The Naturals; Jennifer Lynn Barnes. 308 pages. First in series.
FROM THE BOOK JACKET:
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.
Like it says on the front cover, this book is like Criminal Minds for YA. While I’m not the biggest fan of that show, I love the idea behind it. I’m more of a CSI girl, but I still like anything to do with solving crimes or murders, especially when it’s based on realistic procedures. This book does not disappoint on all accounts.
Being part of an Italian family myself, I quite like the beginning of the book when Cassie’s family is involved. It feels familiar, though maybe a little over dramatic (although my perspective may be a little skewed since I’ve been surrounded by my family my whole life). Whereas I feel familiar in this environment, Cassie feels like an outsider. That can definitely be a difficult thing in such a tight-knit, exuberant group, so I can understand her yearning to escape when the FBI approach her. Also, it’s the FBI (awesome!).
Cassie’s profiling gift comes across as completely natural (ha), which makes the book so much better and more realistic. Her thoughts build up and progress as she makes new leaps and connects different ideas, and it’s something that she has to work on sometimes because she isn’t always right. The story would have felt too easy if she automatically sprung exactly the right information every time.
The characters are all extremely different, which is nice. Not all of them are completely likeable, but they all have multiple facets that make up their personalities and have experiences that have shaped them. Since this is the first book in the series the characters are introduced and established, and I’m looking forward to uncovering more about them in the future instalments.
I really, really enjoyed this book. It’s fantastic! I like how realistic and vibrant the characters are, I like the subject matter, and I like the pace of events. I’m not one hundred percent into who “you” turns out to be, but it works and it’s still a good conclusion. The only major problem I have/am going to have is this love triangle thing. It’s overdone and unnecessary. I read for the crime solving, not the love aspect. Aren’t murders a little more important than that? I’d be more content if there was just one love interest involved, but this whole choosing/undecided thing is a little annoying. We’ll see how it pans out, though. The awesomeness of the rest of the story pretty much make up for my feelings towards the triangle, though. I love this book and can’t wait for the next one in the series.