Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: Naturals #1 (of more, I hope!)
Genre: Teen Mystery
Rating: 5/5 stars!
The Overview: 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.
I want to start out by saying that I loved this book. It was intense, fast-paced, fascinating, and totally absorbing. In short, it had everything I’d hoped to find in a novel but with that extra-special something that turned it from great to phenomenal! It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, and was definitely a “drop everything until you finish it” type of read. I plan on recommending it as often as I can, and here are a few reasons why:
Concept: this was such a cool book! In a market flooded with protagonists sporting supernatural abilities, we forget sometimes how strong people can be without them. These teens can solve crimes by using different elements of observation and analysis, and I found the process by which they did this entirely fascinating. What’s more, there were different types of analyzers – the main character could predict with great accuracy by observing people’s personalities and tendencies, while other characters did things like analyzing emotion, detect lies, and (my favorite) utilize statistics and probability. They fine-tune all their abilities at a miniature FBI boarding school through case studies and simulations. I’ll say it again, it was fascinating!
Story: The book was composed brilliantly. It was essentially a murder mystery that took place over the course of a particular serial killer’s series of crimes. Every so often, we’d get a glimpse into the killer’s mind which majorly creeped me out and made the whole story more intense. I often see writers struggle to convey a well-rounded villain, especially when they’re presented in short snippets before each chapter. Barnes is one of the few I’ve read to not only nailed the creepy, believable villain part but did it without losing any momentum for the story.
Writing: there’s so many elements about the novel that I found clever, even aside from the things and I talked about above. Even the way the story was composed was brilliant – there were so many elements you could tell it took a lot of time and thought, and it came together seamlessly. Every scene had a purpose and added to the snowballing journey to one heck of an ending. I got so involved that I held my breath in places. What’s more, although I had dozens of theories, I never really knew for sure “who did it” until the end.
Overall, this has become one of my favorite books ever and I can see myself reading it over and over again in the future (even though I already know who the murderer is). I’m also planning on reading everything this author has published, as she’s quickly become one of my new favorites!
Recommended Reading: I’m going to suggest this one to any customer looking for their next great read in the teen department (heck, I’ll probably bring it up to people browsing in mystery and fiction too because it’s one of those books that has potential for wide audience appeal). I’ll especially be on the lookout for anybody who loves mysteries and shows like NCIS and Criminal Minds (or to people like me who have always been fascinated by those shows but are too squeamish to watch them). I can’t wait to talk to other readers who loved it to!
Other books you might like:
Days after finishing this awesome book, I was lucky enough to meet the author at the Vegas Valley Book Festival. She was awesome – taking the time to talk to me without being freaked out by what I can only call my “fangirl” moment. It was truly a privilege to meet her and she even signed the pile of books I brought her –including a beautiful new hardcover of The Naturals. And guess what?
I got one for you!
Just click the link below and enter the rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win! Some rules apply:
- The contest will run for two weeks (until November 21st) and I will be emailing the randomly picked winner shortly thereafter. If the winner doesn’t respond to my email within 48 hours, I’ll pick a new one.
- Please be honest – I will disqualify all your entries if you mark something you haven’t done.
- I will be shipping via UPS, and won’t be responsible for anything lost in the mail (although I will have tracking, so I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that).
I’m sorry to say that this is a US only giveaway. I recognize that a good portion of my readers are from other countries and want you to know I appreciate you just as much as my US readers… I simply cannot afford the shipping.