Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Amateurs by Sara Shepard

The Amateurs
by Sara Shepard

Summary: 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.
This is the fourth Sara Shepard book I've ever read, and it's my least favourite so far. It wasn't a bad book and there was a lot about it I enjoyed, but it's one of those stories where the idea of it is way better than the execution.

I don't have a lot to say about the book really. I liked the characters, but there was just a spark missing to bring them to life. The plot required a lot of suspension of disbelief and was a bit trope-y at times, which didn't bother me too much but it did hold me back from really getting into the story.

The most disappointing thing for me was the friendships really, particularly the female friendships. I've found in Sara's other books I can forgive a lot when it comes to the plot or the writing if the relationships between the characters was done well and in this one, there was something lacking there. She usually excels at writing friendships but not in this one, they felt really underdeveloped -- the whole thing did really.

Basically, I love the idea of this story (a group of teen sleuths getting together to solve cold cases? awesome!) but the whole thing felt rushed. The bones of a good book were there, but it needed to be fleshed out more.

I was surprised by the final twist at the end and I do want to see the characters developed more so I'll definitely pick up the sequel, but this one was just an okay read for me. I'd rate it 2.5 stars out of 5.


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