Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
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.
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:
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.