Review: The Naturals – Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Release Date: November 5th 2013
Published By: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 305
Goodreads: Add it to your reading list

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis: 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.

Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. 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.

Review: The Naturals is so unlike any other YA book that I have read, and this in itself was so refreshing. Being a bit of a crime buff, I ate this book up. FBI, Unsubs, behavioural profiling and psychology? Yes please – in fact, I’ll take two.

Cassie is our 17 year old protagonist. She has a gift for reading a person in a very short amount of time through observation. Through your every little movement, facial expressions, words you chose, the tone in which you say it – even the fact that you leave your lid off your pen will give her insight into your personality trait. Behaviour, personality & environment. BPE.

Her abilites don’t go unnoticed by the FBI who ask her to join The Naturals, a group of teenagers like herself that have abnormal abilities to help share some of their skills with the FBI. Behavioural profilers like herself, a human truth detector and someone that reads emotions. Whilst some a reality perspective this of course is maybe a little far fetched, if you can look beyond this (as I did), the story itself is highly engaging and entertaining.

Cassie has a motive for joining The Naturals. Her mother was murdered when she was 5 and she’s hoping to be able to help the FBI on some cold cases – perhaps her mothers case. Her mother’s killer is still at large and she won’t rest until she finds out who did it.

There’s a love triangle that didn’t really serve any purpose, and subsequently, I didn’t understand why it was even a part of the story. I like love triangles when they are done right, and when they are relevant to the progression of the story itself, but unfortunately this one just didn’t do anything for me. Michael was kinda the mysterious but sweet guy and Dean was the bad boy… both characters were decent and I enjoyed them, but I just didn’t feel it was necessary for this to lead to a love triangle just because it really wasn’t relevant to the story.

The serial killer on the run escalates in severity throughout the story and I really liked this aspect, where the FBI are chasing their tails as more and more people are falling victims. It created a real sense of urgency as the murders start becoming more frequent and frenzied, and especially as the end is nearing I really anticipated finding out who it was that was behind all of the murders and seeing if I was right. This was an aspect of the novel that was, in my opinion, really well done.

Of course there is the inevitable twist at the end. Whilst I had my hunch on who it was, I was never 100% sure until the end, and I enjoyed the way the ending was actually delivered.

Overall this was a really enjoyable read. Definitely an easy book to get through and I found I was getting through the pages really quickly just to find out what happened next. Definitely one to check out when it’s released in November!

What do you think?

  • Chaaarlie says:

    I recently got this book through Netgalley and the FBI-ish feel was what made me want to read this book. I’m still having a withdrawal over the TV series Chuck and I thought that this might be what I need to for some adrenalin that CIA/CSI/FBI related stuff gives me.

    Great review, Melissa! That part where they’re chasing the serial killer excites me for the same reason. I love guessing while reading and I love it more when the author can still surprise me despite having lots of theories in my mind.

  • Carolyn says:

    I have just finished reading this and thought it was great. I must admit that after I started reading I did look at your review and every time I thought I knew who the killer was I kept remembering what you had said about not being 100% sure until the end. My thoughts kept changing as I progressed.

    I too am a fan of crime books and TV shows and loved the concept of this book.

    Must admit I don’t advise reading it at night when you are home alone as I did.

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