Published: November 5th, 2014 by Disney-Hyperion
//Goodreads//The Book Depository//Indiebound//
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.You can't go into The Naturals expecting a chilling serial killer novel that gets your heart racing in fear, characters that will make you sob for hours, or a perfectly crafted plot. But you can expect a quick and enjoyable read with some mystery and plenty of supporting characters with actual depth.
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.
(Bear with me for this incredibly short review, considering it's been a few months since I read this.)
You definitely have to suspend some disbelief for this novel, but when you do, I think the idea is fantastic. Cassie has a really cool talent - give her just a few seconds and she can know plenty of details about you that you'd never have shared. I love the way Barnes writes this - it appears logical and factual on Cassie's part, not mystical and magical. This, of course, is a very desirable trait for the FBI, who already have a project started with a few other gifted teens. Though I wish we had gotten a better glimpse into the inner workings of the FBI and their investigation, I still say it's a really cool concept, and Barnes certainly writes it well.
The Naturals includes short chapters written in the POV of the serial killer, and this was a great addition. Definitely made it creepier and kept me on my toes. This could have been done horribly, but getting a glimpse into the action and the mind of the serial killer was pretty cool. I definitely think it could have been even creepier, but that doesn't really fit with the style of the novel. I think I just wanted to be scared. (My friend and I did an entire project on Jefferey Dahmer and Ted Bundy last year. We watched interviews at midnight in the dark for it. I like the fear, apparently.)
We get to watch Cassie adjust to living with other teenagers - Michael, who can read her emotions like a book, Sloane, a bit of an oddball who's a whiz with math and statistics, and Dean, a fellow profiler, albeit an angrier one. Romance aside, Cassie's developing relationships with them was fun to see. Everything felt very natural (ha. ha.) and each character had their own quirks and certainly served a purpose, rather than just being there for decoration like secondary characters in many novels.
And, of course, we find two men for potential relationships. I'll tell you that, for the most part, the love triangle didn't annoy me simply because the plot overshadows it most of the time. It's still irritating, though. It always is. I dare you to find me one that doesn't annoy me.