Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Cassie learned early on how to read people. Her mother claimed to be a psychic but Cassie's pretty sure she was nothing but a fraud. That doesn't mean that she wasn't gifted with an ability, an ability that she passed on to Cassie and taught her to use. Cassie is what the FBI calls a Natural. She and a handful of other teens have been tapped for a new and elite program with the feds. Here, they're taught to use their gifts with the intent to help solve some of the toughest cold cases. But when a current case shows a marked similarity to Cassie's mother's murder, she finds herself the center of a killer's attentions. 

Hello! This is exactly the kind of thriller I wanted when I was a teen. One with teens in a fairly believable setting as the main characters. The only thing that I ever found even close to this all those years ago was Christopher Golden's Body of Evidence series.

Sure, as an adult I might be tempted to try and pick this apart and say the scenario is a stretch. Honestly, I just enjoyed reading the book so much that I didn't even pay that much attention. In the book, the way Barnes has set up Cassie's meet and greet with the feds and the first few days of her training, it honestly does make almost total sense that these teens would be working with the FBI on cold cases. Almost. But I will say this, the pacing of the story left me very little time to really start to over analyze the training situation.

One thing that did get to me a little was the sort of banter-ish/show offy nature of the students. And actually, now that I think about it it's just been so long since I was a teen or around teens that I may have forgotten just how badly teens want to one up each other in showing off their talents. Wait. That's not just teens :) The book was just the right length that it toed the line in getting a bit annoying but only just.

Even as a teen I was a pretty savvy mystery reader and while I had my suspicions about the killer, I had no clue about the ultimately revealed motivation. Didn't see that coming at all! So good one, Jennifer Lynn Barnes!

My opinion, The Naturals is an excellent read for teens craving a great thriller. There's a bit of cross over potential for adults who are ok with diving into a slightly iffy (think teen Criminal Element) scenario and spending time with some believably teen characters. This is a series set up so while Barnes  does a good job in her character development, there are some obvious holes to take advantage of in spreading out more story.

Rating: 3.5/5

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