Book Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals

This book took me by surprise honestly. I don’t even remember what prompted me to start it. I just know when I did I was hooked.

Ever since she was a kid Cassie’s mother emphasized the importance of BPE; behavior, personality, environment. You can tell a lot about someone from their BPE. And that’s exacltly what Cassie’s mother did in her con as a palm reader. That is until she disappeared leaving behind a bloody dressing room and still, five years later, no body. When Cassie is approached by the FBI with a place in their Naturals program, a program that teaches and uses teenagers with natural abilities like Cassie’s, in cases, like Cassie’s mother’s, to say things get weird is an understatement.

As the protagonist I had some trouble connecting with Cassie. Although I’ve never really been able to connect with teenage girls on a whole. But that further made itself prevalent when I found the supporting cast more interesting that she was. Michael, an expert at reading emotions, Lia, a master of deceit, Sloane, statistical genius, and Dean, a fellow profiler. These guys were all great. Michael had that I’m-funny-but-really-I’m-dark-and-troubled-inside sense of humor, Lia felt like that typical black widow/man-eater femme fatale, Sloane was just adorable as hell and Dean was the dark and brooding man of few words.

And then there was the mystery aspect. I loved the way the book opened with that piece in the second person voice. At first I was a little confused on what it meant but as the book went on it started to make sense and I could feel the wires connect in my mind. I wasn’t disturbed as much as I should have been being inside the mind of a serial killer but it certainly was fascinating. It reminded me why I fell in love with psychology in the first place. I will say that it wasn’t as much of a thriller to me. I had my inkling as to who the killer was but I was glad it didn’t turn out that way. It would have been too easy. But since that didn’t play out I have questions that I hope will be answered later on.

I did have some other problems however. The first of which I’ve already mentioned. The second was the fact that it felt too similar to Criminal Minds. JLB took a risk writing a story so similar to a tv show that has successfully spanned ten seasons and is probably going to be around for an eleventh. Had this book come out ten years ago chances are I would have had a different opinion (I would be twelve, but still a different opinion).  Lastly I want to mention the romance. Maybe I’m just being a stickler because love triangles have never really been my thing. But while this one wasn’t bad, it wasn’t my favorite.

To wrap up, I’m a fan of this series so far. JLB just knows how to appeal to my inner psychologist and make me keep turning those pages. I might give myself a day or two to process and then dive right into book 2 or I might do it now.

-GJA

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