5 stars

Teenagers Catching Serial Killers | The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - Spoiler Free Review

July 23, 2017

Title: The Naturals
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Naturals #1
Genre: Mystery
Publication Date: November 5th 2013
Format Read: Audiobook
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Rating: ★★★★★
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.
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.
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.

 Going into this book, I literally had no clue what I was getting into. I assumed it was a murder mystery because of the cover, but boy, I did not expect THIS! A book about teenagers with natural instincts which can help catch killers? An emotion reader, a human lie detector, a statistic-obsessed pattern reader and two profilers? Heck yes! Sign me up.

The only reason I picked this up now is because the audiobook was on the first page on Overdrive and it was the only one that didn't say "place hold" but "borrow," and I was 10 minutes away from jumping into a car for a road trip and I needed to download something FAST! I am so glad I downloaded this.

Cassie is our main character, and she is a profiler. Give her a few details about somebody and she'll probably be able to give you their life story! It amazed me how she read so much into little details, and how accurate her readings were. I probably would have noticed the details, but I would never have delved into them so deeply. She is also plagued by her mother's disappearance and is haunted by the moment she found her dressing room bloody and empty. I really felt her pain, which might partly be because the audiobook narrator was fabulous.

Dean is also a profiler. I don't want to reveal many spoilers, but he is troubled. By a lot. And I loved him for it. I loved that he didn't take this as an excuse to be a jerk to everyone (bad boy with a golden heart trope ESCAPED thank the Lord.) and getting to know more about him was great. He was my favorite of the love interests.

Yes, interestS. Folks, we've got a love triangle here! Don't worry though, it's usually pushed to the back. It's also not as annoying as other you may have experienced, because everyone is (usually) respectful of everyone else. Our other love interest, Michael, the emotion reader, was not someone I connected to as much. We are told a bit about his background but I don't think the way he acted really reflected that. He was meh. A comic relief at times, I guess, which was helpful.

Lia, the human lie detector, was "the bitchy one." I loved her. She was an expert on lies, both pointing them out and telling them. Some decisions she made were questionable but as soon as she entered the scene, it became more interesting, and more enjoyable. She dabbled in the dangerous acts, which is great. I cannot wait to learn more about her in future books, as we didn't get much in this one.

Sloane is am expert in patterns, practically memories everything she comes across and rattles off statistics like a robot. She was adorable, and I loved her. She has a caffeine addiction, and she understands numbers more than she does humans. I felt like she was overlooked a lot in this book, and I hope that changes in the future, because I WANT MORE SLOANE!

The mystery itself is very intriguing. It is introduced quite late in the book as it is the first book in the series, but I feel it was developed well and dragged out just enough. As for the big reveal, I had my speculations, but I did NOT expect that at all. 

The writing style was great. I found myself getting through it very quickly because there wasn't much unnecessary bullshit and long description to waste your time. It got to the point, which I very much appreciated. Since I read the audiobook, I have to give props to Amber Faith. Sloane's and Lia's voices were impeccably done, and Dean's southern accent was fantastic! She read with so much feeling, and her voice was so captivating. It really made the experience a 100 times better, and made me feel as if I was part of the team.

Overall, a great mystery story with an interesting cast of characters. I would definitely recommend.

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