The Naturals, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (2013)

Genre: Mystery
Interest Level: 15-18
The NaturalsA group of teens with natural gifts are recruited to help the FBI solve cold cases, and get caught into a serial killer’s web. I loved the premise of this novel, and enjoyed it from the start. Cassie is a natural profiler – she takes the subtlest of clues and pieces them together to get an astonishingly accurate picture of who the person is. Lia can detect lies like no one’s business, Sloane sees patterns and calculates odds, Michael reads emotions like your face is a book, and Dean is another profiler; even more experienced than Cassie, he is able to get into the mind of a serial killer. I wouldn’t call this a paranormal, though; it’s truly a mystery. Barnes creates a love triangle that is a bit of a distraction, but what else would one expect in a house full of attractive teenagers! Their voices are equally authentic, I think – self-absorbed, confused, awkward, and impatient. The novel zips along at a good pace, alternating between Cassie’s story and the thoughts of a serial killer who is getting ever closer to the teens. The ending was a disappointment. I didn’t guess the killer’s identity, but once revealed I found it highly unlikely, made more so by the killer’s complete loss of self-control. It’s apparently the first in a series, so perhaps things will improve. Other than the ending, I enjoyed the pacing, characterization, and plot. There are some pretty gruesome descriptions by the killer though, so keep this one for older teens.
Thanks again to NetGalley for the advance e-copy. More discussion and reviews of this novel: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13597723-the-naturals

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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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