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Book Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Jennifer Lynn Barnes has hit a home run with The Naturals. I don’t like sports analogies, but that’s the most appropriate phrase for this young adult fantasy thriller. It’s exciting and suspenseful and funny. Just an overall winner.

Book Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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the naturals jennifer lynn barnes

Title & Author: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Genre: YA Science Fiction- Paranormal Abilities

Release Date: November 5, 2013

Series: Book 1 of a series (??)

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

How I Got the Book: ARC via NetGalley

Description:

“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.”

Mad Skillz Save the Day

The Naturals is one of my favorite books of the year. In every way it’s a glorious paradox. Once you think you’ve gotten Cassie’s snarky, spunky personality pegged, she does something spontaneous. And, once you think you know who the scarily active serial killer is, you’ll need to guess again.

Approached by the FBI to work for their Naturals program, Cassie is offered the chance to use her uncanny ability to predict criminal behavior, becoming their newest profiler. She joins a small group of other teenagers who have similar specialty abilities.

Paradox 1: Insightful, innate skills that make teens anything but “natural” or normal.

Cassie is such an interesting character because she loves deeply but rarely. Ever since her own mother was killed by a serial killer, she’s kept her heart hidden and reserved. At the FBI house with other teens, though, the tug of war between who will get a piece of it is ON (Team Michael or Team Dean?!). One of my favorite scenes in The Naturals involves a very interesting round of Truth or Dare. I seriously ate it UP!

Paradox 2: Loving deeply does not mean loving often.

Just like with any crime or mystery story, it always seems like the most obvious tells or signs are missed by the hero or heroine. How does that always manage to happen? So, even though Cassie, Michael and Dean are on are the serial murder case – unofficially of course – they all fail to spot the killer.

Paradox 3: The least likely hiding spot is always in plain sight.

Great Pacing, Even Better Banter

The Naturals was simply fantastic. I couldn’t read it fast enough. I thoroughly enjoyed Cassie as the sassy, strong heroine, the wonderfully complicated love triangle and the killer mystery.

Plus, Barnes avoided a trap that many authors unwittingly fall into. As a reader, I don’t want to read the sequel and think, “This is a repeat of what happened in book 1. There’s a bad guy, and there’s tension. Now the bad guy is caught and new tension must be created for book 2.”

In The Naturals, there is a large overall picture. You think you know what it is, but you don’t. So at the end of the book, the tension is not resolved (well, a bit), so there’s an even BIGGER building up of tension than you ever could have imagined. Genius.

That way there’s not a strange fumbling for a new “problem” in the sequel. Readers know what it is and are ready for it.

OVERALL:

As a lover of surprises and twists and turns, this book did not disappoint. Plus, you can add on humor, warmth and real issues. I loved The Naturals and honestly believe you will too.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.