Title: The Naturals
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Released: 7th November 2013
Rating: 3 stars
Cassie Hobbs doesn't think anything of her ability to read people. It's just always been something she does, without even having to really think about it. That's until she gets hired by the FBI to train as a profiler and help solve cold cases. Nor is she the only one - this is a programme that consists of Naturals, people - teens - particularly adept at a certain skill. At first this brings a sense of achievement and purpose, but that soon changes to simple danger. Somewhere out there is a new serial killer who's getting uncomfortably close to home...and Cassie in particular. The Naturals aren't simply solving cases anymore. They have to survive this one.
The Naturals was generally an enjoyable read. Jennifer Lynn Barnes has written a novel both easy to read and engaging, seeming to move effortlessly from humour to downright creepiness. Such a compelling mix couldn't fail to keep me glued to the pages. Though I knew this to be a thriller, there have been very few books that have truly disturbed me, even those claiming to be horror, making the darker parts of the book even easier to appreciate. Those laugh-out-loud moments, too, were a delightful aspect, perhaps not something you'd expect with murder as a key theme. Speaking of murder...Did anyone else see that ending coming? I didn't. All my theories, all my guesses...every one of them were wrong. This author really does know how to write a thriller. What does bother me, however, is that I still don't know whether this is meant to be a thriller pure and simple, or whether this has an element of the paranormal. Are the Naturals' gifts otherworldly, or simply stronger versions of otherwise perfectly regular abilities?
My thoughts on the characters are mixed. On the one hand, they're likeable - or at least, the one who you're supposed to like are - and somewhat interesting, especially in terms of their abilities. On the other, I'm not sure how memorable they are. Abilities aside, there's nothing in particular that makes them stand out. Then, of course, there's the love triangle. Immediately I felt exasperated. Having said that, I do think there is potential for this one. I like Cassie and I like Michael, and I think I may favour him as a love interest. The relationship between Cassie and Dean I feel could be something more complex. I'm hoping that Barnes will pull this out of a triangle and make something more interesting out of it, but we shall have to see.
Despite its flaws, I did like The Naturals, and I suspect it's a book easier to enjoy in the moment. Looking back on it now and thinking of other books I've read it may perhaps not be amazing, but nevertheless it has very appealing qualities, and I look forward to entering this world again.