Nov 7, 2016

Review: Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

TitleBad Blood
Authors: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publishing Date: November 1, 2016
Pages/Format: 384, Hardcover
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When Cassie Hobbes joined the FBI's Naturals program, she had one goal: uncover the truth about her mother's murder. But now, everything Cassie thought she knew about what happened that night has been called into question. Her mother is alive, and the people holding her captive are more powerful—and dangerous—than anything the Naturals have faced so far. 

As Cassie and the team work to uncover the secrets of a group that has been killing in secret for generations, they find themselves racing a ticking clock.

New victims. New betrayals. New secrets.

When the bodies begin piling up, it soon becomes apparent that this time, the Naturals aren't just hunting serial killers.

Book in One Word: MOOORE

Ever since reading the utterly and fantastically surprising The Naturals three years ago, I've been a big, big fan of Jennifer Lynn Barnes's spectacular, thrilling, crime-solving series. Despite All In not being quite what I had hoped, its predecessors The Naturals and Killer Instinct were, I kid you not, practically flawless. This series, which just so happens to be one of my favorites, has been pitched as a YA Criminal Minds, and that is so damn accurate--except these books are better. The only problem is Bad Blood, because I did not--absolutely did not--give this series permission to end.

Bad Blood picks up pretty much right after where All In left off (spoilers for the first three books ahead), with the Naturals squad trying to solve one helluva case: a secret society/cult/whatever you want to call it of murderers that have been around for who knows how long. With the case--and at the center of it all--is a special mission for our protagonist and profiler Cassie: the search for her mother, who was thought to be murdered but is actually alive--and part of the cult. The case will bring new horrors and death (of course), new characters (which is great and all, but I like my squad as is and without new members, please and thank you), all kinds of trouble (a given), and the usual banter and love between our Naturals (my babies). WHY DOES IT HAVE TO END WITH THIS BOOK?

I had mentioned that The Naturals is like Criminal Minds but with a teen-version of the BAU--and I was completely serious. Cassie and Dean are profilers and put themselves in the shoes of the murderer or the murderee (or anyone, really); Michael is incredibly good at looking at a person and knowing what their emotions are and exactly what they're feeling; Lia is literally a human lie detector, plain and simple--and she's stunningly good at lying herself; Sloane is the brains, the fact-spewing Spencer Reid/Garcia. They're called Naturals because they're naturals; no textbook taught them how to be useful when solving crimes. Instead their teachers were life and experience, whether it was how to survive an abusive father, cope with a dead mother, or live with having a serial killer as a father. The Naturals come from hard times, and they are so incredibly far from perfect and their bones are made of flaws, but that's what makes them so real and dimensional and perfect. I adore them. (Also, Cassie and Dean FOREVER. It's super great that romance isn't the focus in these books because that's not what they're about and all that--I mean, yeah, someone died--but my gosh would I love more romance and kissing my gosh).

What's great about Bad Blood--and what I think every book in this series does, and good thrillers in general--is that it is so damn devourable. I made a teeny tiny dent in it one night, then read the rest the next day all day and totally shirked all my responsibilities and was just lazy as hell. That's because you can't do that whole "just one more chapter" thing with these books. You can't. You can tell yourself that, but there's no good place to stop. The reason for that is because Jennifer Lynn Barnes knows what she's doing. I'm pretty sure I've said this before in a different review, but Barnes knows how to write, and she doesn't just write a murder that needs to be solved: she writes it out from Point A to Point B and researches every single linking crumb in between. There's no way she winged or pantsed this: it's all plotted and planned out to a T. She keeps most chapters short and sweet and ends them just as you're waiting for something (always) to keep you on edge and going, going, going. It freaking works, and once you start reading it's very, very hard to stop until you get to the end--and even then, you'll be hungry for more, more, more.

I've struggled to really love books lately ("it's not me, it's you") and I can be such a Negative Nancy, but Bad Blood went rather well. I will admit that the ending tapered off a bit for my tastes, and, with this apparently being the last book (hmph), I feel like a handful of things were left unanswered and I have questions. But it's like I said: I love this series; this went well; I freaking devoured it; and Jennifer Lynn Barnes can write. (It's not too often that a line in a book stands out to me but there's one in here that I want to post EVERYWHERE but I can't because spoilers.) I just want more, damn it. This series could be composed of five million books (like a true crime/thriller series) and that still wouldn't be enough (also, look at how many episodes there are of Criminal Minds. Catch up. Just keep the main cast of characters, okay?). I would also like a book that's just about Cassie and Dean as a couple (and with lots of kissing, clearly), thank you very much. I'm not ready to say goodbye to this series, murder, and my lovely, perfectly broken #squadgoals Naturals. It is, once again, like I said: I did not, and do not, give this series permission to end.

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? Almost?
Would I reread it? Absolutely.
Would I purchase it? Please, I preordered this.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of Criminal Minds, thrillers, mysteries, and crime solving, stellar (and clearly researched) prose and storytelling, and casts of dimensional, off-the-page characters worth giving a damn about.


  1. Hmmm. I didn't realize this was the end of the series. I know how much you love these books, so I'll have to look into it soon. I think I might be a book behind, but I'm not sure. Also, I fucking love that cover.

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