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Book Review: The Naturals (The Naturals #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


the naturals

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.

The Naturals is a teenage version of the TV show Criminal Minds. However, a great suspension of disbelief is required to enjoy and believe it. Having done that, the book is interesting enough. It’s fast-paced with occasionally good sections, but moves too quickly after the second half. Another first person POV, it started well and though I wasn’t bothered by the narration, I didn’t feel anything either. On the one hand Cassie is a good narrator, on the other, there’s a severe lack of emotions and feelings in the entire book, from everyone. She never mentions how she feels and what she thinks with regard to emotions (other than the brief sections on kissing of course), and this makes you get a sense of detachment from her.

I don’t like love triangles and this book, and the rest of the series from the looks of it, has one. There are the two hot, intriguing boys who are instantly attractive and return the interest. As usual even the broody, silent, stay-away, mysterious one happens to be drawn to Cassie as soon as she enters. It’s a short book and the triangle took up too much space. Not Fun.

There is a lack of character development – flat, stereotypical characters despite the potential back-stories yet to come. And even though Michael and Lia are careful to keep Cassie guessing with changes in wardrobe and carriage, they still manage to be cliché.

Considering the content and length of the book, it could have done with more flesh – more activity and more interactions with substance than the surface level ones. It was apparent there are going to be more books in the future, but that doesn’t mean you give nothing.

Also, the supposed team does nothing team-like in the entire book. Even towards the end, there wasn’t enough involvement and use of abilities as there should’ve been. They don’t use all their gifts just to survive.

The most ridiculous part was who the killer turned out to be (I will admit to being surprised). That NOBODY over all those YEARS managed to suspect anything, especially when you consider that the whole team consists of Naturals. Yes, even they can be wrong, but FIVE of them? Undermines the entire premise of the book and series. And the killer’s sudden escalation in behaviour was confusing and disappointing.

Overall, the characters were the weakest part of the book which isn’t good for its health. Other than the premise, the book, though predictable, had potential. It wasn’t boring, it was underwhelming. With some more work, it could’ve been much better.