Aria, Spencer, Emily, Hanna and Alison were an item- a group of friends who did everything together. Alison used to be the leader of the group - she was the one the other girls confined with, she was the one who knew secrets about all of them. When the amount of secrets started to get higher and higher, things got weird; it seemed that the girls were not able to talk freely, because all of them had something to hide. And then, one night, their sleepover ends suddenly when Alison disappears. Years later, Alison is still missing and the girls are no longer friends. Emily is part of the swimming team, a jock one could say. Everything seems great to the surface, but deep down she is very unsure about her feelings about herself; when Maya, a new girl, moves to the house Alison used to live in memories about what happened between herself and Alison rise to the surface. Is Alison the only one who knows about her true feelings?Spencer is trying her best to beat her older sister Melissa at something. Melissa has been the star of the family, and despite the fact Spencer works hard, it seems she will never be good enough. When Melissa introduces Wren, her gorgeous British med-student boyfriend for her family, Spencer get interested. And it seems Wren might also be interested about the wrong sister. The situation brings up memories and secrets - things she only shared with Alison.Everything about Hanna has changed since the disappearance of Alison. She used to be the chubby, badly dressed girl. Now she is popular, beautiful and wanted; she really wishes Alison could see her now. But she also has problems - she gets involved with the police and it seems that her boyfriend is not as interested about her as she is about him. And there is also something she has to hide about her sudden slimming down. And once again, Alison is the only one who knows her secret.After Alison disappeared, Aria and her family moved to Iceland (in the novel, people keep calling her 'Finland' when she comes back... :D). Now she is back in Rosewood; she has a new style and new way to live - she is more confident and knows what she wants. And after she meets Ezra Fitz in a bar, she knows he is what she wants - the little bump in the relationship is the fact that Ezra is her new English teacher. And Ezra is not the only thing she has to worry about; there is a secret that could break up her family. And of course Alison knows what it is.When the girls start to get messages from unknown number and email address, addressed by '-A', all the memories and fears come back to the surface - is Alison back? Are their secrets safe anymore? And then, something happens which changes everything. The girls have to make decisions and hope that their secrets are safe. Hanna could lose her reputation, Emily her boyfriend and the respect of her family, Spencer her new freedom and her sister and Aria her family and Ezra. And then there is the Jenna Thing that could destroy them all.I am a huge fan of the TV show; I have been one since I saw the first episode when the show premiered. I think it has gotten better and better as the story has developed. Now that I read the first novel of the series, I was familiar with the main events, but there were also new things in it. As I was reading, I was happy about the fact that the wealth and exclusivity of the girls and the town is not highlighted so much in the show; of course they all seem pretty wealthy, but it is not brought out so much as in the novel.I also liked the fact that the characters are not quite the same as in the novel. At parts I got frustrated with the superficial comments the girls had about themselves- especially Hanna. Of course, they all are pretty girls, but they should not be so sure about themselves all the time. From the show, I like Aria and Spencer the most, and I must say I had the same favorite characters while reading the novel. One thing I was quite surprised about was the fact that in the novel Wren seems a lot more dreamy than Ezra. I think that the fact that the relationship between Ezra and Aria is more emphasized in the show is because of the fact that at least, at the beginning, it felt like Aria is the main character of the show, the one the story builds around. And maybe the student-teacher relationship is more interesting to follow. One thing I liked about reading the novel after seeing the show was the fact that I was able to imagine the actors while reading - this was especially pleasant in the parts where Wren or Ezra was present. All in all, I really enjoyed the first installment in the Pretty Little Liars series and I am looking forward to reading the next one. If you are a fan of the show, give this a try if you have not already done so.