The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

October 28th, 2013 Kimberly Review 83 Comments

28th Oct
The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Naturals
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Genres: Crime Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

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.

As a fan of Criminal Minds, CSI and the like, I slipped right into the Jennifer Lynn Barnes newest novel, The Naturals. She weaves a tale of serial murders, cold cases and young teens with natural abilities creating a unique tale that was both fun and suspenseful. Mini-review: different, suspenseful and engaging.

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is living with her estranged father’s Italian family after the murder of her mother five years ago. While she knows they love her, she just doesn’t fit in with her red hair and unique ability to read people. She longs for the day when she turns eighteen and can be out from under their watchful gaze. When a handsome, young man enters the diner where she works and leaves a card from the FBI telling her to contact them she is immediately curious. Is this about her mother’s unsolved murder? Why did a boy her age drop it off? Cassie of course calls and is invited to join the program for teens that show natural abilities that would be of benefit in solving cold cases. The tale that unfolds was different with a few twists that made for an exciting read.

The teens reside in an old Victorian home outside, Washington D.C. under the tutelage of two FBI agents. Cassie is remarkable for her talent but is also vulnerable and insecure making her an interesting character. She tends to be a loner, and while we see some growth, there is room for improvement. Michael has the ability to read emotions, he is charismatic and takes a romantic interest in Cassie. Lia is snarky and can tell when a person is lying. She will call you on and has an “in your face” personality. I would like to know her backstory. Cassie’s roommate Sloane is a walking encyclopedia of statistics and I found her to be fascinating, especially after a cup of coffee. Dean is a natural profiler like Cassie and is dark and brooding. He is the most fleshed out, and yet I wanted more. There is a mini-love triangle, but it is secondary to the plot, and while interesting never really develops.

The Naturals was predictable, at times a little unrealistic and the characters weren’t as fleshed out as I would have liked, but the profiling and cold cases made this an engaging read and kept me turning the pages. I am a cold case, Criminal Minds junkie who finds serial killers and their profiles fascinating. I know creepy, right? I found Barnes plot in this respect intriguing. I liked the concept of a school for talented young people to prepare them for a career in the FBI. The academy was interesting, as was the training assignments the character’s engaged in. We are also privy to a serial killer’s thought as he murders a series of women. Call me sick, but I loved this aspect. Cassie cracked the case but not quite, leaving some interesting twists and reveals. Despite wanting more depth, and plausibility issues I can honestly say that I enjoyed this. It is my hope that we see more of the Naturals but that the author further develops the characters, and adds depth to the world-building and situations.

Fans of profiling, Criminal Minds, CSI and crime novels, will enjoy The Naturals. While I wanted more depth and world-building the concept of profiling for the FBI, and the psychological mystery made this a fun read. I would gladly revisit these characters again.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

83 Responses to “The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes”

  1. Ann

    Yes, I find it extremely interesting. I like to watch ID shows on Netflix, too! Can’t get enough of them.

  2. Bonnie Hilligoss

    I love mysteries/crime books and shows, but I read and watch for the enjoyment and don’t think too much about ‘who did it’ unless it just slaps me in the face. I just go along for the ride and some added paramormal always makes it more interesting! Thank you for the giveaway!!

  3. Sam

    I love the idea of this. It kind of reminds me of X-Men: First Class in a way (I know, I know) and I’m a huge fan of this genre, so I can’t wait to get my hands on it. 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I love the X-men. This was a good read, and I loved the profiling 🙂 Good luck!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I loved the profiling in this and hope you get a chance to read it 🙂

  4. Tanya

    I love crime, thriller, mystery or suspense novels. I think I would enjoy this, thanks for sharing your thoughts, the good and the bad.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      thanks Tanya, I loved the profiler aspect and hope we see more in the next novel.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really enjoyed the profiler aspect of this, and hope the next book is fleshed out more.

  5. Jayne

    Yes I totally am a mystery and crime junkie! The only thing is, I haven’t found a good mystery to read! I’m really looking forward to reading The Naturals, and I loved your review. I think the last time I truly enjoyed a good mystery was the Nancy Drew series many years ago!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I loved Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys and Agatha Christy novels. Thanks Jayne and good luck 🙂

  6. Berls

    I’m on the fence with this one. I love the concept and I really think I would like the MC. But I’ve never been a fan of police shows like CSI, so IDK. You’re review makes me want to give it a shot at least!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Ooo the profiling was my favorite part..if you like Criminal Minds that is what it like 🙂

  7. Vanessa

    I haven’t read a criminal mystery book in such a long time! i want to read this so bad now. thanks for the giveaway, your awesome !

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This was a fun read, and I love criminal mysteries. Good luck Vanessa!

  8. Cyn

    Great review, I ended giving it 3.5 stars too (my review) I definitely liked the forensic part, but yeah the teen drama I didn’t care as much for. I’ll probably still end up reading the next book thought haha.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I will read more too Cyn, because the parts I liked were enjoyable. I am going to hope things improve for book two.

  9. aurian

    nice review Kimba, I would like to read it. Do they go to “normal” school and have other classes for their future jobs?

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Hmm, I know the protagonist was a senior and they had classes regarding training.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I liked it, you know me I wanted more, but I am eager to try the next one.

  10. Lauren

    I’m also a Criminal Minds/cold case junkie, so this sounds like a book I’d enjoy. It’s a shame it was predictable and that the characters weren’t as fleshed out as you would have liked, but still I’m glad you enjoyed it overall. Lovely review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am really hoping the next book digs deeper with the profiling and fleshes out the characters more, but this was an enjoyable read.

  11. Kristen

    I just finished reading this one recently and really enjoyed it too. I agree a good amount was unrealistic but I felt it was pretty easy to suspend disbelief. I am optimistic that the next in the series will get deeper (hopefully) into the profiling. I wanted less love triangle and more profiling! great review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I totally agree more profiling too, and we can skip the romance or make it a side dish. I am hoping the next book is deeper too.

  12. Michelle

    I really like the idea and concept of this one, though it is a little disappointing to hear that the characters were lacking a bit. I look forward to trying this one out.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It was solid read, and had moments of awesomeness, it just needed more depth, at least for me.

  13. Jeann

    Sounds really interesting Kimba! I haven’t heard promising things about this one but the profiling does sound really fascinating.

  14. Heidi

    I find serial killers and all the psychological reasons fascinating. I have read another Barnes book and liked it. I might have to give this a whirl.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This was a fun read, and parts were wonderful, I hope you read it, and I am hoping we get more.

  15. Jenny

    “We are also privy to a serial killer’s thought as he murders a series of women. Call me sick, but I loved this aspect.”

    I’m the same way Kim! I’m just sort of horrifyingly fascinated by a killer’s POV and I love when we get a peek at the innerworkings of their minds. So creepy:) Despite the predictability, this sounds like a solid read overall!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This was a solid read, I of course wanted more depth, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. I am so glad to hear I am not alone in my fascination with the demented mind of a serial killer.

  16. Trish

    Great review Kim. I think I enjoyed it a little bit more than you did (4 stars from me) but I agree the characters were a bit underdeveloped. I loved the profiling though, it was a real highlight for me.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      That was totally my favorite part too, and I would have loved more of it. I am really hoping the next book digs deeper.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I love watching the reruns at bedtime or on rainy afternoons 🙂 I hope you enjoy this Ellen 🙂

  17. Candace

    I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about this one. I like the sound of it but I’m just not feeling a strong urge to read it. I think all the negative things I’ve read have scared me off. I’m glad that you still managed to mostly enjoy it though!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I did enjoy it, but it could have been mind-blowing and I wanted more.

  18. Dani

    I have this on my list to read because I have read Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ other books and I just loved them! Thanks for the giveaway!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Good luck and I bet your daughter would like this one too 🙂

  19. Nick

    It’s such a shame that the characters weren’t as well fleshed-out as you hoped so. You know, Kim, I’ve read a lot of YA crime thriller books, and I always find them predictable. I have yet to read a YA crime book that isn’t. There is something wrong with that. Or it’s maybe because we read too much adult crime books and know exactly what to look for!
    Great review, Kim. I will check this one out definitely despite the issues you mentioned.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I think the latter may be true Nick, I love adult crime thrillers. This was a good read, but I wanted more and I know it is possible in YA to get that.

  20. Angie F.

    I am not a crime/mystery junkie, but this one does sound fun! I am a sucker for books that involved special schools though. 😛

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This was a fun read, lighter then I wanted but the kids were cool.

  21. Cindi Clubbs

    Yes, I am a crime junkie. True crime if it’s not too disturbing—like with children. I think I like reading it to learn the darker side of people and how to avoid those pitfalls.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I love these types of books too, and read a lot of adult crime thrillers, this was a fun read.

  22. Giselle

    Yep we felt about the same with this one. I really enjoyed the profiling part but the characters were not as fleshed out as I was hoping and I also wanted more answers about those “talents” of theirs. Great review! 🙂

  23. kindlemom1

    I loved that aspect of the book too and while I agree that it was fascinating it was super creepy too that they had to “think” like the killers. Dean was the most creepy when he did it, I don’t know if it was because of his family’s background or just his personality but, yeah, I was sure about him at times.

    Great review Kim. 🙂

  24. Mary

    Okay. Now, I’ve read a good, bad and meh review for this book — and I have to read it, so I can see where I fall. I like the academy aspect and that she’s a good people-reader. Plus, I do like that eerie glimpse into the killer’s brain. I think this one might be up next!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This was a good read Mary, it just could have been a blow your mind read if it were fleshed out more. Enjoy and I look forward to seeing where you fall. I haven’t read any bad reviews on this yet.

  25. Renu

    Ooh, this definitely sounds like a fun read. I am huge fan of shows like Criminal Mind, CSI, etc! They are my guilty pleasure. Love the cover for the book, too. Will be picking it up for sure when it’s released. ^^

    Great review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      This was still an enjoyable read, and I am hoping the next book has more depth.

  26. Jenea

    I think it is hard to sometimes read the crime books, when we watch so much of it on tv, almost like we know to expect next. I was a sheriff for almost 7 years, so I find it hard for that reason too. But I do have this one, and I guess I will give it a go because it sounds like it does has some good qualities to it. Great review.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Oh this was fun, but it was lighter then I wanted. Wow as a sheriff, you must pick up on the little errors. I love when crime fiction is written by former law enforcement etc.

  27. Tanja

    I’ve got a theory Kim! We (aka people who watch criminal shows a lot) can hardly be surprised while reading criminal books. Mostly they are too predictable for me as I can see this one was for you. I like the idea and everything but predictability is not something I enjoy. Too bad you didn’t enjoy this one as much. Great review Kim 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It was fun, I just wanted more depth and this turned out to be lighter.

  28. Nara

    I have to say that I’m slightly confused as to why you only gave it three stars (err…make that three cups of coffee). Your review seems only to be full of praise! Although I suppose underdeveloped characters may be reason enough 🙂 I guess she might not have revealed the back stories and such to give more room to reveal things in sequels though!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Nara this was a solid read and a three is a good rating. The tale was predictable, the characters lacked depth and the back-story. The world could have been developed more. I did sing praises because despite all that, it was still an engaging tale, but it could have been a spectacular tale. I still recommend it, and hope we see more.

      • Nara

        Ah it was a bit silly of me to assume that your rating system was the same as mine 😛 My bad haha.
        But it does sound interesting enough despite the predictability and underdeveloped characters 🙂

        • kimbacaffeinate

          No problem, it was interesting, and one I recommend..I just wanted more..LOL Thanks Nara 🙂

  29. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I am a fan of all those series, and I’m kind of sad that the characters were a bit underdeveloped because I have a feeling this could have been a spectacular read. But even as it is, I’ll still read it because it sounds like so much fun. So what if it’s a bit predictable? Most things are these days. 🙂
    Great review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Oh I totally recommend reading it, and while there is room for improvement, it was an engaging and entertaining read.

  30. DannyBookworm

    oh we are Review Twins today!! And I’m a little sad you didn’t like it more. But, yes I get that the characters could have been a little more deveopled. Especially since she introduced so many interesting kids which all had some issues to work through.
    But I really liked this book!! I think there was a great dynamic between Dean and Cassie!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Twins 😉 This was a solid and enjoyable read I just wanted more depth from the plots and characters but like you I had a blast reading it.