Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Killer Instinct ~ Jennifer Lynn Barnes (earc) review [@jenlynnbarnes @disneyhyperion]

Killer Instinct (The Naturals #2)
Disney Hyperion
November 4, 2014
368 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depo/or Amazon

** review of The Naturals **

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

With her trademark wit, brilliant plotting, and twists that no one will see coming, Jennifer Lynn Barnes will keep readers on the edge of their seats (and looking over their shoulders) as they race through the pages of this thrilling novel.

 Killer Instinct is a great sequel to last year's The Naturals. In The Naturals we met Cassie and the other teens, were introduced to the program they are a part of and saw how what that is supposed to entail isn't always all that it does. Now they're back and still recovering from the events of the first book when another case comes their way.

It can be a bit hard, when starting Killer Instinct to remember how each character is a part of the story, what their ability is and what happened with them in the first book. I quite like, though, that there isn't some big information dump right at the start of the book. As you read, it's easier to recall things about the first book's plot and about the characters. Cassie also remembers things (from that first book) as they're relevant to the story. It is a great way to refresh readers' memories of the first book while also furthering the current tale.

The Naturals really are a group now. They still have their issues, with each other and themselves, but they're a unit now, too. That they are not only trying to unravel a murder case, but that it is one where the crimes of Dean's serial killer father are being copied works well.

Now that we know what they can do - recognize lies, interpret facial expressions, profile people, find facts - and about the program, we are able to learn more about the characters. What each character can do and their past (secret or not) are included so well and make for a great story. Understanding a person's motivation, knowing if someone's lying and recognizing their emotions, whether nor not they do are things that impact not only their ability to solve cases but their interactions with each other.

The look we get into the characters, the small glimpses of their past and how they're really learning to work with each other, how they're feeling out where they fit with everyone else, makes this a fantastic novel. Not only is their the thrilling mystery side of the story - which is full of twists and turns that are unexpected but also so logical - that will keep you guessing, there is great character development as well.

Killer Instinct will leave readers satisfied on all fronts.

(I need to mention that Barnes does kill one of my favorite characters . . . though I can all but promise you it's not what you're thinking*.)

*Don't believe me? Fine, I'll explain: it's a character with the same name - first and last - of the MC from another series

review copy received, thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

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