The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes Genre: YA, Mystery, Thriller Publisher: Disney Hyperion Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Cassie can tell pretty much everything about you by just observing you for a few minutes. It’s something she learned from her mother who spent some of Cassie’s childhood as a wandering gypsy fortune teller. Cassie learned how to read people at an early age but it didn’t take much. Her talent comes naturally. That’s what makes her an excellent prospect for FBI profiling. She’s a Natural.
Recruited by the FBI, Cassie, at the ripe old age of seventeen, is moved into a house full of other teenagers who all have similar qualities. Now they’re in training to be FBI specialists in their fields – each one training in their particular area of expertise. They only work on cold cases and previously solved murders for their experience until a case brings itself to their house. Literally.
Cassie’s mother was believed to be murdered many years previous. Cassie herself, stumbled onto the crime scene and can still recall it with vivid detail. When a serial killer suddenly begins showing signs of being involved with the murder of Cassie’s mother, she has no choice but to get involved.
In all honesty, I have mixed feeling about this book. When I first started reading, I was settled in for a YA adventure and was stunned to see the mind of a serial killer on the pages. I actually put the book down and walked away from it for a week or so before I went back. This book is targeted toward 12 year olds and up so I wasn’t expecting that heavy a hand in the storytelling.
However, when I went back to read again and had come to terms with the material I’d be reading, I was able to really enjoy the book. The characters are interesting and for the most part, they’re engaging. There’s a bit of romance with a twist. When you have someone who can read emotions or profile a human being with only a few minutes together, it makes typical teenage romance difficult. Throw in someone who has the instant ability to detect a lie and things get a little stranger.
With plotlines that race at a deadening pace and enough details to keep even the most avid crime fan happy, this book is a lot like Criminal Minds for teens. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you like adventure, mystery and intrigue, you’ll enjoy it. The dialogue, the plot turns and the overall storyline were more than enough to keep a reader entertained and involved.
It’s creepy. I admit to being one of the faint hearted and when I ended the book, I was really creeped out by the direction it had taken. But it stuck with me for sure. I can honestly say I’m very interested to see if Barnes decides to do anything with these characters in the future. This could be a set up for a fascinating series and as an adult, I’d be first in line to read it. I just can’t honestly recommend it for the younger teens/tweens that are listed as its target reading age. Older teens? Sure. Adults? Definitely. Good read for sure, just read with caution.