Let Cassie and the rest of the exceptional kids in this story show you in this new and highly exciting Jennifer Lynn Barnes novel.
Title: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: November 5th 2013
Published by: Disney-Hyperion
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository
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.
They do not have superpowers, they're just a bunch of highly gifted teenagers being trained to help the FBI. Cassie never thought she would be a part of them, but with the ability to read people, a profiler, a skill she honed with all the years living with a mother who was pretending to be psychic, she was recruited to help solve cold cases the police never had a chance to close. Now she's training to catch serial killers with other kids like her, and some of them were not exactly welcoming. Apart from the challenge of solving a case gone cold, Cassie had to deal with living in a house filled with people who are highly different than her. And then one day, Cassie was haunted by the very same unsolved puzzle that was her mother's murder, closely linked to the very same case they were solving, and it was clear that Cassie is also a target. How can her skill and training help her solve the case with her life still intact?
Cassie's mother has been missing for years, and the memory of a bloody dressing room without a body still haunts her. It took a while for me to connect with her, as Cassie had this skeptical air around her, it might be because she can profile people as easily as she breathes, which can be quite unnerving. It felt like she can judge anyone and everyone within seconds of meeting them. I understand the reason why she felt like it was the right thing to become a consultant for the FBI, her life wasn't easy after her mother's supposed murder. But she's tough, though a bit of a loner.
It's really interesting to see the dynamics when you put a profiler (Cassie), a person who can read emotions & facial expressions (Michael), the perfect liar (Lia), a math genius (Sloane) and another skilled profile who has dealt with a lot more gruesome cases (Dean) together and watch them interact with each other. It wasn't just because of their clashing personalities, but sometimes their abilities and what they've done with it put them at odds with each other, not to mention the stress and horrors that comes with their job and how they react to it. Lia rubs me off the wrong way at first, but it's entertaining to see her and Sloane getting along with Cassie, who isn't really friendly.
And of course, who would want to miss Dean and Michael crossing swords with each other, with Cassie in the middle, fighting her growing attraction for both of them? I liked Michael, despite the playful attitude he displayed at first. Beneath the playboy, easygoing personality lies something deeper, sadder and more complicated. Dean's personality is a lot darker, quiet, a bit unsteady and dangerous, but given the circumstances of their work I was more attracted to the way thing were between Michael and Cassie. It felt lighter, and Cassie needed that breath of fresher air. There was always this lingering feeling that Dean was hiding something crucial, and I have to admit it was easier for me to suspect him as an accomplice more than anyone else in their team.
I've always been a fan of Jennifer Lynn Barnes' writing, and she has a knack with writing really engrossing thrillers like this book. I had to remind myself to catch my breath every once in a while because a sense of urgency to know and crack the case open filled me as I drive deeper into the story. It's not that this book was filled with gore, but the way Cassie, Dean, Michael and the rest of the police force followed clue after clue, entering scene after gruesome murder scene as they dive deeper into a cold blooded killer's mind was enough to make me shiver at times. What gave this book a chilling edge, aside from the vivid description of each victim, the way they died and how every single one was connected to Cassie, were the times where we also get a glimpse of what's going on in the mind of the killer in the form of "You". The dark thoughts, resentment, hate, abuse, obsession, they were all presented in such a way that lingers in your mind and make you think just who this person might be.
The Naturals capture your attention one page at a time until it's all you can think about. The way Jennifer Lynn Barnes wrote this book was amazing, and I feel my heart beat a little faster as I approach the ending. I kept guessing until the very crucial moment and my jaw dropped when my guess was confirmed. What a twist! The way The Naturals left me reeling from the adrenaline rush. What a read! This book is definitely one of my favorites this year and another gem to add to my Jennifer Lynn Barnes collection!
Content (plot, story flow, character):
I wholeheartedly give this a 5. I absolutely love the way Jennifer Lynn Barnes write and although this is very different from Every Other Day, I enjoyed reading this as much as I did EOD. The way she write just makes me feel exhilarated!
Stunning: Worthy of a Goddess' Praise!
I still prefer the ARC cover. I don't know why they felt the need to change it, I thought it was a nice visual and gives the novel a better feel than the gift box.