This review is a long time coming. Ever since I heard that Sara Shepard was going to be authoring a book series for Freeform Books (yep, you heard that right; they’ve got a publishing imprint now, too), I knew that I had to read it. Maybe, just maybe it would fill the Pretty Little Liars, The Perfectionists, and The Lying Game shaped holes in my hearts.
The Amateurs did just that and more.
The Amateurs is about four amateur detectives, Seneca Frazier, Brett Grady, Maddox Wright, and Aerin Kelly, solving the case of Aerin’s sister’s murder.
Helena Kelly was seemingly the perfect seventeen year old. She had the perfect boyfriend, the perfect family, she was pretty, and she was smart.She had everything anyone could ever want. She had a life most teenage girls would kill for.
And one day, someone did.
On a snowy wintery day, Helena and her eleven-year-old sister Aerin were building a snowman together, and Helena sent Aerin inside to go get something they needed for the snowman. Little did Aerin know that that was the last time she’d see her sister alive. A few years after Helena disappeared, her body was found. A year later, Aerin, now just about the same age as her sister was when she was killed, posts a message on cold case solving forum called Case Not Closed.
Enter Seneca, Maddox, and Brett, three super-users from Case Not Closed that see her message and decide to help out. Together, the four of them put their heads together to get to the bottom of Helena’s murder. But the killer’s still out there somewhere, and he’s just a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Will the Amateurs set him off?
This book is probably one of Sara Shepard’s finest works. It’s got the plot twists of Pretty Little Liars (imagine taking every plot twist from the first eight books and combining them into one book, and you’ve got the end twist), the romance of The Lying Game and the complex characters and plotlines of The Perfectionists.
The final plot twist of the book is described over and over again on the back of the book, and I have to say that only one of them truly gives that plot twist justice. Kate Brian said it best when she wrote, “You think you’ll know…but you won’t know.” When you think you know who the killer is, you won’t. Imagine reading the last part of the book as a conversation with Sara Shepard.
First, Sara will laugh in your face and say, “Ha! You think that this person’s the killer? Nope. It’s this person.”
Then you’re like, “Oh, that makes sense! Thanks Sara!”
And she goes, “Oh, that’s cute, you haven’t learned anything from reading any of my books. This person isn’t the killer! It’s this person!” Then she starts laughing maniacally, and you’re like, “Okay, that was a good one, Sara. Is it over now?”
She stops laughing and she says, “Yeah, it’s over now but I had fun messing with you. Keep reading though, my ending is on point.”
So you keep reading and it turns out she lied to you. That person wasn’t the killer at all, and now they’re in jail. And the real killer is out there somewhere, eating pastries and drinking coffee (and that is not an exaggeration.)
And once you realize who the killer is, it will blow your mind into a bunch of microscopic pieces of brain-themed confetti. That’s how much of a plot twist it is. Of course, there are a TON of hints hidden throughout the story, but you’d only get that those are hinting at the killer’s identity if you’ve already read the book and are hunting for clues.
I don’t want to keep you here all day, so I’ll leave it at this: you must read this book before you die. I give it a twenty out of five stars. Also, because I’m going insane waiting for the second book, if you have patience, wait to read it until all of the books have come out, because once you start, you won’t be able to stop.