I received this book for free from Disney Book Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published by Disney Hyperion on November 5th 2013
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, YA
Source: Disney Book Group
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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.
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.
The Naturals is a hit or miss for me and very hard to review. Some parts of the book I really enjoyed, while others I found lacking. To give you an example – I’m not even sure if this book is part paranormal or not. As a serial killer mystery, however, it has its fair share of appealing qualities.
This novel starts by introducing us to our protagonist, Cassie, who’s always been good at reading people with only the tiniest of details. She quickly meets with an FBI team who takes her on to train as a profiler. That is about all we get as an introduction. Forget learning very much about this classified Naturals program. Moreover, we don’t find out where these special abilities come from. Are we supposed to assume they’re genetically modified kids, or just very talented? It seems to enforce the fact these kids’ abilities are not “normal”, but no explanations are ever given to make this something other than speculation. You simply have to take this part at face value. Furthermore, we have one dreadful love triangle in the mix, as well as side characters who could have used a lot of work – most are very two dimensional. As for Cassie, while I did like the profiling side of her – I’ve always had a fascination with criminal profiling – I found her narration lacked a certain vibrancy. I did not dislike her, exactly, but her personality was quite monotonous and failed to turn her into a memorable character.
The part that did keep my interest was the serial killer storyline. Being a big fan of crime mysteries, this part was right up my alley. The profiling bits were by far the most interesting. We see them pick up on slight details that throws them directly into the head of this killer or the event in question. Being in training, the characters have to explain what brought them to these conclusions, so fortunately this part did not lack explanation. We get to see the train of thought, from A to Z, that these profilers form with the smallest of clues. Having read my fair share of books on the matter I found it to be well researched on that front. The mystery itself did have me stumped for most of the book which was a nice change, and even if I had guessed the culprit, I would not have known the motive behind it. It was well thought-out.
The Naturals is an entertaining novel with an engaging mystery, but it lacks in areas that might have made it possible for it to stand out. As is, I finished this book 3 days ago and it’s already starting to fade from memory…
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