Book Review: The Naturals

Book Review: The NaturalsThe Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Naturals #1
Also in this series: Killer Instinct, All In
Genres: Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 320
Published by Disney Electronic Content on 2013-11-05
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Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But, it's not a skill that she's ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they've begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie. What Cassie doesn't realize is that there's more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she's sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms close. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive. Think The Mentalist meets Pretty Little Liars—Jennifer Lynn-Barnes' The Naturals is a gripping psychological thriller with killer appeal, a to-die-for romance, and the bones of a gritty and compelling new series.
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Ramblings on Readings

“Interrelated crimes?”

“Serial crimes,” he said, choosing a different word and letting it hang in the air around us. “Abductions. Arson. Sexual Assault.” He paused, and I knew what the next word out of his mouth was going to be before he said it. “Murder.”

The truth he’d been dancing around for the past hour was suddenly incredibly clear. He and his team, this program–they didn’t just want to teach me how to hone my skills. They wanted to use them to catch killers.

Serial killers.

pg. 35

Holy smokes this is a creepy book. I’ve only seen half of an episode of Criminal Minds, but apparently The Naturals is the YA version of that show. Although really the only thing that’s YA about it is the main characters are teenagers. Otherwise, this book is straight up about serial killers and the people who get into their heads to catch them.

Cassie is special; she knows she doesn’t fit in with the rest of her family. When she’s approached by an FBI agent about joining a special program, she learns that her ability to to discern facts about people just by looking at them makes her a natural profiler. As her new schooling begins, Cassie soon finds herself involved in a case that’s not so cold, which was not part of the deal. Not only that, but it seems to be  mysteriously connected with her own mother’s violent, unsolved murder…

Cassie is a great heroine; she doesn’t make a bunch of dumb decisions all the time (which seems to be some disease that YA heroines have these days), she’s very perceptive (profiler), and while there is some love triangle action happening, it was believable. She wants to find the serial killer that continues to elude the FBI, but she doesn’t do anything incredibly dumb like run off in the middle of the night by herself to go find them. She’s a team player, constantly getting help and advice from the other Naturals.

The other Naturals are great as well; very quirky and extremely interesting, they all have different gifts. One can tell if you’re lying, one can read emotions, another is brilliant with numbers, and one…well, he’s another profiler, but with a past darker than Cassie’s.

Like I mentioned earlier, there is a love triangle, but it wasn’t TOO annoying. I had a preference, and I got the feeling that by the end, Cassie did too, but nothing was confirmed. I guess we have to wait till Killer Instinct to see the Dean vs. Michael battle. Both are interesting characters who are drastically different, and it was really fun to watch Cassie get to know both of them.

I thought the plotting of The Naturals was quite clever. The mystery unravels carefully, with Barnes throwing out bread crumbs, leading the reader along. The Naturals is full of suspense, serial killer creepiness, psychological issues, and FBI agents. If you’re a fan of police procedural TV shows or mysteries, you’ll like The Naturals.

If you liked The Naturals, here’s what I recommend reading next:  I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

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