Second Look: Sara Shepard’s THE AMATEURS (The Amateurs #1)

Sara Shepard has a new series hitting the shelves November 1!  The Amateurs mixes Pretty Little Liars with Serial.

I have to admit, when I saw this pop up on NetGalley, I was a little unsure.  But I figured, “What they hay?” and requested it.  I’m still not completely sure…but I have to say, the ending surprised me enough to want me to read the second book.

Releases November 1, 2016

What It’s About: The story focuses on a group of teens (age ranging from about 17 to 19) that come together to solve the mystery of Helena Kelly, a girl who went missing from the prominent town of Dexby, Connecticut, and showed up dead four weeks later.

The story focuses around the friendship of Seneca and Maddox, who met online on the forum, Case Not Closed, where amateur and armchair detectives try to solve cold cases.  When spring break rolls around, Seneca decides to visit Maddy — who she thought was a girl — and try to solve the case.  (Maddox lives in Dexby.)  They are joined by Brett Grady, another member of the Case Not Closed File.

Together, they enlist the help of Aerin Kelly, Helena’s little sister, to find out what really happened to Helena.

How It’s Like PLL:  It’s the classic Rich Girl/Boy town.  Aerin is the quintessential “poor little rich girl” who’s trying to figure out who she is after the death of her sister five years earlier.  Madison, Maddox’s half-sister, is also the classic Rich Girl stereotype.


How It’s Like Serial:  They’re trying to solve a crime.  (And in that way, it’s probably like PLL, too…)

What I Thought:  Like most of Shepard’s books, it’s an easy read.  (Although, I admit it did take me over a week to actually finish it…)  Shepard’s always been good at ending chapters on a cliffhanger, making you want to immediately continue to figure out what happened.  She builds the suspense up really well.


I liked the idea of amateur detectives and trying to figure out what really happened with Helena Kelly.  The reader doesn’t have any more of an idea than the characters, too, which I like.  And honestly, I had no idea who actually “did it” by the end.  I have to say, the end threw a total twist my way, which I did not see coming.  And for that reason, I’ll continue to read the second book to see where it goes.

Spoiler! I did like that Shepard gives a definitive identity to the villain in this novel, where she had readers constantly guessing in PLL.  At least this time, if the series continues on, it won’t be so unbelievable.

I’m not a huge fan of the Shepard-world, which is so prominent in PLL.  I get tired of the poor little rich kid storylines pretty quickly.  However, Shepard did include Seneca, who’s rife with problems and personal anxieties that is really refreshing.

What’s also nice is that there are male characters with POVs in this novel, so it could appeal to male readers, too.  It’s not just a story for teen girls. :)


I can’t actually pinpoint a specific age range on this, though.  I would say young adult, but there are characters that are freshmen in college, so that could also appeal to the New Adult range.  If anyone reads it and wants to clarify this for me, please do!

Overall, I’m glad I read it.  It was better than I thought, and I’d give the second one a shot in the future.


7/10 Stars


* Thanks to Net Galley for letting me read this early to write a review!


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