Title: The Amateurs by Sara Shepard
Genre: Young Adult Mystery
Everyone’s dying to know the truth . . .
When Aerin Kelly was eleven, she idolised her seventeen-year-old sister, Helena, and they did everything together. They made Claymation movies and posted them to YouTube. They made fun of Windmere-Carruthers, the private school they attended, they invented new flavours for their parents’ organic ice cream shop, and they dressed up their golden retriever, Buster. But when Helena went into senior year things started to change. Rather than being Aerin’s inseparable sister, she started to push her away. Then, on a snowy winter’s day, Helena vanished.
Four years later, Helena’s body is found. Wracked with grief and refusing to give up on her sister, Aerin spends months trying to figure out what exactly happened to Helena and who killed her. But the police have no leads. A young, familiar officer named Thomas wants to help and suggests she checks out a website called Case Not Closed. Hesitantly, she posts, and when teenagers Seneca and Maddox show up on her doorstep offering to help investigate she accepts in desperation. Both have suffered their own losses and also posted to the site with no luck, so they are hoping this case might be the one they crack. But as their investigation begins, it seems that maybe it’s no accident that they are all together, and that maybe the crimes have something – or someone – in common.
The Amateurs by Sara Shepard is my second experience with a Young Adult Mystery. I love mysteries and thrillers such as Paula Hawkins The Girl on the Train so I’m always interested in seeing that in a Young Adult setting. This was also my first experience with Sara Shepard as an author, if you don’t know Sara is the author of the widely popular series Pretty Little Liars. I loved Pretty Little Liars the TV Show so I was excited to give this new world of hers a try.
The Amateur’s seems like a book that is loved or hated based on the reviews I have seen on goodreads, for me? I really enjoyed it. I can see why fans of Pretty Little Liars feel like it gives them a sense of nostalgia now that I think about it. But for me, it’s been a while since I last watched PLL so I went in with a fresh mind and didn’t draw comparisons when I went through. I was focused on this story on its own which I’m happy about.
In terms of plot, I found this story so interesting. The idea of teenagers coming together from a website titled Case Not Closed was one I thought was so unique. I mean teens solving murders? Surely not? But they each had a special skill set and they complimented each other so well that they were able to find answers. One thing which I found funny was how Seneca believed she was messaging a girl named Maddy… Who turned out to be Maddox a boy.
As a whole though the plot was as interesting as any Adult Mysteries for me, I was hooked from beginning to end and I found myself so enthralled in learning who would have wanted to kill Helena. Not only this but the lives of the teens are also threatened when someone attempts to burn down the room in which Seneca is staying which adds even more tension and mystery. Clearly someone doesn’t want these teens investigating.
What is great about this book is how it slowly unravels, as a reader we are really taken on a journey with these teens attempting to find clues as to what happened to Helena and boy is there shocks along the way. The story is perfectly paced and developed for me and it wasn’t rushed which was something I loved. I liked how the time was given to really go through each tense moment to unravel the next clue and I was questioning a bunch of characters by the end of it.
Speaking of the ending? THE ENDING OF THIS IS INSANE.
I did not see it coming at all and I was blown away. Frankly it took such a turn for me and linked so many other details from the teens that it darkened the story even more. Of course with this level of tension, the story ended on a cliffhanger to keep me hanging onto the edge of my seat even more.
Frankly what hasn’t this story got? Attempted murders, affairs, drugs and more secrets in between.
In terms of characters, I was surprised by how much I ended up liking all of the teens together but my favourites had to be Maddox and Seneca. Of course there were moments where you thought, ugh stop being a mard but if I’m honest I was just like that as a teenager so it fit just right. In terms of Maddox and Seneca though you could really sense the tension between the two and a developing romance of sorts.
Aerin was an interesting character herself, she is definitely described as being an IT girl and boy does she know it. She’s popular, beautiful and stylish. But she also has another layer to her which you can see she is hiding, that layer is her hurt for her dead sister. I expected not to like Aerin but she really grew on me as the book developed because she was more than the IT girl image she put out.
The Amateurs was a 4 star read for me. I really enjoyed my reading experience and I ended up ordering Book 2 immediately so I could find out what happened following the cliffhanger. I would definitely recommend giving this book a whirl, perhaps if you are a fan of Pretty Little Liars you might want to wait until you can go into this book with a fresh mind so you don’t try to draw comparisons.
Ultimately this is a steady paced read which is easy to get into and you can lose yourself in the plot.