Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Naturals (Book Review)

Thursday, November 14, 2013 4:49 PM with 13 comments

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The Naturals

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Number of Pages: 304
Release Date: November 5, 2013

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.


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MY THOUGHTS:

I wanted to read this book from the minute I read that synopsis--even when the cover was just another boring blonde looking directly at her audience...and then even more so when it turned into this simple, magnificent cover with that box tied with a police ribbon bow. So curious what's inside:


Brad Pitt What s in the Box gifs 

Oh Se7en. So in love with Brad Pitt back in those days. Anywho, I was beyond excited to get my hands on this book and jumped for joy when I was approved for the ARC. Like many Americans, I have a weird fascination with serial killers. I don't watch NCIS or any of those other cop dramas, but I can watch the ID channel all the live-long day (with its fun shows like Wives with Knives and Southern Fried Homicide--how fun to get to name those shows). Plus I, you know, love reading YA--especially YA mysteries--so when I heard of this book that had teenagers with special abilities who are tapped by the FBI to solve cold cases I almost swooned. 

Was it worth my excitement? Yes and no. The Naturals is certainly an immensely readable book that I read (relatively) quickly--I'm not getting a whole lot of reading done these days due to my crazy student teaching schedule. It kept my interest the entire time and I found it to be really fun. But, this book certainly isn't changing the world. It has a triangle that I didn't love and the rhythm of the book seemed...off sometimes, although that is sometimes the case with ARCs. That's the downside of reading them over the finished book.

What I really liked was that the teens don't have special powers, they have special abilities. When I first heard of this, I was expecting mind-reading and walking through walls, but that isn't what this is. Cassie, our main character, is a natural reader. Her mother was a "fortune teller" and Cassie picked up on how to read people's body language and facial expressions. Other members of this make-shift task force know when people are lying or are especially mathematically inclined. As much as I love the X-Men, I'm glad this wasn't the X-Men.

When we first meet Cassie, she is living with her grandmother. Her father, a member of the military, is out of the country and her mother is dead, or at least assumed to be. Her mother's body was never found, but the crime scene she left behind was so bloody that the cops don't believe she could have possibly survived. When Cassie is offered a place in the program she cannot help but dream of finding her mother's killer. 

Like I said, there is a bit of a triangle. Michael is the boy who first makes contact with Cassie under orders from an agent. Cute and mysterious, Michael can "read" anybody's emotions, and is quite adept and keeping his own hidden. Dean is a natural profiler, like Cassie, he is broody and intense and simultaneously pushes and pulls Cassie, leaving her confused and, of course, completely attracted. 

I loved the idea of the special program that uses teenagers. I loved all of the characters and definitely want to read more. The novel read like an introduction to a series, and I'm assuming it is even though it doesn't say #1 behind it on Goodreads. I'm hoping its a series because even though there wasn't a cliff-hanger, it didn't feel like a complete story. I will definitely pick up the sequel if there is one as this book ended up being a lot of fun.

If you enjoy easy YA mysteries, I would definitely give this one a try. It is interesting and original, and even though I didn't love every aspect, I did enjoy it quite a bit. It is fun, fast and fresh. I'll be keeping my eye out for the next book from this author...which will hopeful be The Naturals #2.


13 comments:

  1. Glad you enjoyed this. I love the premise so I'll be reading this at some point. I'm wondering when authors will stop writing the inevitable love triangle. Oh well.

    And that movie was so disturbing, I just have to say. And Brad Pitt...still sexy and I think he's 50 or something now. :) ~Pam

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    1. It's definitely fast and fun and sometimes that's what you need. Brad is still sexy, although I have to admit that I liked him a lot less after he cheated on Jennifer Aniston and had, like, a billion kids. But back in the day--swoon! Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. I laughed out loud at your excellent gif usage. The cover has that effect on me as well. ;) I agree that the box is an improvement over the ARC cover.

    Not sure if I'll pick this one up or not. Sounds like a good one to read when you want to finish a book in one sitting. Really good review, Natalie!

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    1. It was literally the first thing I thought when I saw this cover. It is a good book when you are looking for something quick. I finished it in a few days, which is saying a lot with my current schedule. Thanks for stopping by!

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  3. OMG -- that box thing from Se7en traumatized me SO much!!!!
    I agree with you on the strengths and weaknesses of this one and yet I enjoyed it. Sometimes it's fun just to read something escapist.
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. It was traumatizing. I've seen that movie a billion times and that scene still gets me. It was a pretty fun book, but it wasn't quite what I wanted it to be. Definitely escapist, and sometimes that's what you need. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Aww, I really, really want to read this!! I've just read about five reviews of The Naturals and not one of them was a negative one! I mean, sure, some people rave about it, some are not all over the top excited, but it sounds really, really good in general! I personally don't mind triangles too much, if they're not the abosolute only reason a story keeps going :) And if the characters are great, why not? Also, almost everyone seems to love the plot and how it moves forwards, so YES, I will read this :) Thanks for the review!

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    1. I think you'd like it. It was fun and quick. I don't mind triangles all the time, but this one didn't fit the story very well. The plot is interesting and nicely paced. You should give it a try. Thanks for stopping by!

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  5. I enjoyed this one, too, but I agree with pretty much everything you said. Especially about appreciating the lack of special powers. I was pleasantly surprised by the twist at the end, I didn't see that coming. And honestly I could have done without the romance. I don't really enjoy a love triangle and I didn't think this one was anything special.

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    1. I didn't see it coming either, and I'm usually pretty good with YA mysteries. So pleasantly surprised on that front. I could have done without the romance, too. I was rooting for who she ended up with, but I was confused on how both "relationships" developed so quickly and how possessive they both got so fast. It wasn't anything special and I think the story would have been much better served just picking one of the boys to focus on...or no boys as it really wasn't the point of the story. Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. You know me, I love mysteries too. The premise behind this book sounded really good but I just didn't have the time to request and read it. I have so many other NG books that I desperately need to get to, The abilities that the kids have are really interesting and unassuming, which I love. Ugh, love triangles. I wonder if the rhythm is off in the finished copy.

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    1. Mysteries are the best. This one was pretty fun; I bet you'd enjoy it. I have so many NG books I need to get to, too. I have a hard time resisting all those pretty covers--although I have been trying to be better lately. The love triangle was definitely my least favorite part. They just get too possessive way too quickly. Way too quickly. You should give this a try though.

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  7. I haven't had the chance to read my galley of this yet, so I'm contemplating picking up the audio. Think it's worth it? I'd assume so since you're hoping for a sequel. :) I've read other books by JLB, and I always felt the same way...the story was good and interesting but maybe not as cohesive as I'd like. I was obviously willing to give her another try, though, since I did request the ARC. :P Just hope that love triangle doesn't ruin it all for me.

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Hello, there! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I read each and every one and will do my best to respond--usually on your blog instead of on mine. I will, however, always answer direct questions. Due to serious time restraints, this blog is now an award free zone, but I appreciate the thought!