By Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Naturals #1
Published by Disney-Hyperion
on November 5, 2013
Cover image and summary from Goodreads:
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.
I’ve been wanting to read this book for such a long time! I was so intrigued by the premise and the blurb on the cover that basically calls it a YA Criminal Minds.
That blurb turned out to be pretty accurate! I was so fascinated with the psychology and profiling discussed in this book. While other Naturals have non-profiling abilities which were interesting (e.g. reading emotions, or being a genius with numbers and statistics), it really felt as though Cassie and Dean’s profiling ability was the focus. Perhaps it’s the criminology student in me, but even though profiling can be flawed and is used for entertainment in this work of fiction, that attempt to get inside someone’s head and to understand why she/he does something has always interested me.
As far as the story goes, it was a fun, well-paced mystery. I liked the story and the characters, and particularly enjoyed the dynamic between the five Naturals who were all living together. While there was a larger mystery that was not resolved in this book, I was pleased to see that my suspicions about the story’s central mystery were well-founded. And while I figured out who the culprit was, I didn’t know the motive, and I read quickly, eager to get to the bottom of it!
I didn’t really enjoy the love triangle. It felt unnecessary to me. I am curious, though, to see who Cassie may end up with – if she chooses to be with anyone (but I must admit that I’m biased towards anyone named Dean).
Overall, this was a very fun, intriguing mystery. Recommended! I’ve bumped the sequel, Killer Instinct, up on my TBR list!