ARC Review: Killer Instinct

ARC Review: Killer InstinctKiller Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Naturals #2
Published by Disney-Hyperion on 2014-11-04
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 384
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Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother's murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean's incarcerated father-a man he'd do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer's psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer's brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

Jennifer Lynn Barnes far exceeds her first book of this series, The Naturals, with an excellent sequel in Killer Instinct. Everything I loved about the first is present in the second, aided by a plethora of things that were new that I loved even more.

Last summer, Cassie and the gang of Naturals took down a serial killer very close to home. Now, still reeling from the after effects of that case, they catch wind of a new killer, whose MO is oddly similar to Dean’s father’s, the notorious, though incarcerated Daniel Redding. As the killings continue, the team struggles to keep up with this new killer, going so far as to seek Redding’s help. As they go deeper, Cassie suddenly finds her own life in danger; will the other Naturals be able to find her before it’s too late?

I LOVED Killer Instinct. It’s still creepy, still fascinating, and Barnes delves deep into the kids in a way that she didn’t in the first book. You get to know the Naturals, especially Dean, far better than you knew them before. Much of this book deals with what exactly in their life made them the way they are.

Maybe I should this book is really mostly about Dean.

Poor Dean. I loved getting to know the dark crevices of his mind. It makes him such an interesting and sympathetic character. It’s been a while since I’ve read a YA book where a relationship is so slowly and believably plotted as Dean and Cassie’s. It’s a painful journey, but SO worth it. I am dying to know what’s in store for them. Barnes really messes with Dean and his emotional health, and as twisted as it sounds, it was SO great. You learn so much about him, and I love him even more.

You certainly get to know the other Naturals better as well, especially Lia and Michael. Even Briggs gets some attention. There’s a new agent in town to replace Locke, and she’s a great addition to the team. Because The Naturals was so focused on Cassie’s character development, there isn’t much here, partly because it’s so focused on Dean.

The conflict in this book. I thought the first one was good. This was BRILLIANT. I didn’t see it coming. At all. I spent half the book trying to figure out who the killer was and I was WAY off. Barnes crafts an edge-of-your-seat plot, delivering red herring after red herring (all believable as well), letting it culminate in what I found to be a very satisfying ending. And terrifying. Thank goodness that Barnes doesn’t leave us with cliff hangers. It would be like the show 24 except we’d have to wait a year for the next episode.

Have no fear, readers of the internet. Barnes suffers no sequel slump. I loved The Naturals and Killer Instinct is twice as good as it’s predecessor. One can only hope that trend continues. I have faith that it will.

5 Stars

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