Must-read YA thrillers for fans of Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists

New Lies. New Liars.


It’s been almost two years since the dramatic conclusion to Pretty Little Liars shocked viewers around the world. For some, seven years of secrets, lies, fear and having their minds well and truly messed with just wasn’t enough and apparently the show’s developer, I. Marlene King, felt the same way. While we probably shouldn’t expect to see Spencer, Aria, Hanna or Emily anytime soon, PLL fans can rejoice over King’s new Pretty Little Liars spinoff show, PLL: The Perfectionists, which is based on The Perfectionists duology by Pretty Little Liars author, Sara Shepard.

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The original novel follows five high-schoolers who, upon realising their shared hatred for a boy, design a murder plot to take revenge. Despite having zero intention to go through with this plan (because apparently planning a murder is a totally chill thing to do for fun?) the teens find themselves as key suspects in an investigation after the discovery of a murdered boy (take a guess as to who that boy was and how he died…) Although PLL: The Perfectionists takes inspiration from the book series, King has said “The books have a twist in them that would be kind of impossible to pull off on a TV show,” and therefore will stray from the original plot earlier than PLL did. The show also follows a slightly different cast of characters than the book and is set during their college years, rather than high school.

It does, however, share a few similarities with the original show, including Janel Parrish and Sasha Pieterse’s return as Mona Vanderwaal and Alison DiLaurentis and the opening theme being a new, equally creepy cover of the original Pretty Little Liars theme song.

With that being said, if you’re already hooked on The Perfectionists and are in need of a something to keep you going until the next episode, here are a few equally gripping, heart-pounding and intense reads you’re definitely going to want to check out.

Sawkillgirls by Claire Legrand

Why? Think PLL, if -A been a supernatural being. It’s creepy, dark, utterly addictive, with the main characters including a fat bisexual girl, a black asexual girl and featuring an f/f relationship.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.
Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.
Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires. Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Why? It ingrains itself into your brain, leaving you unable to forget it in the best way possible.

It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off on a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations.

As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

As she awaits the judge’s decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine…

Sadie by Courtney Summers

Why? With murder, a true crime ‘Serial’ like podcast and sibling vengeance, it’s got everything you need for a gripping read from start to finish. The audiobook is wonderful too!

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

Why? Picture a cutesy contemporary romance with gory murders and this book is what you’ll find. It’s fun, fast-paced, gruesome and perfect for fans of slasher horror.

Love hurts…

Makani Young thought she’d left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She’s found new friends and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larsson. But her past isn’t far behind.

Then, one by one, the students of Osborne Hugh begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and her feelings for Ollie intensify, Makani is forced to confront her own dark secrets.

Spin by Lamar Giles

Why? It explores fame, fandoms, the dark web, friendship and social justice in a way that’ll have you turning page after page in anticipation.

Sixteen-year-old Paris Secord’s (aka DJ ParSec) career–and life–has come to an untimely end, and the local music scene is reeling. No one is feeling the pain more than her shunned pre-fame best friend, Kya, and Paris’s chief groupie, Fuse. But suspicion trumps grief, and since each suspects the other of Paris’s murder, they’re locked in a high-stakes game of public accusations and sabotage.

Everyone in the ParSec Nation (DJ ParSec’s local media base)–including the killer–is content to watch it play out, until Kya and Fuse discover a secret: Paris was on the verge of major deal that would’ve catapulted her to superstar status on a national level, leaving her old life (and old friends) behind. With the new info comes new motives. New suspects. And a fandom that shows its deadly side. As Kya and Fuse come closer to the twisted truth, the killer’s no longer amused. But murdering Paris was simple enough, so getting rid of her nobody-friends shouldn’t be an issue…

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian

Why? Because a book co-written by the author of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, that follows three secret keeping, revenge seeking, girls living in a seemingly picture-perfect town where things aren’t quite so perfect after all, is a book all PLL fans need in their lives.

Postcard-perfect Jar Island is home to charming tourist shops, pristine beaches, amazing oceanfront homes—and three girls secretly plotting revenge.

KAT is sick and tired of being bullied by her former best friend.

LILLIA has always looked out for her little sister, so when she discovers that one of her guy friends has been secretly hooking up with her, she’s going to put a stop to it.

MARY is perpetually haunted by a traumatic event from years past, and the boy who’s responsible has yet to get what’s coming to him.

None of the girls can act on their revenge fantasies alone without being suspected. But together…anything is possible.

With an alliance in place, there will be no more “I wish I’d said…” or “If I could go back and do things differently…” These girls will show Jar Island that revenge is a dish best enjoyed together.

People Like Us by Dana Mele

Why? Boarding school murders, revenge blogs and computer coded scavenger hunts. This book has them all and more.

Kay Donovan may have skeletons in her closet, but the past is past, and she’s reinvented herself entirely. Now she’s a star soccer player whose group of gorgeous friends run their private school with effortless popularity and acerbic wit. But when a girl’s body is found in the lake, Kay’s carefully constructed life begins to topple.

The dead girl has left Kay a computer-coded scavenger hunt, which, as it unravels, begins to implicate suspect after suspect, until Kay herself is in the crosshairs of a murder investigation. But if Kay’s finally backed into a corner, she’ll do what it takes to survive. Because at Bates Academy, the truth is something you make…not something that happened.

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Why? It’s devastating, dark, intense and superbly written. It’ll spark a continuous stream of questions about not only the plot but society and the world we live in.

Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

Why: If a feminist paranormal contemporary, led by a fat black latina and featuring fierce female friendships, witchcraft and the undead sounds like your kinda thing, you’re going to want to check this one out asap.

Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There’s not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley’s favourite activity: amateur witchcraft.

So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again.

The Perfectionists duology by Sara Shepard

Why? Because what kind of recommendations list for books with PLL: Perfectionists vibes would this be without the book that inspired the show itself?

Ava, Caitlin, Mackenzie, Julie, and Parker are all driven to be perfect—no matter the cost.

At first, the girls think they have nothing in common until they discover that they all hate the same person: handsome womanizer Nolan Hotchkiss, who’s done things to hurt each of them.

They come up with the perfect plan to murder Nolan—jokingly, of course. They’d never actually go through with it. But when Nolan turns up dead in the exact way they’d discussed, the girls suddenly become prime suspects in his murder.

Only, they didn’t do it.

So who did? Unless they find the real killer, and soon, any one of them may be the next to die….

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