November 5, 2013
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon
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.It's always been easy for Cassie to read people. While her mother used the learned skill to fake being a psychic, Cassie's only using her ability - more natural than she can explain - to read diners at her waitressing job.
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.
Until the business card from the FBI and their proposition.
Helping the FBI solve cold cases seems doable enough - and like a way to get someone working on her mother's case. They never found her body, but she's presumed dead and Cassie wants to know what happened.
Telling her Nonna that she's leaving, moving seems like it will be the hardest part of the whole ordeal until Cassie meets the other 'students.' . . Once they're part of a real, current murder case.
The Naturals has elements of The Mentalist and Kimberly Derting's The Body Finder series and is great for fans of either of those. There's a fantastic mystery/thriller story line that presents the Naturals with something that not only requires they use their abilities to solve things, while staying safe, but they also have to (try to) overcome the friction amongst themselves, to sort out their relationships.
The bits of drams in the interpersonal interactions of the characters only adds to the mystery for readers. It's difficult to know if an action, reaction is because of past prejudices or because of current evidence. It definitely adds to the intrigue without being too much drama.
The Naturals stays in the YA-thriller land, but in the same way that Barry Lyga's Jasper Dent series (I Hunt Killers and Game) does. There's blood, there's some squicky description of murders and there's getting inside a killer's head. It's not adult, but it's not YA-lite, either.
Most of the secondary characters, the Naturals, especially, are strong, well developed characters. While one of them felt weaker than the rest to me, it also, oddly, fit with the character that she was hard to get a feel for and/or connect with. The other characters had interesting backgrounds - even if they were only hinted at. I can only hope we'll get to see more of where these characters came from, who they really are in latter books.
Michael reminds me a bit of Hale from Ally Carter's Heist Society series with his secret past, but also the richness and the flirting and the honesty.
One character did get away with something that I thought was pretty horrible, that no one seemed to mind and I'm secretly (perhaps not secretly now) hoping he's called on it later.
This book is one of the few where a potential love triangle is actually okay with me. Yes, I have a preference in it. No, I don't like both of the character choices equally, but it's written well enough that I can understand the appeal of both of them. At least, sort of.
So, I appear to still heart Jennifer Lynn Barnes muchly. The Naturals is pretty magnificent; original and creative with a main character, Cassie, who helps pull you into the story from the very beginning. I am looking forward to more of these characters and this world.
thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my egalley for review