Monday, November 11, 2013

Book Review: The Naturals

The Naturals
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Disney-Hyperion
Source: ARC from Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley
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.

Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

The Naturals is one of the rare cases where I felt detached from the protagonist but still ended up enjoying the story as a whole. Cassie isn’t the most impressive character out there. She didn’t leave much impression on me, and it doesn’t help that her voice tends to lean more on the monotonous side for the most part of the story. Even when she’s reliving the murder of her mother and in all the other scenes where she’s supposed to appear sympathetic, I still couldn’t feel her. I didn’t see anything remarkable about her character either, except that she is a character profiler. If there is one thing I enjoyed greatly about her, it is her ability to read people’s emotions based on the simplest of gestures and to be able to put herself in the shoes of a serial killer, follow their train of thoughts and guess what their next action will be.

Unlike the main character, the side characters in The Naturals are distinctive and it was entertaining to see how each personality handles the same situation. Lia and Sloane are fun characters and it sucks that I felt more for them than I did with Cassie. Lia is the bitchy type with the knack for lying and identifying if a person is lying. Sloane is the mild-mannered one who knows way too much about statistics. She often sprouts random statistical facts when she’s nervous and gets hyper when she ingests caffeine. Sloane appears to be the most innocent one of the bunch, but enough time with her will tell you otherwise. She has several tricks up her sleeve that she continues to pull all throughout the story. Dean and Michael are quite entertaining too in their distracting way that’s always full of manly-tension. They are the opposite of the other. Michael is the flirty type who is exceedingly confident while Dean is the quiet type who tends to isolate himself.

One of the things that caught me off guard about The Naturals is the love triangle. The summary already suggests it, but I don’t remember. I probably didn’t read it as thoroughly as I thought. I have a great dislike for love triangles and despite my unfeeling toward Cassie, I can’t help but be distracted by it. It also makes my brain ache thinking who Cassie might end up with because I'm a romance junkie regardless of my feelings for a character and I stress myself over things like that. It doesn't help that the boys are neither ahead of the other when it comes to Cassie's affection. Needless to say, this is my least favorite part of the book.

But despite the shortcomings, what ultimately redeemed this story for me is the gifts the characters have. I have not read a book with the likes of it, so I was pleased with Barnes’s The Naturals. Knowing how a serial killer’s mind works is both horrifying and spellbinding. The mystery of the killer is something I can’t comment on though, because I peeked at the last few pages before actually reading this and accidentally saw who the killer is however, in spite of that, Barnes still managed to surprise me.

The Naturals is a promising start to a (supernatural?) series and I would love to read more about character profiling as well as the other gifts the characters have, but hopefully we can get rid of the love triangle in the next book.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Disclosure: This e-galley was received from the publisher (Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest opinion. No compensation was received for making this review.

13 comments:

  1. This sounds like a fun series! It's always interesting to me when you find that a main character is bland but you end up loving the secondary characters, though--it seems so counter-intuitive. I'm glad you enjoyed the book enough to keep going with the series, though. I've heard good things about this author but haven't had a chance to check out any of her books quite yet.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. The problem with that is the side characters don't get as much spotlight as I want them to. Hope you get to read Barne's books soon, Wendy!

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  2. It's a shame whenever the main character isn't as great as the rest of the other ones, but it still sounds like a pretty good book. I might like it.

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    1. If only the side characters were given more spotlight, I would've been plenty happy with it. And yes, it is good book with an interesting mystery. I hope you like it!

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  3. I've read a couple of books by this author before and ended up giving them similar ratings. She has a writing style that works well enough for me, but I never seem to be able to invest 100%. Still, I have a copy of this, and although I'm dreading the thought of a love triangle, I'll probably get around to it eventually. Lovely review, Chel! I found it really helpful. :)

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    1. At your service, Miss! Lol. This is my first book from the author so I don't know about that. I've heard so many good things about her Raised by Wolves though. Hope you get around to it soon, Sam!

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  4. I've been curious about this title. I have to admit, I'm also not a big fan of triangles, if I get emotionally involved, and it doesn't go my way I always have a hard time.
    I'll keep it in the "for consideration pile"
    Thank you, good job!

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    1. Ohh I like the sound of "for consideration pile" since I have a lot of books to consider before reading. ;p I feel you. I get depressed when my OTP fails. There's this one series I was enjoying reading but I totally abandoned it when I found out that my OTP didn't end up together.

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  5. This definitely feels like a cross between Elementary (or Sherlock Holmes) and Marvel's Agents of SHIELD. Yep...I'm a tv junkie haha. It sounds so intriguing though, and the profiling thing is awesome - but when I think about it, being able to read everyone so easily also has its downsides.

    I personally don't mind love triangles, but if it overtakes the actual story, then I wouldn't be impressed either. The synopsis doesn't exactly hint all that much on the romance, so it's understandable that you didn't realise there was going to be a triangle.

    And the mystery sounds so intriguing! This sounds like an awesome book, I think I'll give it a go soon! Thanks for the awesome review Chel! xx

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    1. That's so true! But I'd still grab that power if given the chance.

      Really? How do you do that? I wish I don't get attached to my OTP's real hard. It's a pain when they don't get together in the end.

      Hope you enjoy it, Joy!

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  6. I love the sound of Sloane! Cute but brilliant side characters are awesome. Like Liz from Gallagher girls.

    Terrific review Chel. Sad that the main was so bland. Like your word "unfeeling". I constantly want to quickly read the results and sometimes find the truth before finishing. Little irritating.

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    1. Sloane is my favorite character here, actually. Haven't read Gallagher Girls yet but if Liz is anything like Sloane then it might be awesome.

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  7. Yeah, I was not a fan of the romance in this one! But, it was suspenseful and I liked the characters, especially the girls.

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