Title: The Naturals
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Naturals
Book #: 1
Reading Level: YA
Book Rating: .7
Goodreads Rating: 3.98
Published: November 5th, 2013
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.
For me it is much more difficult to write a review about a book I like than a book I dislike. Give me a book I dislike with a passion and I can write page after page of the many reasons why that book shouldn't have even been published, but give me a book I like and I freak out a little. Because I want to think of just the right word or sentence that will make you pick up this book, and not just because I liked it but because it is worth it. The Naturals is so worth it.
"And on it went—good natured ribbing, family jokes. I played the part, letting their energy infect me, saying what they wanted me to say, smiling their smiles. It was warm and safe and happy—but it wasn't me. It never was."Not many books are instant likes for me. With a lot of books my liking it has to increasingly build up page after page until finally I am in love. With The Naturals it only took me a few pages for me to be hooked. The premise might have made me pick up the book but it was it's characters that made me stick around. Cassie is a misunderstood teenager, but not in the usual way. She keeps everybody at arms length and can't seem to connect with anybody, not even her family. Why? Because nobody quite understands her. They can't, they are not Naturals.
"People were people, but for better or worse, most days, they were just puzzles to me. Easy puzzles, hard puzzles, crosswords, mind0benders, sudoku. There was always an answer, and I couldn't stop myself from pushing until I found it."The Naturals are a rag tag group of teens who have an ingrained gift. Cassie, for example, was born with the talent to profile people. She basically puts people in a box, she predicts people's behaviors and figures out personalities. Cassie's personality can be a little dry, so you may like her or you may not. I ended up loving her. She might not be quick witted but she is dark and smart and intuitive... She is also focused and driven.
"I realized suddenly that most people my age—most people any age—wouldn't be able to take reading these interviews. They wouldn't want to, and they certainly wouldn't lose themselves to it, the way I would. The way I already had. Friedman's interview was horrible and horrifying—but I couldn't turn off the part of my brain that wanted to understand."The complete group of teens comprises of 3 girls and two guys. Lia is a natural at telling when people are lying, and at lying herself. Michael is a natural at telling emotions, he is a potential love interest. Dean is another natural profiler with a dark past. He isn't very talkative, unlike Michael. Guess who Cassie feels a stronger connection to? Her and Dean have this undeniable chemistry. When they try to solve a cold case together Dean speaks in the first person perspective while Cassie works by talking in the second person perspective. "You" did this, as if she was reasoning with the killer itself, and Dean talks back to her as if he was the killer filling the blanks in the story. Their dance is a dark and sensual one, one that is bound to explode. I can't wait to read about it when it happens.
Lia is by far the most colorful female character of the bunch. She is alive. She takes live by the balls and doesn't let go. She also calls everybody on their bullshit and is pretty good with telling the truth (though you wouldn't know otherwise because she is a terrific liar). I have to give kudos to the author for not going the easy route and making Lia the villain, the girl who hates the MC's guts just because she gets the attention and so we grow to dislike her. Lia isn't as black and white as all that.
"You really are incredibly popular aren't you?" Lia said. "It defies all logic. I assumed you were just the new shiny. In a program with so few students, it would be weirder if the new girl didn't draw attention from the opposite sex. But neither Michael nor Dean would have a reason to mail you a package, so I can only infer that your, shall we say, appeal isn't limited to people who live here."Did I mention I also love Lia? Because I do. The only character that falls short is Sloane, the girl who is "a Natural with numbers and probabilities."
"The first thing I noticed about the girl—other than the chipper tone in her voice and the fact that she has literally just defined normal—was her hair. It was blond, glow-in-the-dark pale, and stick straight. The ends were uneven and her blunt-cut bangs were too short, like she'd chopped them off herself."So Sloane is the very bright girl, who happens to be blonde. I think that by trying to debunk the theory that all blondes are dumb by making her the genius Jennifer Barnes wasn't quite successful in making her not a stereotype. She is a new kind of stereotype- the super smart girl friend who happens to be there with the right information at the nick of time without having much of a back story herself. Also, she is blonde. I just wish I would have gotten to know Sloane better, maybe she, like the rest of the crew, has a dark and twisty past that will make her stand out. I am hoping we get to know her a bit better in the next book, and not just the superficial tid bits like she gets super hyper if she drinks coffee (somehow, not surprised).
The Naturals reminded me of [book:Killer Instinct|18343196] in a way. Cassie's personality reminds me of Lane's, only Lane is more hands on while Cassie is more cerebral. In terms of plot, well, it has it's similarities as well. But While Killer Instinct is all about going at it solo The Naturals is more into the Scoobie Doo business which I really enjoy, specially if it is to be a series. For the record The Naturals was published before Killer Instinct, and other than some mild similarities they are completely different.
This is my first Jennifer Lynn Barnes novel so I can't compare it to her other books, but if her other novels are as imaginative and relatable as this little gem by gods I need to pick them up ASAP. I hope that with The Natural's sequel we get some more of the magic that has got me hooked so far and that we get a little more back story into the various characters. I have got to say, I am a fan.