Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynne Barnes

The first book in a new series by Jennifer Lynne Barnes, The Naturals is reminiscent of crime shows such as Criminal Minds or Sherlock. Except, instead of seasoned adult profilers, the cast is made up of emotionally scarred teens. Cassie Hobbes is the protagonist, and she isn't your typical teenager. Her mother, a scam artist who masqueraded as a psychic, helped her to develop her natural ability of reading people, to the point where she can tell you almost anything you need to know about a person before they ever open their mouth.

When her mother goes missing, she is forced onto a family she had never met and with whom she can't quite connect with. Cassie catches the eye of an FBI agent who wants to recruit her for his Naturals program, a group of teens with extraordinary abilities much like Cassie's. Feeling like a burden on her new family, she decides to take him up on his offer and move into the house with the other Naturals.

At her new home Cassie meets a cast of characters, each one more bizarre than the next. First, there is Michael, a cute boy who has the ability to read emotions from anyone, no matter how skillfully they try to cover them. Then there is Dean, whose talents mirror her own, but his aloof attitude scares most people off. Sloane, a young girl with a seeming eidetic and an addiction to coffee, is the resident kleptomaniac. And then there is Lia, a human lie detector who is incredibly skilled at spinning her own lies.

Cassie has to figure out how to navigate this new world and the people in it if she wants to be a part of te new program and have a shot at finding out what happened to her mother. When a serial killer shows up and the clues all start to point to Cassie being involved somehow, the Naturals have to band together to keep each other alive and put away the dangerous killer.

The storyline for The Naturals is fun and very fast-paced, and there are plenty of twists to keep you guessing until the end. The characters have a great chemistry with each other, and it's interesting to watch their camaraderie grow and change as the story goes along.

Romance-wise, there is quite a bit to be desired. As this is the first book in a series, the Cassie/Dean/Michael love triangle was nowhere near settled. In fact, the romance seems to take center stage in all of the kid's discussions over the matter, but the romantic plot hardly advances any at all.

All in all, this is a quick read, something fun that might surprise you in the end. Hopefully the second book picks up the same fast-paced and mysterious thread and runs with it. The sequel, Killer Instinct, is set to be released on November 4, 2014.

3 Stars 
Similar Books: Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson, Heist Society by Ally Carter, Hunting Lila by Sarah Alderson.

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