ARC Review · books

Book Review: The Amateurs


The Amateurs
by Sara Shepard
Rating:★★★★ 1/2

“As soon as Seneca Frazier sees the post on the Case Not Closed website about Helena Kelly, she’s hooked. Helena’s high-profile disappearance five years earlier is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place. So when Maddy Wright, her best friend from the CNC site, invites Seneca to spend spring break in Connecticut looking into the cold case, she immediately packs her bag. But the moment she steps off the train in trendy, glamorous Dexby, things begin to go wrong. Maddy is nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin Kelly, seems totally uninterested in helping with their murder investigation.

But when Brett, another super user from the site, joins Seneca and Maddy in Dexby, Aerin starts to come around. The police must have missed something, and someone in Dexby has information they’ve been keeping quiet. As they begin to unravel dark secrets and shocking betrayals about the people closest to them, they seem to be on the murderer’s trail at last. But somewhere nearby the killer is watching, ready to do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.”

Sara Shepard is well known for her Pretty Little Liars series and the rest of her books all seem to take on the same sort of feel of Pretty Little Liars, even if you’re just judging from the cover, so I thought The Amateurs would be much of the same. When I read the first chapter and Helena went missing I wondered if she would show up alive a few years later like Alison did and I wondered if I would be interested in this story. From the start of the book, I felt no connection to Aerin or Helena but it became so much better than that first initial judgement when the other characters came into the mix and the story progressed.

When the Case Not Closed website and the group of posters came into the story I was so excited. It’s so awesome that these people online are solving these cases that police couldn’t and bringing closure to people affected by it but it also sounded pretty damn cool. Some of the posters are just normal people wanting to help (or a little obsessed with it) but some of them actually have backgrounds in the police department or forensics, but we didn’t meet any of those characters in person in this story so hopefully, they make an appearance in the second book. I definitely wouldn’t want to bring myself into that dark online world like that but I loved reading about it.

It definitely did have a little bit of a lull midway through the book but I don’t think it was too long like a lot of other books. I enjoy reading smaller books that don’t have to go on and on to get to the same point. The Amateurs was fast-paced and filled with action and surprise. The last 10% of this book was such a wild ride. Oh my god, guys! This book went from an undecided rating to a four and a half star rating when I read those last few chapters. The world around me vanished and it was just my eyes glued to the pages as another blow came to the group and the readers.

I really enjoyed The Amateurs (Thanks, Disney Book Group!) and it will be released on the 1st of November so borrow or buy if you’re interested in a thrilling book!

Favourite Quotes…

“Stop, or I’m going to kill you.”

“You people are total amateurs.”

*Spoilers Below*

Aerin lost her sister at a young age so she’s dealing with it the only way she knows how by taking her clothes off. I think it’s a bit silly that she uses boys and kissing but it’s the way she gets by and everyone has something they need in their life to help them. It still didn’t help me to make much of a connection to her. I did feel bad for her when she put her case out there and people dismissed it as impossible to solve. I don’t think she was ever really my favourite character or in the top three throughout the book, because she just seemed so shallow but I did respect her confidence and bravery throughout while she helped her new friends solve her sister’s death.

Sencea (TheMighty) seemed like a cool character and I loved the name but she didn’t seem to grow a whole lot in personality until the end of the book. Then Brett exposed to the group (pretending it was accidental) that her mother was brutally murdered, very similar to the way Helena was. She was the easiest character to connect to as she was unsure of her life, really stuck on where to go and still haunted by her past. I like that she wanted to help people that were in her position but she’s also strong enough to tell people to go to hell when they annoy her.

I thought Maddox (MBM815) was such a misunderstood character that had something deeper beneath his surface but all through the book, he kept screwing up by being totally run by his hormones and letting Sencea down whenever she was ready to trust him. I didn’t even feel bad for him when he was being blackmailed by crazy Catherine. I’m glad Sencea shut down all option of a romantic relationship with him in the end because I really don’t care about him at the moment, maybe he’ll be more likeable in future books.

I didn’t think we’d have Brett (BMoney) in the book but I was so glad when he did because the guy from the online community that made one line conclusions to cases (that were usually right) sounded so badass. His chapters gave us the idea that Brett was really happy to be included and wanted to help them along with trying to flirt with Aerin but there was always that underlying feeling that he was angry at the world for being ignored and overlooked because of his looks. When he threw the party for them he sounded totally insane as he thought of how Aerin was totally the same to him with their tragic history but I brushed it off as him just being a bit socially awkward but now I know there was definitely something wrong with him.

It was interesting that Helena was actually dead and that this book mentioned that it was a very violent death. It makes me feel disgusted to picture it happened to these imaginary characters but I like that we can have a book like this with some real violence but still with the younger audience in mind. It made the book so much better to have all of these clues left behind by Helena. We don’t really get to know what happened to her exactly but we get all of these hints of what happened from her secret messages, hidden app and Aerin.

There were so many leads but each was resolved or lead to another clue about someone else. Then everything finally turned to Skip Ingram, the father of a man they were ready to accuse and when they found a way into his apartment in New York and locked him away with the evidence, case closed. But it wasn’t because then the group all saw the signs pointing towards his wife, Marissa Ingram! When they accused her at the biggest party of the year she condemned herself by threatening to kill them and it was all recorded to put her behind bars for a long time so that was the real case closed. But wait! How did Brett know so much about Sencea’s mother and her death, why was his phone disconnected and where was he? It was an awesome conclusion to the story to have someone they thought was on their side be the killer or Aerin, Sencea’s mother and be a complete liar about everything he had told them. Then the insane murderer let us know of his plan to come back for Aerin so clearly we are not done with this story. I can’t wait to read the next one.

Click here to add this book to Goodreads.

– Kirra

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Amateurs

  1. One thing i’ve noticed after reading a couple of books written by Sara Shepard is that she has this writing pattern with rich and teen characters and she can combine perfectly mistery with drama and teen fiction. But she always gets to surprise us one way or another.


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