The Naturals

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4.7
 
3.8 (3)
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The Naturals
Age Range
12+
Release Date
November 05, 2013
ISBN
978-1423168232
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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. Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms close. 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.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Profilers beware.
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
I was actually quite surprised by how much I enjoyed The Naturals. In the world of YA, it is not too often that I get to read a straight-laced mystery. As a big fan of Criminal Minds, I was really interested to see how Jennifer Lynn Barnes would take on the world of profilers. Cassie's abilities are natural, but were honed from years of reading crowds as her mother preformed as a "psychic". When she joins The Naturals - a secret program run by the FBI in order to train teenagers with special gifts - she is finally able to put those talents to use. The story reads very much like an intense episode of Criminal Minds and Barnes does not shy away from the more graphic aspects. The narration includes interludes spoken from the mind of the serial killer that the team is chasing. These sections provide terrifying insight into the thoughts of a killer (a world that Cassie is trying to discover) and add a sense of urgency to the plot.

Since I read a great deal of YA, it is often all too easy to forsee where a plot is going. In The Naturals, however, I was actually surprised by a few of the plot twists which is certainly a refreshing change. It is also nice to see a solid mystery that doesn't rely on supernatural abilities. I will say that there are some aspects that were a little too easy and had to be taken with a grain of salt - such as ability of an untrained teenager to outsmart seasoned FBI profilers. The novel is also rather dark and there are some particularly gruesome descriptions that may be disturbing for some readers.

I found Cassie to be a little boring. Other than her abilities and being witness to her mother's murder, she is not particularly interesting. But, I did enjoy many of the other characters. Sloane, for one, was cute and quirky. She often had lines that made me smile or laugh "'This encryption is pathetic,' Sloane said. 'It's like they want me to hack their files.'" She also had a handy penchant for stealing and a less than healthy obsession with blowing things up. Lia, the human lie detector, was also a great character. She was a bit of a character chameleon and, from page to page, I was never sure which Lia I was going to get.

I will certainly be reading the next installment in this new series, but I would be even more excited if I were to learn that it would feature Sloane or Lia as main character, rather than Cassie.
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User reviews

3 reviews

Overall rating 
 
3.8
Plot 
 
4.0  (3)
Characters 
 
3.7  (3)
Writing Style 
 
3.7  (3)
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Love!
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
This book was way beyond my normal reading zone, and I am SO glad I read it. Seriously. It was creep-tastic!

It will be hard for me to review The Naturals without giving away the goods, but I'm going to do my best to tell you what I loved the most about it. In one word: surprises.

Yep, it actually surprised me. I think that's a very big deal because I usually figure out the plot of books in the first 75 pages or so. With that said, I did know where The Naturals was headed but it still ended up being a surprise. I was in the ball park, but my glove was not on. Obviously the big reveal at the end left me saying "holy crap" but it wasn't the only surprise along the way. There were several little twists that made me stop and think for a second before continuing the story.

I absolutely loved being inside of Cassie's head. The whole concept of being a profiler working for the FBI (but being like the alpha-profiler) was very interesting and fresh for me. Maybe there are books like that out there, but I don't know about them.

My only complaint was the weird "You" chapters throughout. They were kind of weird for me. I understand the purpose behind them, but they still felt off. It just gave me the impression that they (the chapters) were trying to hard to fit in. Maybe that was just me. They did help move the plot along and give insight into what was happening on the serial killer's end of things without making the story too long.

In a nutshell, I'm glad this one made it to the Teen Read's 2014 list. It's pretty suspenseful. In fact, it kept this girl from wanting to go out to eat because I wanted to finish the book in one sitting... and to keep me from food AND my favorite restaurant is pretty huge.

If you are looking for a true page-turner, pick this up. Pronto.
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Quick and Entertaining Mystery
(Updated: July 18, 2014)
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
MY THOUGHTS
I really enjoyed reading this book, which surprised me since I wasn't actually planning on reading this book in the first place. I was actually invested in the story and breezed quickly through the book. But, I've read books like this before. There are a lot of mystery books that have either the same or very similar story line as The Naturals (the first one that comes to mind is The Body Finder series). And while I did enjoy reading this book, I can't give it a higher rating due to how the plot of the book is so common and the fact that there was a few things that were very predictable. (view spoiler)

I also have to say a few things on the romance.
You tried, romance, but you failed.
The romance of this book basically an attempt at romance, and you could tell that there was supposed to be romance, but we didn't get any romance. Sure, there was some strange kissing scenes, but there was no hint of any feelings from Cassie for either of the boys (yes, there's two, but I would not consider it a love triangle. Mostly since I don't even consider it as romance.). I also had no idea what the two guys were feeling, so the entire romance was basically a few awkward-ish kisses. That's all.
I'm glad that this book did not go the route of plot taking the back seat, while romance takes the front, but I also don't particularly like it when romance is thrown into a book for seemingly no reason. Maybe there's more to it in the next book? I don't know, but it's possible.

I know it seems that I was not a fan of this book, based on the fact that all I'm doing is complaining, but I actually did enjoy reading this book. While the romance was kind of stupid, it was only a very small part of the book. And the fact that the plot of this book is a common one did not mean that I didn't like it. There is a reason as to why I have read enough of these books that I recognize how common the plot is.
I mentioned earlier that the book was a bit predictable, and yes, that's true, but only in some ways. As with most mystery books, there is something that is, well, a mystery. In this book the mystery surround the serial killer. I had no idea who the killer was. None. When the killer was revealed I was taken completely by surprise! And I loved this! This was not a case of "oh, the killer is actually this person", but there are absolutely no clues or hints that would lead up to that person. No, there were many hints throughout the book, very subtle ones that are not obvious until you know who the killer is. Looking back, I could the genius in this and, of course, I loved the fact that the book took me by surprise.

IN CONCLUSION
This is a very quick read, barely 300 pages, and the story is when that you can quickly breeze through. It's a bit of a common serial killer mystery, which I have seen many times before, but while predictable at times, the book will take you by surprise. The "romance" is kind of unnecessary. In fact, I hesitate to call it a romance.
But, all in all. I did like this book. It was very entertaining and I definitely plan on reading the next book in the series!
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Compelling with a Twist
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
I’ve always found the ability to profile and read body language, manerisms, and nonverbal clues interesting. So interesting, in fact, that I took a class in nonverbal communications. After that class, I never particularly felt that being a “Natural” would be that great–I don’t know, being a human lie detector sounds great at first, but I’m not sure I would actually like the way that could play out in life. All this made me incredibly interested in reading The Naturals, and I’m glad I did.

On the whole, I thought The Naturals was an engaging story. It was basically a murder mystery, but the way Barnes approaches crime-solving is really what makes this one stand out a bit. The plot itself wasn’t anything new, in my opinion, and nor were the characters. I did have some problems with the characterization, which I’ll get to, but it didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the story too much.

The Naturals was one of those books that made me catch my breath and want to figure out the “Who’s the murderer?” question as soon as possible. The book isn’t exceptionally gory or scary, but it did get pretty up-close and personal to some crime scenes, which I sometimes have trouble with. It wasn’t always easy to read, but it wasn’t too bloody or gory. I might have caught my breath a few times, but I never felt the need to put the book down or walk away.

The one thing that set The Naturals apart from just another murder mystery is definitely the addition of the “Naturals”–the teenagers who have exceptional affinities for being able to read people. It was so interesting to read about these teenagers, and I thought Barnes did a pretty good job of getting inside their heads and how they viewed the people around them. The one thing I did have trouble with, though, as far as these natural abilities go, as that they’re all so. . . separate, from each other. Let me try to explain.

So one of the boys who is part of the Naturals program is a natural “mood reader”. He can tell how people are feeling based upon their stance, their gestures, and their facial expressions. Okay, fair enough. But then there’s another character, Lia. She’s the ever-popular “mean” girl character personified(with, you know, bits of humanity strewn in), and is a natural lie-detector. People are complex, and I have trouble believing someone who is a natural at moods & expressions wouldn’t also be able to deal with, say, liars. Also, if Lia is able to detect when people is lying, there should be things that tip her off–most likely the same things that tip the human mood reader off. And that was part of the book I could never quite buy in to.

The other main thing that made The Naturals move down in the ratings was way each of the teenagers were characterized. I thought Cassie’s story was nothing out of the box, which weakened the story quite a bit because I couldn’t feel any depth to her emotions. Everything was clinical, but The Naturals wasn’t written in a way that made me believe it was SUPPOSE to be clinical, so it ended up feeling like an accident. And Michael and Dean are decent enough characters, but they don’t really add anything new. They’re just kind of. . . there.

That being said, I did enjoy the book for it’s fast-paced action. I did NOT see the plot twist coming, which always gets a thumbs-up from me. I like being surprised and I feel like it rarely happens, so it’s always fun when a book manages to do just that. I think readers who like crime mysteries and teenagers with abilities will enjoy The Naturals.

Final Impression: I had some problems with The Naturals as far as some of the logic presented in the book as well as some of the characterization–it just never felt very deep to me–but I did enjoy the story. Taking away the naturals program would make this book just another murder mystery, but the addition of the naturals made it different from anything I’d ever read.
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