Sunday, February 22, 2015

Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date:  November 5, 2013
Publisher:  Disney-Hyperion

Seventeen-year old Cassie is a natural reading people.  Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want.  But it's not a skill she's ever taken seriously.  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 she 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, priveleged 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.

I had some mixed feelings about this story.  On the whole I enjoyed it, but there were a few things that did bother me about it that kept me from really loving it completely.

First off, I loved the concept of the story... the idea that there are these gifted teenagers out there who are able to perceive things that others can't...i.e...Cassie's ability to read people, another's ability to detect lies, etc...  I did wish, however, that there had been some explanation for how they received these abilities, and no reason was ever given as to whether this is a paranormal story, if these teens are just mentally mutated, or if they have natural gifts of intuition that are just more highly developed than that of other people. But overall, this lack of explanation didn't really detract from my enjoyment.

I had a little trouble believing that the FBI would enlist kids to aid them, but I overlooked that as well because if you have a group of people with paranormal abilities/mutated abilities/overly developed natural gifts, why wouldn't you use them to help you solve crimes?  So when the teenagers got into their work, it was really fascinating.  Especially the fact that Cassie will be investigating her own mother's murder.

I did enjoy the characters themselves very much, although I could have done without the love triangle.  To me, it was just unnecessary drama.  I would have preferred that the romance focus exclusively on the one guy she ends up with.  I felt like having another guy involved in there just complicated things in a way that was trivial at best. That being said, I did love the romance between Cassie and her ultimate choice guy.  I loved him!

The last portion of the book was my favorite due to the twists and surprise killer.  I have to admit the author really had me going on that one.  I tried to predict the killer and was shockingly wrong.  So I have to give kudos there.  Very well done.

Overall, the story was a good one...entertaining, with a good premise and a great, shocking ending.  It gave us, as readers, closure.  It seemed as if this was a standalone book, which was really refreshing in this world of trilogies.  I'd recommend the book for a good distracting, enjoyable read.

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