Monday, November 11, 2013

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date – November 5, 2013
Publisher Website – Disney/Hyperion
Publisher Social Media -  Twitter
Pages - 304 pages
My Rating- 3/5
**received from publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
A killer on the loose. Young teenagers with gifts that could help catch a killer. A girl who becomes a target, and taunt tension. The Naturals seemed to have everything I wanted in a novel, including a delicious premise and a fantastic start. I was engrossed immediately. Sadly, after starting strong the novels pacing ends up on a low note, and failed to deliver the strong ending I expected.

This is part normal procedural murder mystery, part romance, and part paranormal. The inclusion of these 'gifts' that the teenagers have added an extra element to the story. I wanted more details about them, and wanted to learn how the teenagers even came to possess them. Is it just something they were born with? Is it something they developed over time? I left wanting more answers about both the teens, and these 'gifts'.

The romance is a little infuriating. I think some will be harsher than I am on it. It's insta-love through and through. There is even a triangle thrown in for good measure. The only selling point is that I found it believable. The teens in this come across like teens in a typical teen movie. They behave like you would expect from this genre and it gave them an air of familiarity. It, sadly, also made them read like placeholder characters. Undefined and included to fit a requirement or sterotype. None of them really stood out, but I also enjoyed them while I was involved in the story.

Cassie's story is the catalyst for much of the plot. I feel her story was plotted and woven rather well (at least up until the end payoff). The tension creeps along increasingly steadily as the chapters go by. It shows that this had the potential to be a fantastic read, but the ending felt rushed, and didn't connect the way I wanted it to. The mystery is sort of resolved at end, but leaving enough open to warrant a sequel. The set up is tailor made to be a series, with different crimes being the focus with a larger storyline woven throughout. I see a lot of potential for future novels.

The inclusion of chapters titled YOU served to put the reader in the mind of a predator/killer. It was well done and one of my favourite parts of the novel. Creepy, chilling, and hit just the right balance. It's these sections that made the story stronger, and provided a perspective that was needed.

A fantastic start that unfortunately tapered off to what was, for me, a disappointing ending. The door is open for sequels to this, and the premise is so tantalizing that I hope it lives up to it's potential in any future installments.

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