Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Genre: thriller, mystery, romance
Age: Young Adult
Cassie is a natural profiler. After a few minutes of observing you, she can tell you if you tend to be messy or clean, which sports you prefer, how you like your eggs cooked. It’s a skill she learned from her mom, who was brutally murdered five years ago, and the murderer has yet to be found. Cassie joins a team of fellow Naturals, teens with abilities to read people, hoping that she can learn more about her skills and perfect her abilities in order to find her mother’s murderer. Of course, it’s easy to get distracted by the two cute boys on the team, the cocky, emotion-reading Michael, and brooding, glooming Dean, a profiler like her. The team manages to get themselves involved with an active case and must use their abilities to stop a serial killer.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Naturals. A lot of readers (or at least a lot of reviewers on Goodreads) seem to think that this book is about supernatural powers, but everything in it is based on real science. You can read more about what Barnes (who has a PhD in psychology) has to say about that here and here. If you plan on reading the book, I’d highly suggest reading what Barnes has to say about the science of what’s in the book to avoid any confusion such as, “Why do these people have superpowers?” It’s not magic—it’s science—which makes it way cooler.
I always love to learn something new when I read a book, even if the book is fiction. I absolutely loved learning about the abilities that the Naturals have. Cassie’s ability kind of reminds me of Shawn Spencer from Psych. He convinces people he’s psychic, but really he’s just reading the details about them, like she does (though Cassie doesn’t pretend to be psychic). I enjoyed getting to be inside her head and see how she profiles people.
Cassie is a great MC. She ultimately joins the Naturals because she hopes she can use her gift to help track down her mother’s killer. She’s never fit in with her Italian family, because she always is playing a part, trying to keep everyone happy. She joins the team, not necessarily looking for a place to fit in, but to do some good. She feels like she owes that to her mother.
The rest of the Naturals are a fun group and I enjoyed reading about their abilities as well. My favorite secondary character was Sloane, whom I like to think of as a mix between Liz from the Gallagher Girls and Parker from Leverage. She’s super smart and enjoys blowing things up and should never be given caffeine. Ever. (But she’s actually quite amusing after a cup of coffee and can easily be bribed with a cup of joe.) Lia can catch any lie (think Lie to Me) and she’s also an impulsive liar. I like the relationship she has with Dean, because she truly cares about him and tries to protect him.
Which leads us to the boys: Michael and Dean. Michael reads emotions. He uses this to his advantage and likes to be contrary. He doesn’t want people to read him, and therefore changes how he speaks, walks, acts, and dresses to fool those around him. But he’s ultimately cocky. Dean couldn’t be more opposite—he’s quiet, and therefore a bit intimidating. He also has a past that he doesn’t want to talk about which makes him different from the rest of the Naturals. It was hard for me to like him because he is such a mystery.
I really loved this book. I loved seeing how all the pieces came together, like how the serial killer’s POV came into play. As I continued to read, I could put more and more pieces of the puzzle together, and I figured a few things out before I got to the end (I felt like Rachel, who almost always correctly guesses the ending). Some things though, nope. Didn’t guess.
I’m definitely looking forward to the next book. I cant wait to see what case the Naturals get to work on next and what happens between Cassie and the boys. This book gets four out of five stars!
sexual: some kissing
violence: some graphic scenes from the serial killer’s POV