The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is essentially, as Ally Carter blurbs it “Criminal minds for the YA audience”. Though in hindsight, it is probably dumbed down just a little bit and is a little juvenile. However, not a bad thing for it’s intended audience. It fits. I found this story, griping, addictive and intriguing and I was flying through the pages trying to figure out what would happen next.
The Naturals is about a group of teens who help the FBI solve crimes with their ‘abilities’. Cassie and Dean are natural profilers, Lia is pretty much a human lie detector, Michael can read emotions and Sloane is statistician but is basically a teenage, female Spencer Reid (who I love to death) and can spew facts/statics like nothing else. Most of the time, with a larger cast of main characters, they tend to blur together in my mind; but not these guys! All five of them stand out as their own characters and really hold their own.
I’m intrigued to continue on with the series and have each other them fleshed out; because while I loved the mysterious nature of Michael, I want more backstory on him
(even if technically he’s kind of related to my favorite characters from Ally’s GG series), he is one of my only major drawbacks from this novel. I just wanted a little bit more in order to fully care about him. The same can be said of Lia. We got a little taste of secrets both of these characters are hiding and I’m keen to figuring out exactly what they are. Sloane, my little energizer bunny on caffeine really stole the show for me. I think in this one, while she was necessary for some of the codes, secrets and clues they needed to crack, I felt like she was a comic relief kind of character in certain scenes. However, I am hopefully that she’ll grow into her own as the series progresses.
Dean and Cassie, I would say are the two characters that we get the most from. We get a lot from Dean’s past (I really just wanted to give this boy a hug, because damn). His past opened up a lot into his character and why he is the way he is. We also get a lot from Cassie; but she’s also our main character and we spend the entire book in her head. I love how snarky she is at time, she really has a fire in her that I’m curious to see if it’s going to get her into trouble; because I’m sure it will.
As for the plot of this series, I really enjoyed it. Sure at times, you do kind of have to suspend your belief just a little bit. And some things are just a little bit too convenient for my taste. I will say that I found myself skimming a lot of this novel when I found it too info dumpy. All the terminology I know from my vast knowledge of Criminal Minds and other crime shows, so I skipped a lot of that. However, it didn’t distract from my overall enjoyment of this book that much – but it does however cause me to dock a star.
As for the twists in this novel, some I saw coming and some I didn’t. Even with that, the ending confrontation definitely did have me second guessing quite a bit. That final showdown between Cassie and the killer was hands down, I think my favorite scene in the book. It was so well written, so fantastic and well done. I can’t even think what Barnes has in store in book two and I’m curious and excited to find out.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and had a lot of fun while reading it. Barnes’ storytelling is really one of her stronger aspects of this novel, definitely kept me hooked and her characters kept me entertained. If you’re looking for a fast, fun, addictive and engaging story, I would recommend picking this up.