Title: Killer Instinct
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Naturals #2
Genre: Teen Fiction
Rating: 5/5 stars!
The Overview: Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance. But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?
Considering that The Naturals was my favorite YA book of 2013, you can understand why I was so concerned Killer Instinct wouldn’t live up to my expectations. After all, the first book BLEW ME AWAY and it seemed like two outstanding, well-crafted novels in a row might be just too much to ask. So imagine my delight when I settled in to binge read Killer Instinct and it was just as AMAZEBALLS as the first one!
Both books in the series have been consistent with these attributes: fantastic characters who I want to learn more about with every passing page, an excellent and perfectly creepy perspective that takes you into the mind of the killer, a cool concept for a plot that is complex without being convoluted, and really interesting applications for each of these teenagers’ talents (which is my favorite element – it’s really neat to see how an analyzer, a statistician, an emotion reader, and a lie detector pull together their skills to solve crimes).
Barnes puts together these complex mysteries that somehow make you feel like your part of the story. I learned from The Naturals that, as far as suspects go, every character is fair game. It made the story interactive in a way, because with every new character introduced or new situation unveiled, I immediately had to reevaluate what I knew up to that point to try to figure out “whodunit.” It was written so well that I was literally suspicious about everyone! It makes these books so much more fun to read because I felt involved in trying to figure out who the killer was throughout both entire novels. The difference for this book is, while last time I was a casual detective, this time I was in full-blown Sherlock Holmes mode! It was so much fun to read, I can hardly stand it.
Part of why I think I enjoyed it so much is that I don’t get to utilize my freakishly honed detective skills very often (I may be exaggerating a little bit). You see, I’ve always been fascinated with shows like Criminal Minds, and love learning how crimes are solved, but I am usually too squeamish to actually sit down and watch them… pathetic, I know. In any case, The Naturals series provided all the same crime solving awesomeness, but without the gore (the visual stuff, anyway. I can totally handle the written stuff).
Overall, I think I’m in love… These books are self-contained mysteries, but there’s an overall arc growing between them that makes me want to pee myself with excitement over what the next novel might bring. I can’t believe I have to wait a whole year to see what happens next – this is seriously the biggest woe us book-lovers have to deal with, isn’t it? I can tell you one thing though, it will be well worth the wait!
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