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PLL: Book Series Vs. TV Series

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This could use a better title, so feel free to suggest one!


This is the place to compare the book series to the TV show. Plots that were lifted straight from the books, plots that were inspired by the books, complete departures from the books... everything book-related goes here!


The spoiler prefix is just in case the show uses book plots in the future (for example, if they give Alison a twin). Please don't post untagged spoilers for future episodes of the show. Once an episode has aired on ABC Family, it's fair game (as are promos -- normal spoiler rules apply here).

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Lol, no responses so far. 


But I just read the ending of the long-to-come conclusion of the books at #16, Vicious.

Basically, Ali's framed the 4 girls for her murder, but she finally gets caught and thrown in a prison mental ward. Melissa is pregnant and seems to be closer to Spencer than before. Spencer's a legal aid and with Wren, but will be going to Princeton. Emily's in contact with her baby daughter who she gave up for adoption (I think she's bi in the books not gay.) and started dating some girl named Laura. She's done Hurley ads and is uncertain about her future. Hanna's going to FIT for fashion and has moved in with Mike Montgomery, who is her husband. She's also playing herself in the movie about their lives. Aria's at Parsons and painting, and I think is with Noel who's at Columbia on the lacrosse team. The twist ending: Ali knows that if she's a model patient eventually she'll be moved to a regular mental ward, with less security. And she knows how to work a regular mental ward...and she plans to come after the girls whenever she can pull off another escape.

Edited by AmandaPanda
fixing spoiler tags
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It isn't.  Episode 1 was essentially Book 1.  From then on, the show borrowed several elements of the books during season one but it soon became clear that the books and shows were pretty much going to be separate entities.  The end of the season two finale heavily paralleled the end of book 4 (though in the books Mona died then).  But again given that not only are the book series and tv series storylines different with different characters, but also everything after book 8 was written after the show started and Marlene King and Sara Shepard basically do their own thing without comparing notes.

Edited by dwmckim
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The show severely veered away from the books before Mona, namely when they let Toby live and made him Jenna's victim. That completely changed not just those 2 characters but also The Jenna Thing. I disliked that change because I felt that that it sacrificed more interesting characterization (including for Ali) just to have Toby around - and then pair him with Spencer. Considering the lows of the Spoby storylines, I still begrudge the show this.


None of the current love interests on the show are in the books (Ezra did date Aria, but he was thrown under the bus - not literally - in favor of other guys.) and Emily is not a lesbian.


The show still takes story elements from the books - most recently, the Emily/Ali hookup after Ali returns - but the characters are so different that it doesn't register as an equivalent.


One thing that strikes me is the show's obsession with twin-like figures (CeCe and Ali, Jenna and Sydney, actual twins, Bethany receiving the same presents and so on) instead of the more prosaic (though batshit) story line in the books: Ali has a twin and they switch, and they switch. There were hints at first, like easter eggs for the book readers, but now it's a cornucopia of twin-ness, and I wonder where the show wants to go with it.

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Is it just me or does anyone else have a tendency to envision the characters as South Park style cutouts when reading the books?  (Because there's so many references to "___'s mouth formed an O", "_____'s eyebrows knotted down in a V", "_______'s mouth made a rectangle as she cried", etc. 

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What I really noticed is that Emily in particular is often described as padding or scampering. Like is she the only PLL in the books who is not capable of just, you know, walking?


bamamer, I just finished reading the entire series in one fell swoop and I'd say if you have some time to kill over the holidays, you may as well give the books a try. You can probably skim the first book since it's the entire first episode of the series. The author also pads the later books by going over the events of the previous book (I guess that's just in case someone who has never read the previous books randomly picks up, say, book #8 and has no clue what any of the background is) which means once you start reading the series, there are sections you can skip when she starts reviewing what just happened in the last book.


I was surprised by just how much the books differed from the show. So many people get killed in the books! I think in one book, three different characters are murdered back to back. Although there are still some loose threads in the books, there aren't as many red herrings and convoluted plots as there are on the show, which is a change for the better. One thing that was mentioned totally out of the blue and then had no follow up whatsoever was that Aria married some guy from Iceland so he could stay in the country and then she had it annulled before her parents could find out. I was seriously like WTF, where did that come from? I thought it would come into play later but it was not mentioned again.


My first warning is that none of the books are numbered anywhere on the cover, the dust jacket, etc. so it can be confusing to figure out the order of the books. I ended up having use the wikipedia page and got spoiled about some of the events in the books, so as a public service here is a list of all the books in the series:


First arc:

1. Pretty Little Liars

2. Flawless

3. Perfect

4. Unbelievable


Second arc:

5. Wicked

6. Killer

7. Heartless

8. Wanted


Third arc:

9. Twisted

10. Ruthless

11. Stunning

12. Burned


Fourth arc:

13. Crushed

14. Deadly

15. Toxic

16. Vicious


There are also two companion novels. Pretty Little Secrets takes place between books 4 and 5. It's about Ali spying on Spencer, Hanna, Emily, and Aria over Christmas break. Ali's Pretty Little Lies is a prequel and takes place shortly before Ali is killed.


The series was supposed to end with the eighth book so there is a very big feeling of finality with that book. The last half of the series (books 9-16) is definitely weaker in many ways.




None of the current love interests on the show are in the books (Ezra did date Aria, but he was thrown under the bus - not literally - in favor of other guys.) and Emily is not a lesbian.

One of my all time favorite moments in the book is when Aria is in bed with Ezra and THE POLICE BUST IN and take him away in handcuffs. I swear, I put the book down and laughed for a good five minutes. Emily is bisexual in the books, but IIRC she only dates one guy

(and of course he manages to get her pregnant the ONE TIME that they have sex!)

and she is very conflicted and confused about her feelings for him because it's right after her parents accept her being gay. (ETA: Oops, I totally forgot about the guy she dated at the very beginning of the book series, some guy who was on the swim team with her whose name escapes me now)


Another big difference between the books and the show is that the book parents are almost all uniformly assholes from the beginning to the end of the book series. There are a few exceptions (Hanna's mom becomes supportive later in the series) but for the most part they suck.


In the books, Ali is the product of the affair between Mrs. DiLaurentis and Mr. Hastings (instead of Jason). I'm still undecided about how I feel about that change, but since Jason isn't around very much in the books I guess it didn't bother me that much.


I thought the ending for book #16 was satisfying but not great. It probably would have been better if the series had ended with book 8 because after that the books started getting almost as wacked out as the show.


One thing that totally cracked me up about book #16 was Aria.

She was so terrible at being on the run. Has this girl never seen a movie or tv show about fugitives on the lam? Wait, of course not, because she is artistic and special and wouldn't watch tv! I've never been on the run from the police but it's just common sense that you don't check into a hotel, even if it's a youth hostel, using your real name and you cover your face/change your appearance by wearing a wig, sunglasses, and hat when you are in public. Even after Noel gave her a wig, she didn't bother to put it on until after yet another person looked at her suspiciously the next day.

Edited by ElectricBoogaloo
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I stopped after Wanted. The books are not good (ok, they are decent for the YA they are, I suppose) and books 9+ felt like that cash grab sequel that has no real footing (I probably won't be watching Terminator Genisys either.)




Another big difference between the books and the show is that the book parents are almost all uniformly assholes from the beginning to the end of the book series.

Damn the fact that the TwoP forum archives are gone. I remember writing a lot about this during PLL season 1, but now I completely forgot the details.


I think the books vs TV difference is best illustrated for someone who hasn't read the books by the early version of Spencer's family when the show still followed the books (the feeling that the parents favor Melissa, Spencer's bitterness and coming onto Melissa's boyfriends for little reason other than that they are hers, everyone telling her to stfu about Ian, disapproving of Alex because of their difference in status - when they now accept high school dropout Toby The Carpenter etc) vs the current, much more family-friendly one.


Also, IIRC, it's not just the parents that are awful, but also the Liars have a different relationship: less actual friends, more old friends united by A's attack on them. This way, each Liar is far more isolated than they are on the TV show. They are also less likeable/sympathetic people, especially Spencer, and with a heavier baggage - some of which is probably due to the difference between tackling issues in a book, with access to a character's thoughts, and showing them on screen (I remember thinking Hanna's bulimia was glossed over on the show, at the time.)

Edited by Crim
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Very much the show.  It would be a bit harder to do a book given that such homages are very much visual as well as thematic.  The showrunners have a love of Hitchcock and they've added that to the mix.

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