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14 Thrilling High-Drama Books Like Pretty Little Liars

If you’re gonna be a liar, at least be a pretty one.

Spencer, Aria, Hannah, Emily, and Ali carrying a casket
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  • Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Coming from someone who used to host literal watch parties on Tuesday nights when new Pretty Little Liars episodes would air, I’m no stranger to the plethora of unlikely goings-on that occurred: the unlikely plot twists, unlikely romances (I’m looking at you, Ezra and Aria…and every man Emily ever dated…and every boyfriend Spencer stole from her sister…well gee, there’s a never-ending list for you.) of course, the unlikely and quite frankly ghastly outfits that were roaming the halls of Rosewood High.

However unlikely everything always seemed, one thing was for certain: these girls were super sleuths. And they did it in wicked high heels. 

But as any PLL fan knows, the book series was an entirely different breed from its TV counterpart. In fact, the two are starkly different in almost every way, especially in terms of character building and character involvement.

For example, the families of each liar have much more character development in the books, making things much more entertaining and realistic. We also know certain characters break up more quickly in the books, and even the liars themselves have more fluff.

The book series is less about Ali, and more about Emily, Hannah, Spencer, and Aria; so we learn much more about them, like how they’re really not all that likable—at least in the beginning. 

But perhaps the most important thing to note is that the mysteries are much more fleshed out in the book series, and therefore make for an incredibly captivating read. You could even argue that it could be considered a horror series.

A cult classic of sorts for teenagers everywhere, we wouldn’t be surprised if you finished the series rather quickly—so we’ve curated a list of other books like Pretty Little Liars to take its place when the inevitable post-series-finishing-depression kicks in and you need to replace it with a new mystery.

Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars

By Sara Shepard

Books to Read if You Love Pretty Little Liars

All Eyes on Us

All Eyes on Us

By Kit Frick

Readers get a little bit of that PLL ambiance in the text discourse between the villain and the collateral damage in Kit Frick's All Eyes on Us. Carter Shaw is his small town's golden boy: kind, ambitious, and the heir to some serious real estate. His girlfriend is Amanda Kelly…and also Rosalie Bell, unbeknownst to Amanda. 

Amanda, the daughter of some small-town clout chasers would do anything for Carter. Rosalie on the other hand, has a hard time dating him; in fact, she's only using him as a cover so she can continue to see her girlfriend without her Christian fundamentalist parents finding out and forcing her into more conversion “therapy.” 

But an anonymous source knows everything, and in an attempt to destroy Carter's life, ends up threatening Amanda's and Rosalie's. They'll have to become unlikely allies if they want to discover their stalker's identity before their lives are completely ruined. 

Shade Me

Shade Me

By Jennifer Brown

Nikki Kill, known loner, was born with rare synesthesia; to her, happiness is pink, sadness is a combination of green and brown, and lies are gray. 

Peyton Hollis is Nikki's school's queen bee—super rich and even more untouchable. But then one day, Peyton is brutally attacked, and the only phone number the hospital can find in her phone is Nikki's. 

Suddenly roped into Peyton's glittering, it-girl world, Nikki struggles to get closer to the dark truth behind the whole conspiracy; though Peyton's gorgeous older brother helps. The only thing she's sure of though, is that death is a deep, pulsing crimson. 



By Alyson Noel

The Unrivaled Nightclub is hosting a competition that could change the winner's life forever. Wannabe reporter Layla, aspiring actress Aster, and ambitious musician Tommy are all in it to win it; but they never thought they'd have to rely on working together to clear their names from a dangerous scandal. 

Somehow, the three of them got caught up in the media nightmare that is mega starlet Madison Brooks' disappearance. Teaming up with an unexpected insider to clear their names, they'll quickly discover that some secrets are better kept quiet. 

Tiny Pretty Things

Tiny Pretty Things

By Sona Charaipotra, Dhonielle Clayton

Tiny Pretty Things explores the experience of the three top ballet students at an exclusive Manhattan dance school: Gigi, Bette, and June. Gigi is a happy-go-lucky new girl who simply wants to dance, even though the act might kill her.

Entitled Bette is no stranger to the drama of New York ballet, but she'd do anything to escape from dancing in her sister's shadow, no matter how dangerous. And perfectionist June has learned her perfectionist ways from her mother; a mother who will never let her dance again if June doesn't land a lead role this year.

Every dancer has two faces: friend and foethough both are pretty.  But the sacrifices, manipulation, and betrayal they're about to face aren't nearly as pretty as they are.

The Lying Game

The Lying Game

By Sara Shepard

Another book series by Sara Shepard, The Lying Game series has a similar ambiance to her Pretty Little Liars series, although The Lying Game is more of a true murder mystery and less horror.

In it, we meet Sutton and Emma, identical twins who have just found out about the other’s existence. Sutton led a lavish, wealthy lifestyle that anyone would kill for. And then someone did. 

In desperation to figure out what happened to Sutton, Emma takes Sutton’s place in her life in a twin-switch situation. But does Emma have what it takes to bond with her new friends, family, and boyfriend while pretending to be her sister, especially knowing that the killer is watching her every move? 

The Amateurs

The Amateurs

By Sara Shepard

Another Sara Shepherd series, The Amateurs is also similar to the Pretty Little Liars series, though in a different way. Heavy on the super sleuthing, The Amateurs introduces us to 18-year-old Seneca Frazier, who is part of an online message board called Case Not Closed.

Five years ago, a girl named Helena Kelly disappeared without a trace, leaving her family with so many questions, the chief ones being who killed Helena and why. Helena’s case is the reason Seneca is into true crime in the first place. 

So when she sees a post from Helena’s sister on the message board asking for help with her case, Seneca knows she’s destined to help. She agrees to travel to Helena’s hometown in Connecticut for her spring break to work on the case with Maddy Wright, Seneca’s best friend from Case Not Closed, and Brett, another frequent Case Not Closed user. 

But Maddy is nothing like Seneca expected, and it turns out Helena’s sister doesn’t want to help with the case after all. All of this on top of the potentially destructive secret that Seneca’s harboring makes for a difficult case. Nevertheless, they begin to unravel Helena’s secrets.

But the killer is watching…and they’re just as determined to keep the case cold as the team is to uncover it. 

Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl

By Cecily von Ziegesar

Another book series that developed into a sensational TV drama, fans of Pretty Little Liars are sure to love the Gossip Girl series.

A 14-book series, Gossip Girl is narrated by the person in charge of running the gossip site that keeps track of all of Manhattan’s elite Upper East Side teenage socialites.

Teeming with juicy (and destructive) gossip, Gossip Girl takes on the Pretty Little Liars vibe by focusing on the teenage high school experience, using drama as a catalyst for crime, and the seemingly unlikely escalation of most of this drama into real crime. 



By Kate Brian

This 16-book series will keep you busy for a long time after finishing the Pretty Little Liars series. If Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars had a baby, it would be Kate Brian’s Private series.

In it, we’re introduced to Reed Brennan, whose scholarship to Easton Academy is finally taking her away from the drug-infested suburban hellscape of her current life is her ticket to happiness. 

Though she’s been accepted to Easton, she still feels like an outsider. Until she meets the Billings girls, that is; the most intelligent, confident, and beautiful girls on campus. And Reed will do whatever it takes to be accepted into their clique.

But they’ll do anything to keep their secrets, secret. 

Little White Lies

Little White Lies

By Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Another Gossip Girl meets Pretty Little Liars series, Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ Debutantes series is the story of 18-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft, who never thought she would accept her grandmother’s contract to participate in debutante season, but yet, did.

It wasn’t the six-figure check that she wanted, though it was an added bonus. It was the opportunity to figure out who her father is. And she’d deal with the catty girls, makeovers, and powerful families to get it. 

Much to everyone’s surprise, Sawyer actually makes some friends. And it’s through them that she discovers that her family isn’t the only one with secrets; and no one wants Sawyer poking around in the past, even if the only secrets she cares about are her own.

Through the information she gains from her new friends and their powerful parents, she discovers that the truth about her own family’s origins are only part of the equation.

Five Survive

Five Survive

By Holly Jackson

Holly Jackson, an author who PLL fans are likely to enjoy, came out with an atmospheric crime thriller Five Survive about six friends on a RV trip heading to the beach for Spring Break.

But when the RV breaks down in the middle of nowhere, without phone reception, the friends quickly begin to realize that they’re being specifically targeted as the wheels are shot out. 

The sniper in the dark not only knows exactly who they are, but also knows the secret one of them is harboring; and they’re willing to kill for it. This claustrophobic thriller forces buried secrets into the light and a killer game of cat-and-mouse as the friends try to figure out which one is the target. 

black book cover w white text and red blood splatter

Five Little Liars

By Amanda K Morgan

Five Little Liars follows five teens who must cover up the suspicious death of their teacher over summer vacation.

Readers are introduced to Ivy, who has the chance to regain the Queen Bee status her ex took from her; Tyler, the known bad boy who could lose everything; Kinley, a perfectionist who would do anything to retain her perfection; Mattie, in town only for the summer and who got wrapped up in this mess by accident; and Cade, who couldn’t care less about the murder or the secret pact—he knows that the only way to be innocent is to make sure someone else is found guilty.

He just needs to pick who’s going to take the fall. Can they find trust in each other before the police find the culprit?

The Girl in Apartment 9

The Girl in Apartment 9

By A.J. Rivers

Heavy on the mystery aspect, The Girl in Apartment 9 involves a young woman’s disappearance similar to PLL.

Sydney Parker has gone missing from her apartment in a nearby college, and FBI Agent Emma Griffin has been asked to take on the case.

Sydney was a great student, a good daughter, and a champion for mental health awareness; so what could have made her disappear? Did she leave or was she taken? And does it connect to the excess of bodies piling up on campus? 

Nothing More to Tell

Nothing More to Tell

By Karen M. McManus

Four years ago, Brynn’s favorite teacher at Saint Ambrose School was found murdered in the woods by three students. Though the case was never solved, Brynn is hoping to figure out what really happened with the help of her true-crime show internship. 

Her ex-best friend Tripp Talbot was one of the students who found the body, and he’s her key to the answer. Without Tripp’s version of events, the other two kids would have gone to jail–but instead, they’re at the top of the social hierarchy. That’s because everything Tripp told the police was a lie—and all three of them know it. 

Brynn’s investigation in Nothing More to Tell uncovers some secrets that could change the fate of the school, Mr. Larkin, and Tripp. 

Monsters book cover with fancy cake with the book title "monsters" on it


By Emerald Fennell

Real PLL fans know that Sasha Pieterse was only 12 years old when she filmed her part as Alison DiLaurentis in the pilot episode.

From the film director of Saltburn comes Emerald Fennell’s Monsters, a dark tale about two other 12-year-olds that you never want to meet. In the Cornish seaside town of Fowey, a woman was murdered. 

While most people are horrified, a little 12-year-old girl is not. In fact, she’s delighted with the entertainment, and begins hosting her own investigation. Then a 12-year-old boy shows up, and much to the girl’s continued delight, also has the same macabre interests.

They began investigating together. And then playing games that re-enact the murder together. All in good fun, of course…