by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Expected Publishing Date: November 5, 2013
Length: 304 pages
Obtained Via: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This is no way influenced my final opinion of the work.
Format Read In: E-ARC
View from the Traffic Light:
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.
I’ve always found the ability to profile and read body language, manerisms, and nonverbal clues interesting. So interesting, in fact, that I took a class in nonverbal communications. After that class, I never particularly felt that being a “Natural” would be that great–I don’t know, being a human lie detector sounds great at first, but I’m not sure I would actually like the way that could play out in life. All this made me incredibly interested in reading The Naturals, and I’m glad I did.
On the whole, I thought The Naturals was an engaging story. It was basically a murder mystery, but the way Barnes approaches crime-solving is really what makes this one stand out a bit. The plot itself wasn’t anything new, in my opinion, and nor were the characters. I did have some problems with the characterization, which I’ll get to, but it didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the story too much.
The Naturals was one of those books that made me catch my breath and want to figure out the “Who’s the murderer?” question as soon as possible. The book isn’t exceptionally gory or scary, but it did get pretty up-close and personal to some crime scenes, which I sometimes have trouble with. It wasn’t always easy to read, but it wasn’t too bloody or gory. I might have caught my breath a few times, but I never felt the need to put the book down or walk away.
The one thing that set The Naturals apart from just another murder mystery is definitely the addition of the “Naturals”–the teenagers who have exceptional affinities for being able to read people. It was so interesting to read about these teenagers, and I thought Barnes did a pretty good job of getting inside their heads and how they viewed the people around them. The one thing I did have trouble with, though, as far as these natural abilities go, as that they’re all so. . . separate, from each other. Let me try to explain.
So one of the boys who is part of the Naturals program is a natural “mood reader”. He can tell how people are feeling based upon their stance, their gestures, and their facial expressions. Okay, fair enough. But then there’s another character, Lia. She’s the ever-popular “mean” girl character personified(with, you know, bits of humanity strewn in), and is a natural lie-detector. People are complex, and I have trouble believing someone who is a natural at moods & expressions wouldn’t also be able to deal with, say, liars. Also, if Lia is able to detect when people is lying, there should be things that tip her off–most likely the same things that tip the human mood reader off. And that was part of the book I could never quite buy in to.
The other main thing that made The Naturals move down in the ratings was way each of the teenagers were characterized. I thought Cassie’s story was nothing out of the box, which weakened the story quite a bit because I couldn’t feel any depth to her emotions. Everything was clinical, but The Naturals wasn’t written in a way that made me believe it was SUPPOSE to be clinical, so it ended up feeling like an accident. And Michael and Dean are decent enough characters, but they don’t really add anything new. They’re just kind of. . . there.
That being said, I did enjoy the book for it’s fast-paced action. I did NOT see the plot twist coming, which always gets a thumbs-up from me. I like being surprised and I feel like it rarely happens, so it’s always fun when a book manages to do just that. I think readers who like crime mysteries and teenagers with abilities will enjoy The Naturals.
Final Impression: I had some problems with The Naturals as far as some of the logic presented in the book as well as some of the characterization–it just never felt very deep to me–but I did enjoy the story. Taking away the naturals program would make this book just another murder mystery, but the addition of the naturals made it different from anything I’d ever read. 3/5 cupcakes.