I know what you might be thinking - how can you review two major series in one post? It will go on forever!
Because these series are almost identical in the basics - ridiculous behavior from high school students, brand-name dropping left and right, notes at the end of each book from a mysterious source, and tons of melodrama.
The only thing that REALLY makes PLL different is the murders.
I read through these in the last two weeks or so because I was incredibly behind on my Goodreads Challenge, and my daughter's surgery was coming up so I knew I would fall even further behind. I sped read through them, because lets be honest - these two series do not take a lot of brain cells. And much like the Baby-Sitters Club when I was young, you could always skip a few pages at the beginning of each when they rehash what happened in previous books. Now, I am happily 9 books ahead and can take a breather to do my second favorite thing after reading books: reviewing them.
I don't say the things I've said to knock the books (at least, not the first few books of PLL, but I'll get to that in a bit). They serve their intended purpose beautifully. I can definitely understand why teens would read them and I certainly would have read them when I was in high school if they'd have come out then. Alas, the first GG book didn't come out until 2002, the year after I graduated. The first PLL followed in 2006, the year after I graduated from college the first time.
It is hard to decide which series is better. Not because they're not comparable, but because PLL is like three different series in and of itself. The first four books of PLL were supposed to be it for the series, I believe. The murder was neatly solved, the murderer apprehended, the end. Yet, the final count in the series is a whopping SIXTEEN.
My guess? The show was so successful, the author knew she could keep making money, and heaps of it, but continuing the series as far as she could take it - because even if the plot of the shows differed from the books, her audience would still fork over their hard-earned baby-sitting money for it. And she was right. My biggest issue with PLL is how stupidly insane it got by the end. Stupid decision after stupid decision by these four morons, it's like they WANTED A (that would be First A, Real A, New A, Helper A. FFS. Seriously. When yu have to differentiate your villains like that, YOU'VE GONE TOO FAR!) to have enough dirt on them so they could not go to he police. Book 4 should have been the end. Even when it went on to book 8, I'd say that was decent. But everything from book 9 on is utter shit. Absolute stupid garbage that makes no sense and no one can really believe. If you are going to read these, stop at either of those points, book 4, or book 8 if you really must. You will be much happier than if you read all the way through 16.
At times it felt like PLL wanted to be GG, but with murder. There was this attempt at dropping the names of certain brands, but no where on the same level of GG. I mean, that was beyond compare. I should have made a list of every time the author told me who was wearing what and who made it. I easily could have fill an entire notebook. I get it, we have t know just how rich these people are - as if the summer homes and cars and colleges don't tell us already, but come on. it was about as annoying as every time a new killer popped up in PLL. Also, as PLL went on, each book would end with a note from A. This was very GG-esque, as GG always ended with a note about what happened and what was coming. PLL started to do that with A being snarky and giving a tiny glimpse of what was to come.
I have not watched either tv show related to the books, and I can't say that I am terribly interested in doing so. I gather that they're wildly different from the books they are based on, so perhaps I'd like the shows more. I typically find that books are able to offer more depth than movies or tv shows, but the opposite might be true in these cases - especially PLL. They're seriously the dumbest four girl I have ever read about in my entire life. I also constantly mixed up Spencer and Aria because they were all so stupidly similar. And what is with the girls all having awful families who were terrible to them?
In the end, I an't say I recommend either series whole-heartedly. I secretly love Gossip Girl, which you might not be able to tell from this review, partly because we never find out who GG is. I know there were spin-offs to the series but don't plan on reading them. First, because they will be exactly like this series, but with different characters and the same "problems". Secondly, the spin-off revolving around Jenny would absolutely bore me to tears. I could not stand her.
So, these are great fluff reads for a rainy day when you find yourself far behind in a reading challenge, like I did. They're also great to kind of clear your mind and recharge, also like I need to do once in a while. I tend to only read non-fiction and sometimes my brain needs a break from reading more academic books. These are certainly the opposite of academic. They still have their place though, and it is okay to slum it with books like these when your brain needs time to rest.