*This review will contain spoilers!*
If you haven't read my last review, for 'Stunning' (Book #11) you should probably go and read that because it leads nicely into this one.
In other words - everything that I thought was going to happen in this novel happened, making it painfully predictable in a way that led to me wanting to pull my own hair out from sheer irritation.
This novel tells us the story of Hanna, Emily, Aria and Spencer, who are taking an Eco Cruise with their school - part school holiday, part learning experience informing them all about the islands that their cruise tours and sustainability. Hanna is rooming with Naomi Zeigler, the popular girl she's had a rivalry with for years, Emily meets a random girl on the boat and falls deeply deeply in love, Aria decides to take part in a scavenger hunt and gets paired up with mystery man Graham, and Spencer furthers her relationship with Reefer, encountering difficulties when it turns out Naomi has a crush on him too.
When I finished reading 'Stunning', I predicted that this novel was going to deal with the Eco Cruise, Spencer and Reefer's relationship and Hanna's hit and run accident, all of which got dealt with and nicely wrapped up (well, apart from Spencer and Reefer who are still together, but knowing the 'Pretty Little Liars' books that isn't going to last much longer). I generally like reading books without knowing what's going to happen in them, so the fact that the little epilogue written by A always tells you what to expect in the next novel is disappointing. However, at the end of 'Burned' it does refer to Hanna and Aria's "incident" in Iceland, which is probably the only reason I'm going to pick up the next novel - I hate leaving things unresolved, especially when I'm this far into a series and there are only four left to wade through.
If you're going to read this book, you need to have an extremely strong (and I mean, strongman strong) belief in coincidences, because the amount of stuff that just coincidentally occurs is beyond irritating. I can believe in one or two odd happenings, but when the entire book is based off of them it takes away any semblance of realism that was remaining in this series, making it beyond ludicrous. The fact that Naomi was Madison the car crash victims cousin could have been believable by itself, because of the fact that Madison lived near by and everyone has family. But when Aria just happens to get paired up with Graham, who turns out to be the ex-boyfriend of Tabitha, the girl they killed in Jamaica, and then Noel just happens to find Tabitha's locket necklace on the beach is just a bit too far-fetched for me to subscribe to. Furthermore, both of those revelations were beyond obvious - Graham was mentioned in 'Stunning' and if Aria had been following the case about Tabitha that closely she would not have forgotten her ex-boyfriends name, and then the fact that the necklace had a letter that looked like an 'I' or a 'J' made it supremely blatant that it was going to be Tabitha's locket that Noel had discovered. And the entire thing with Emily dating a serial thief who she just happened to bump into on the first morning, and who then - out of thousands of cabins - chose to stowaway in Emily's cupboard? Yeah, that's definitely plausible, definitely a high chance of that happening.
In all honesty, nothing in this book was that good. Hanna starting to be friends with Naomi just to end up ruining it all was obviously going to happen, because whenever the girls get close to other people it always goes wrong and you really would think that they'd have learnt that by now. Emily considering running off to Thailand with a girl she'd known for less than a week made me put my head in my hands from sheer annoyance, while Spencer and Reefer's relationship was cute at the beginning but quickly became annoying (I mean she was up puking all night and then they started passionately making out? Oh wow, that's super hygienic). Aria has always been my favourite character, which is probably the only reason I'm still managing to slightly enjoy her chapters, but before the revelation that they hadn't killed Tabitha in Jamaica all I found myself doing was rooting for the police, desperately hoping that the Pretty Little Liars would get caught once and for all.
It's utterly obvious to me that Real Ali is going to return, whether in the next book or the next couple, because of Emily leaving the door open for her to escape after she tried to murder them in the Poconos, but I just sincerely hope that the last couple of books are good, because if the climax to the series is as terrible as the last few books have been it's going to be a sad ending to something that had so much potential at the start. If a successful ending means the death of one of the four main girls I don't really mind, because I just think Sara Shepard needs to pull out all of the stops to get this train back on the tracks.