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The Amateurs

(The Amateurs #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  5,433 ratings  ·  921 reviews
I need some answers about my sister. Help…

Five years ago, high school senior Helena Kelly disappeared from her backyard in Dexby, Connecticut, never to be heard from again. Her family was left without any answers—without any idea who killed Helena, or why.

So when eighteen-year-old Seneca Frazier sees a desperate post on the Case Not Closed message board, she knows it’s tim
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 1st 2016 by Disney-Hyperion (first published October 6th 2016)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  5,433 ratings  ·  921 reviews

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Emma Giordano
Mar 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Edit 4/7 - I am dropping my rating to 3 stars. I still feel the same about my enjoyment of the story, but I really feel like there are larger issues in the construction of the story that deserve more attention than JUST the fun I had while reading.

3.5 Stars! Truthfully, this really was not a great book but I had so much fun reading it and became so addicted that part of me can’t help but love it.

The biggest flaw in this novel is the writing. Not to be ironic, but the word I would use to describe
Jesse (JesseTheReader)
I'm surprised by how much I enjoyed this book as I had low expectations. Albeit some of the characters are trash, but overlooking that this was a really enjoyable read. I went in expecting it to be predictable, but I was pretty taken aback by the direction of this story. ...more
Trina (Between Chapters)
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, 2016, mystery
I was sent a copy of this book by Freeform Books and they also sponsored my video review, which can be found on my channel:
I do not have a written review of this book because it is against Goodreads policy to post sponsored reviews here.
“A purse, maybe. I found a brown vinyl one at Goodwill a few days ago. It’s on my bed. Wanna grab it?”

Aerin was certain she’d heard her wrong. Helena’s room was off-limits. Maybe this was some kind of test? “O-okay.”

This is the last exchange the sisters had before Helena disappeared. She was seventeen, while Aerin was eleven. Now it has been five years and four months. Everyone seems to have forgotten about Helena except for Aerin. The case remains unsolved even with Helena's body being foun
Nov 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-read

Actual Rating: 4.25

Well, I think it's fair to say that Sara Shepard, aka. mystery/thriller/murder mystery goddess, has done it again with her latest novel, The Amateurs.

This novel was my most highly anticipated read of 2016, and I'm so glad it did not disappoint, even though I knew there was no chance it would.

It was crazy, exhilarating, and packed with mystery. It really got me being an investigator alongside our main clan of protagonists.

I lov
Sarah Elizabeth
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Bonnier Publishing and NetGalley.)

“She was never going to know the truth about Helena. What happened to her sister was going to remain a mystery – and a recurring nightmare – for the rest of her life.”

This was a YA mystery/crime story featuring a bunch of teens trying to solve a cold case.

The characters in this were all okay, although I didn’t really love any of them. Seneca was fairly smart
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Amateurs gave me all the nostalgic Pretty Little Liars feels and it was brilliant. Sara Shepard really knows how to keep you reading and I'll never get bored of the way her books totally play with my mind. Although this wasn't my favourite of Sara's books and didn't blow my mind as much as her previous books have done in the past, since I quite quickly predicted the outcome (perhaps because I've read so many of her previous books?) it didn't stop me from getting that '' feeling. I ...more
Dec 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
DNF @ 30%

Nothing horrendous or quotable about The Amateurs - it's just boring. 30% and I hate every character. I don't feel connected to any character. I would rather they all get punched.

I was excited to this book and I'm not sure why. I enjoy a good mystery but the fact that nothing horrific or exciting had happened has left me drained. There is also a lot of weird elements like Maddy (a boy who's name is Maddox) is into his running coach and a bunch of over dramatic teenagers who are being f
Okay wow this is definitely trash but I'm throwing it a bonus star because it actually caught me by surprise at the end there! How delightfully unexpected!

WARNING: This review contains minor spoilers

Plot: Five years ago, Aerin's sister, Helena, went missing. Her remains were found four years later, but her killer never was. Hers is one of many unsolved cases that are obsessed over by this weird online social network of amateur sleuths. Aerin reaches out to this group, and a bunch of them get
Rachel (not currently receiving notifications) Hall
The Amateurs offers a highly contemporary spin on a group of teens coming together in the name of crime fighting when the members of an internet crime-solving forum, Case Not Closed (CNC), dedicated to investigating unsolved crimes unite to tackle one of the most high-profile cases of recent years: the disappearance and murder of wealthy, white and privately educated Helena Kelly from Dexby, Connecticut. At the time of her sister’s disappearance, eleven-year-old Aerin Kelly struggled to come to ...more
Dani N
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
The Amateurs was my first experience with a book by Sara Shepard, I know I know, I can hear half of you gasping in shock. But it is true. I have never read her work, but that is not to say I am unfamiliar with Pretty Little Liars. As some of you know, I happen to be the proud owner of a 16 yr old daughter. So I have caught snippets of the television series and discovered the books lying casually around the house.

So let me explain in a bit more detail why I was very excited to receive this book.
♫✯Em loves Hollenstein✯♫❤the summertime and butterflies all belong to your creation❤
so disappointed. not only was this unbearably boring, but the character Seneca threatens to out a gay man in one scene, so DNF'd for that. Outing people isn't a way of getting what you want, it's just being a c&*t. ...more
Trigger warnings: murder, death of a sibling, death of a parent, death of a grandparent (They all happen prior to the beginning of the book, but investigating said murders is what brings the characters together, so they're discussed)

2.5 stars.

This is the first book that I've read by Sara Shepard. And based on this, I'm not *entirely* convinced I'd repeat the experience. But here's the thing: it definitely had the bones of a good, solid mystery once you waded through all the teen angst bullshit.
It was like they were strangers. Maybe they were, again.

3.5 stars

I thought a cold-case site where amateurs gather to discuss/solve/obsess over unsolved crimes a really cool concept. Unfortunately, Case Not Closed isn’t incorporated much into the story - beyond the characters meeting through it, and then getting to just ONE of the clues later in the story.

The plot is sloppy, too. Hardly anything happens in the first half (I KNOW I say that a lot but some of the characters are literally doin
2.5 stars

The premise of this book is exactly the type of thing I love. I was so excited to get my hands on it and yet, I was quite disappointed.

The characters were okay. I felt like they were a little hard to get to know, but I took that as a side effect of the reason they were together. Sadly, it also meant I didn't really connect with any of them.

The plot was interesting, yet it lacked an intensity and spark I was hoping for. It didn't seem like a puzzle to me, everything came so easy. It wa
Nov 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the authors best work. I’ll read the other two in the series but it’s lacking in what made pretty little liars and never have I ever so good
Sep 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arcs
Review originally posted on Heart Full Of Books
I was really excited by the first couple of chapters of The Amateurs, because the concept was just so cool for a girl that wishes she was Nancy Drew. The main characters, Seneca and Maddy are both part of this online forum, Case Not Closed, that gives people access to information about unsolved, cold cases the police have given up on. Using contacts, members of the website are able to solve the unsolvable and play the detective. Another of the chara
Oct 23, 2016 rated it did not like it
I've never in my life given one star to a book. But I'm done with Sara Shepard. I've basically read everything else by her and have always been uncomfortable with the fact that there are always inappropriate adult-youth relationships, where adults unethically and illegally engage with youth and it's just accepted.

I DNF this one at 63%. The story itself was great but it matters not because the kid's coach threatens him into dating her. I can't.
Samantha Daly
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my god, what an ending! I can't believe I never put everything together until the very end. I need book two NOWWWWW! ...more
rachel ☾
I bought myself The Amateurs as a gift about this time last year. Everything about the synopsis screamed that this would be a me sort of book. I expected that sharing a cast of like-minded characters would make for a fast-paced, unputdownable read but it turns out, not so much. Look, amateur detectives solving crimes that baffle the police is always going to be a hit or miss. It depends on how believable you can make the crime-solving feel and the random luck of these characters did not feel rea ...more
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
THE AMATEURS is an addictive young adult mystery about a group of teens who set out to solve a cold case that they all have special connections to. Sara Shepard’s books are like candy; I always find them completely enjoyable and hard to put down. I never finished the Pretty Little Liars series but I can definitely see how far the author has come.

THE AMATEURS was well set up, nothing seemed to be too rushed or too slow. The relationships, both platonic and romantic, developed naturally and easil
Feb 23, 2015 marked it as to-read
Another Sara Shepard book ?! Man I love her, her stories are so addicting.

I'm sold !

Beth White
This book really surpassed my expectations. I love a good thriller and expected this one to be more of a typical slightly fluffy YA read with a predictable storyline. I could not have been more wrong! It is cute and has the typical romance themes but the twists through the book, in particular the ending, were not something I had predicted at all!

My initial thoughts from reading the blurb of this book was that the characters, self made detectives who solve unsolved cases via the “case not closed
❤Marie Gentilcore
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book, 2018
This was a fun mystery. I always enjoy books by Sara Shepard.
The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori)
Full Review on The Candid Cover

4.5 Stars

The Amateurs was my first Sara Shepard, and after reading it, I definitely feel like I should read more! This murder mystery tells the story of four teens that meet online and contains a strong main character. The way the book is written is so mysterious and really makes the reader suspect everyone. This eerie book is the perfect read for the fall season!

It’s been a while since I’ve read a murder mystery novel, and The Amateurs was the perfect book to get
Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)
Aerin's older sister, Helena, disappeared five years ago and no one can figure who was responsible. Her body was found years later, but the authorities still haven't cracked the case. Now Aerin is sixteen years old and obviously still thinks about her sister and her untimely death. She finds a website that discusses cold murder cases and amateur detectives try to figure out if there are any new leads. Aerin sends out a desperate message for help and in turn, Seneca, a college student, is interes ...more
Josie  J
This book had a strong beginning but then the story began to deteriorate in the middle and continued to decline by the end. I figured out the mystery right away, and I suck at figuring out Mysteries. I had to read this for school so I couldn't dnf this, and I wish I could have because this book soured my reading mood. Would not recommend because it is just a cheesy mystery. ...more
Hannah Smith
Feb 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, mystery
Spoiler Free Review as taken from my blog Mortal Reader

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
Paula  Phillips

As a big fan of Sara Shepard's different series, when I read that she had released a new book and the beginning of a new series - I knew I had to read it, and I waited and waited till I could get my hand on a copy. I have to admit, though, that after reading this book I was a tad disappointed as it didn't compare high on my list to her other three series. In The Amateurs, Aerin Kelly's sister Helena disappeared five years ago, and then her body was found one year later. The case has remained uns
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, mystery-thriller
This was a quick, fun read and one that I am excited to get my hands on the sequel. I was hoping for another YA mystery/thriller to be able to add to my collection, especially for fans of books like The Naturals and while this does fit the bill, I am not going to get it for my middle school kiddos. The many casual references to weed, drinking, and the older ages of the characters (late high school/early college) means I am giving this one a rating of grades 9 and up.

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Sara Shepard graduated from NYU and has an MFA from Brooklyn College. She has lived in New York City, Brooklyn, Tucson, Arizona, Philadelphia, and now lives in Pittsburgh, PA. Sara's Pretty Little Liars novels were inspired by her upbringing in Philadelphia's Main Line. ...more

Other books in the series

The Amateurs (3 books)
  • Follow Me (The Amateurs, #2)
  • Last Seen (The Amateurs, #3)

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