Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review:The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals
The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher- Disney-Hyperion 
Released- Nov 5th 2013
Pre-Order- Amazon / B & N 

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.

My Thoughts:
Cassie gives a whole new meaning to being able to read someone. She's always had this special gift of being able to see a person and know who they are and what they want just by the way they dress or order food. But she never thought someone would be reading her as well. Cassie is a natural profiler. Recruited by the FBI as a special agent in The Program that has naturally gifted teens who are trained to help behind the scenes with cold cases the Bureau can't solve. And since Cassie's mother is presumed dead, this is the chance to do something she's been waiting to do for five years. To use her abilities to solve unsolvable crimes and maybe even solve her own mother's mystery. But when a new killer surfaces it hits a little to close to home and becomes personal. Cassie and the team of Naturals will have to use all their skills to catch a killer before it's to late.

I have never had much of a comfort zone with these kind of books. Serial killers isn't an escape I tend to venture often, but the book junkie in me can't seem to resist pushing the limits. I'm really glad I gave this book a go. I haven't had this much fun since The Body Finder days. Barnes knows how to bring on the very creepy and crazy.
I've read some of Jennifer Lynn Barnes other books before and always enjoyed the way this women can write. She has some real fantastic skills when developing the tone of her books. In her wolf series she really captures that intense dark and disciplined edge but for this book, the writing is very smooth, controlled and instantly absorbing with an overall piercing eeriness I look for in my mystery thriller escapes, as well as adding in some lighter amusing moments to shake off the scare.

I was really impressed with The Naturals right from the start. It's a a very calculating story that combines specific specialized physic skills with psychopathic serial killers. Now, this concept isn't anything new but it doesn't stop it from being completely fascinating. I loved the way Barnes may have seemed to used the traditional physic genre but twisted it into something a little bit different. In other books I've read with this kind of element, the characters usually tend to use their abilities from within, like mind reading or actually feeling the exact emotion stirring, but in this book, these characters gifts are designed to use their advantages to the physical of a subject. Mannerisms, facial expression, quirks, the clothes they wear or the car they drive, they see what's outside of a person before they dwell what may be lurking inside. 
The thrill factor is very disturbing, especially to someone like me who gets freaked out easily. On top of the thoughts of the deranged killer and what was done to the victims we also have some horrific stories that are apart of Cassie's training. Cases of other killers and what they have done, but it's more then that. It's the way Cassie and Dean analyze these scenes. When they work together to climb into the warped mind of the killers and put themselves literately in their shoes committing these horrible crimes. It's was like watching ice creeping slowly into veins. Powerless and Unsettling.

I really enjoyed all of these characters and love the way Barnes developed them throughout the story and through Cassie's profiling eyes. They are all kinds of brilliant and messed-up.
Cassie is a brave, calm, collected and curious girl that doesn't show how much everything affects her, but inside her emotions are everywhere. The Program is personal to her because of her mother, but at the same time she wants to be able to learn her role and make her dent with the team.
Michael has this twinkle of mischief the minute we meet him. He's overly confident and arrogant. He knows how to read emotions and may seem more put together then the rest of the team, but he still has a past that makes him vulnerable and human. I love the banter and playfulness he has with Cassie and the rest of the group. A very charming character.
Lia is spunky and a bit scary. She's the compulsive liar of the group and can tell when a subject is telling the truth. She brings in a lot of entertainment and sass to the story.
Sloane is eccentric and a fun addition. She's our pattern and number specialist and a bit awkward. Loved the coffee scene.
Then we have the very complicated Dean. He too is a natural profiler with a very large chip on his shoulder. Unlike Michael, Dean has been in the program at a very young age and  doesn't even have to work at knowing how a killer thinks. He comes off a little harsh but his past carries him in ways no one else can understand.
The teams chemistry was one of my favorite parts of the story. They are all bizarrely intriguing with incredible gifts that are fun to explore. The romance is well on its way to forming one of those pesky love triangles, but for now we only got a few moments that were light but sweet. The sap in me would usually complain with the lack of swoon, but the thrills and mystery took on a life of it's own in this book and anything more would have felt forced or rushed. I am however looking forward to seeing how things developed since I like both guys very much.
I also thought the ending was really well done. Somethings I get lucky and guess who the killer might be but this time I was really quite shocked. I never saw that coming and thought it was a brilliant move on Barnes part.

Bottom line, I thoroughly enjoyed myself with this book. It's fascinating, compelling and simply brilliant. It also scared the hell out of me, yes, but it was so much fun getting there. I can't wait to see where Barnes takes this next! 
An exceptional read!

Find the author:
Goodreads / Website                              4.5 Snowflakes 


  1. I loved this one too! You pretty much summed up all of my thoughts in your review!

  2. I want. I want it. I was so bummed when I didn't get a review copy because it sounds like it's absolutely amazing. I like the premise and I'm glad that you think it follows through. I definitely have to grab a copy.

    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

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