’t done yet. Ali is ready to finish her game and no one is prepared for what’s going to happen next.

16. Vicious

The four liars have never felt so hopeless. It truly feels like Ali has won and there’s no stopping her. The four girls have been accused of murdering Alison DiLaurentis, who we all know is alive. Emily decides she has to take matters into her own hands and goes on a quest to find Ali alone, while the rest of the world thinks she drowned.

At the same time, Aria attempts to flee the country and Hanna gets married to Mike Montgomery, Aria’s younger brother, who promises to be there for Hanna no matter what.

Luckily, Emily is able to track down Ali, who is in disguise and was being hideen by her mother. The police arrive and arrest Ali, clearing their names in the process. The epilogue jumps ahead six months, where the reader gets to see all four of the girls living normal lives.

Companion Books

Ali’s Pretty Little Lies

Ali’s Pretty Little Lies follows Alison DiLaurentis’s life and reveals some of her biggest secrets. How did Ali turn into a monster? The reader gets the full backstory in this companion book, which talks about Ali’s ultimate goal and her family life.

Ali’s life has always been complex, but it’s darker and more twisted than we anticipated when we first read it. How did Ali become the villain of this series and why did she disappear? You’ll get all the answers.

Pretty Little Secrets: A Pretty Little Liars Collection

Pretty Little Secrets is a whirlwind feel-good book compared to the rest of the book series. It’s winter in Rosewood, Pennsylvania and each girl has a crazy holiday season.

Hanna’s Hanukkah isn’t off to the best start, Aria’s Winter Solstice leads her to Atlantic City, Emily’s Christmas plans cause her to get arrested because of her job as Santa Clause at the local mall and Spencer spends New Year’s Eve in Florida with her family, competing with her sister for a cute guy.

We love this hilarious and dramatic addition to one of our favorite series. Spoiler: One of the characters does something crazy and gets married…only for it to be null and void a day later.

Character Guide

Check out the character guide we included below with basic information about some of the most important characters in the book series. The reason we included this is because the characters look different than in the TV show.

Alison DiLaurentis

Appearance: Blonde hair, blue eyes, beautiful.

Book Covers: Ali’s Pretty Little Lies

Personality: Ali was the most popular girl at Rosewood Day until her sister Courtney pretended to be her. Since then, Ali has tried to get revenge on Courtney’s former friends. Ali is jealous, manipulative and made her entire life about getting revenge.

Aria Montgomery

Appearance: Tall, dark hair, light blue eyes, boho style.

Book Covers: Perfect, Wanted, Burned, Vicious

Personality: Aria is creative and artistic, which sometimes makes her feel out of place in Rosewood. After spending three years in Iceland, she’s sad to move back because she felt more accepted in Iceland.

Hanna Marin

Appearance: Colored auburn hair, brown eyes, stylish/fashion lover.

Book Covers: Flawless, Killer, Ruthless, Deadly

Personality: When Hanna was younger, she was teased for her appearance. Even after a total makeover, Hanna is insecure. However, the world sees her as fashionable, popular and glamorous.

Spencer Hastings

Appearance: Dark blonde hair, blue/green eyes, preppy style.

Book Covers: Pretty Little Liars, Wicked, Twisted, Crushed

Personality: Spencer likes to be perfect at everything. He whole life is about going to an elite school and competing with her older sister Melissa. However, Spencer does chill out as the series goes on.

Emily Fields

Appearance: Strawberry blonde hair, freckles, athletic.

Book Covers: Unbelievable, Heartless, Stunning, Toxic

Personality: Emily is the athletic girl, ready to get a full swimming scholarship to college, just like her siblings. Sadly, Emily can’t be herself at home and fears judgement from her strict and traditional parents. Emily is very kind and always wants to help people.

Mike Montgomery

Appearance: Tall, athletic, black hair, light blue eyes.

Book Covers: N/A

Personality: Mike is Aria’s younger brother and Hanna’s boyfriend through most of the series. He starts out as acting like a popular Rosewood guy, but he’s also super sweet and loyal.

Noel Kahn

Appearance: Tall, athletic, dark hair, light eyes.

Book Covers:

Personality: Noel is Aria’s boyfriend for a lot of the series and is friends with Mike. While he seems like a typical popular guy, he’s interested in Aria for her creativity. He’s had a crush on her for years.

Courtney DiLaurentis

Appearance: Blonde hair, blue eyes, beautiful, but Ali is seen as the prettier twin.

Book Covers: Ali’s Pretty Little Lies

Personality: Courtney is Alison’s twin, who Alison accused of being crazy. Courtney is the nicer of the two sisters and pretended to be mean so people would really think she was her sister.

23 thoughts on “The Complete Guide to the Pretty Little Liars Series by Sara Shepard”

  1. I love Pretty Little Liars! This is such a great, in depth guide to the series. It’s been so long since I read these books, I feel like I should reread them after this post! Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure I ever realized just how many books there are in this series! I think I read the first… 3? in like sophomore year of high school when the show premiered and everyone was losing their minds over it. But I never really got into it all that much. Maybe one day I’ll pick it up again just for kicks and giggles.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the show Pretty Little Liars but I haven’t read the books, but I am sure I will enjoy them as well. Thank you for sharing.

    Lauren – bournemouthgirl

    Liked by 1 person

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