Special Review, ya contemporary

Book Review: Pretenders By Lisi Harrison


I obtained a ebook copy through NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

Goodreads Summary:

Three girls, two guys, five secret journals.

The five most popular students at Noble High have secrets to hide; secrets they wrote down in their journals. Now one of their own exposes the private entries…

I am leaking these because I’m tired and I know you are too. The success bar is too high and pretending has become the only way to reach it. Instagrams are filtered, Facebook profiles are embellished, photos are shopped, reality TV is scripted, body parts get upgraded like software, and even professional athletes are cheating. The things we believe in aren’t real.

We are pretenders.


The summary of the book got to me. I love those exposure type stories. When I saw the book was diary-style, I was even more excited because we don’t see a lot of those in YA. After I started reading the book, I was sadly… disappointed.

All five characters in the novel think like seventh graders and not freshman in high school. If all five students were a part of the Phoenix Five, they should have been smarter, different. I think back to when I was a freshman and I thought differently, or it could just be that students nowadays are going backwards instead of forwards. That honestly is a very scary thought.

Since this book was character-oriented let’s focus on them. Some characters I felt bad for, while others I just didn’t care for. Finding out at the end of the novel that this will be a series was another turn off. The story built up and we never got a resolution, all we got was a “keep reading to find out.”

I’ve read other work by Lisi Harrison like The Clique series and her middle schoolers in that series are smarter than these freshman. This book had so much potential. At least it kept my attention until the end. That’s saying something.

Overall, Pretenders could have been something big. It could have been the next Pretty Little Liars. It had potential to get a TV show made out of it. One thing I did love is that the writing went with each character. The way each journal entry was written, the grammar, the style, it all matched the character. I applaud Ms. Harrison for that. Thank you for giving each character a distinct voice.

Rating: 2.5/5

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