The Naturals (The Naturals #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published: 5 November 2013 by Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 304 (hardcover)
Genre/s: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
Source: Publisher for review
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.
I love a good crime mystery - and I seem to enjoy them more in Young Adult than Adult literature lately. Maybe it's just a bit of change, but I like the fact that in Young Adult books, there's usually more focus on the characters than in the adult equivalents, which tend to be more plot focused.
Having said that, The Naturals is a quick read that completely held my attention all the way through. I enjoyed the crime element, but also the fact that the characters were so diverse. Even the *cough* love triangle felt different than the normal cliche - so much so that it didn't even really irritate me the way love triangles usually do.
The Naturals has an interesting premise - being able to read people, emotions etc. is a pretty cool idea, and Barnes did a good job at getting that interest going, however it was a little overshadowed by the mystery element as the story progressed. For me, a little bit more profiling and background on why the teens had this ability would have made it a more interesting read, but perhaps more will be revealed in the next book in the series. It wasn't enough explanation for me - I like to understand this kind of stuff up front so I can then get immersed into the plot, rather than having to wait to find out more.
I also found there were a few too many characters introduced at once, and I did start to get them a little confused at certain points. As a series, there is hopefully a lot more character development to come, but although they had distinct personalities, I didn't feel like I really got to KNOW the characters and what drove them which made it difficult to remember who was who (and their abilities).
As mysteries go, The Naturals was actually quite unpredictable and I enjoyed Barnes' writing and her ability to keep the pacing even and the plot interesting. I'm going to keep an eye out for the next book in the series, because I do think the characters have a lot of potential and I'm still to find out more about their abilities.