Oct 31, 2013

Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Title: The Naturals
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publishing Date: November 5, 2013
Pages/Format: 304, eARC

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.


Initial Reaction of Book in One Word: SOGOOD

Going into The Naturals, I think I was expecting just an okay book. But I'm pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this--in fact, I really, really liked it! There's something about this book that just WORKED. And you know what else? I'm not going to have a paragraph discussing what I disliked about the book because I can't really think of anything. But you know what I did think while reading it? That this book is pretty much flawless. How often do I say that? (Not often.)

Let's talk about the concept and plot. First off, it was AWESOME. This book has been called a YA Criminal Minds, which is what got me interested in the first place. I want more books like this--a unique idea that's written in a way that makes a morbid-esque subject not so morbid. (Like Kimberly Derting's fantastic Body Finder series.) The Naturals is about a group of teens who are called Naturals. And they're called that because they have profiling skills that come natural to them--no school necessary! So this group of teens (to be discussed later) gets pulled together, each with their own set of kills, and start training to work on cold cases in the FBI. (I think that's what they were doing. Don't quote me.) Eventually, they could be official members in the FBI and work at Quantico...like the group in Criminal Minds! It's kind of like an internship. And did I mention that it's awesome?

Jennifer's writing was extremely well done. I can't think of any complaints, so there was obviously nothing major that bothered me. And how she wrote the story--the buildup was great. I've seen people complain about predictable endings in books, but I really don't think anyone could figure this one out all the way. Sure, I had my guesses. And I thought I was right. Then wrong. Then I had another guess, then went back to my original guess, and then I was just all over the place. And I LOVED that! The end totally had me on my toes, and I kept thinking to myself, "This book is SO. GOOD!" I didn't get too far into the book before I had troubles putting it down. Seriously. Jennifer knows how to keep a reader hooked.

Another great (I know, I'm using that word a lot) aspect was the eclectic cast of characters. It's told from the POV of Cassie, a teen who's really good at reading people (a natural, you could say) and gets plucked from her grandma's home and taken to D.C. to see if she can be a Natural. I didn't mind Cassie as a character or as the MC--she wasn't annoying and she wasn't stupid. She was a completely bearable mind to be in. As she enters this Naturals world, she meets a bunch of new people. There's Lia, the human lie detector (and, let's face it, a bitch). Sloane is the nerdy, has-a-statistic-for-everything girl, so basically she's like Dr. Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds. And then we have Michael and Dean. I don't really mind love triangles--it makes it less obvious who someone might end up with. That said, I wasn't always sure--and still aren't--who Cassie liked more. Me, well...You know, you're cute and nice and all Michael, but Dean has that whole brooding, mysterious thing going on, so I choose him. But neither is a bad pick!

Summed up, here's The Naturals: Great writing, great characters, great pace, great story, just great! If you're looking for a fun, feel-good book (seriously, I felt great while reading this) then this is just for you! And the best part...THERE'S GOING TO BE A SECOND BOOK! At one point in the book I realized that I didn't want it to end because I was enjoying it so much and that I didn't want it to be a standalone because one book like this, in this world and with these characters, just wasn't enough. So yay to another book! The only problem is that we know nothing about it and it will probably be out in, like, a million years. So sigh. But otherwise...I'd highly recommend The Naturals for anyone and everyone. It's a very good book with very (very) few issues. Well done, Jennifer Lynn Barnes!

Did I like it? Yes!
Did I love it? I don't think I quite did (and I don't mean that negatively or against the book at all), but I REALLY, REALLY liked it.
Would I reread it? Totally, even though I already know what's going to happen.
Would I purchase it? Yesss.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of Criminal Minds and people who want a book that is fun, has an interesting concept, and is done well.

7 comments:

  1. Gahhh, I cannot wait to read this! November 5th, hurry up!!

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  2. Ooohhhh, I love Criminal Minds and the Body Finder series so this sounds like a book I've got to read! Great review! :)

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  3. What age is this book appropriate for? 13?

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    1. Hmmm, that's a good question! On Barnes & Noble's website it says 12 and up, if that helps. I wouldn't say it's inappropriate for a thirteen year old. There is some romance, and it does have murder, but it's nothing you wouldn't see on TV (though it isn't pure innocence). It depends on what the reader is comfortable with, too. Does that help?

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  4. I tore right through this one. Like you, I spent a lot of the last bit of the book trying to puzzle out who the villain was (and getting it wrong more often than not)! I loved the unpredictability of it - and how the profiler you/I games served to help turn the readers' preconceptions against me. I can't wait for the sequel!
    I enjoyed your review, so I've linked to it on mine.

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  5. I'm getting this book RIGHT NOW. I got linked to it off your WOW post and I'm just like MUST READ NOOOOW.

    I think when I get done blog hopping and doing some blog stuff I'll be delving into this.

    I love your blog name and your voice in your reviews. I followed you via twitter, bloglovin, and GFC.

    I cannot wait to see what books you bring into my life.

    Rebecca @ Vicariously!

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