NOTE: A huge thank you to Disney Book Group, who allowed me to review The Naturals via Netgalley.
The Naturals turned out not to be what I expected. It was much, much, MUCH better. Fantastic, incredible, full of suspense. A great adrenaline rush!!
The writing was flawless, which is a true giveaway to the talent of a writer and I'm telling you Jennifer Lynn Barnes has got it going! I could hardly make myself put the book down, and the story remained with me even after I was done. The suspense was interwoven so well in the story, that I was clueless as to who was the killer until the very end. Truly, The Naturals is a thrilling adventure with a large bowl of mystery thrown inside.
I have to say that I loved the main character, Cassie, whose story we're following here. She's gone through a lot - mainly seeing her mother's blood splattered all over her changing room - and she's now living with the very loving (but not very close to her heart) Italian relatives. Up until a government agency swoops in and offers her a deal: her help in exchange for the chance to get to find her mother's killer. Of course she accepts and that's how it all begins.
I haven't gone through the emotional state Cassie has, and I pray to God I never do, but I felt her pain seep through the pages and get to me. Really get to me. Cassie was trying to hold it together, for the sake of everyone, but on the inside she was burning in pain so deep, it's hard to describe. The worst though is the hope that sometimes builds up in her. Because no one's yet found her mother's body. Sure the blood she saw was way too much, but still... She keeps on hoping, and that's undoing her well practiced facade.
At the new place Cassie meets a couple of feds and five other special kids. Kids who help solving 'old' cases. Until a particularly tough new case comes around the corner. A case of several murders that leads to... Cassie's mother? I won't say more, you gotta read it because it's just sooo good! Anyway, let's move on.
We meet Michael first, and he's this charming boy that the reader is compelled to like even though he's just acting out as important and tough and all that. He's not, of course, and he didn't fool me for a second. I can't say that I particularly liked him. His talent though, feeling people's emotions, was pretty awesome. I definitely did not like how possessive he was of Cassie - as if she was his girlfriend or something, when clearly, she was not.
Then there was Sloane, who's particularly good with numbers, as in analyzing the math stuff behind a crime scene. It was pretty fascinating, as if I was watching a special unit of the CSI or something.
Lia... was weird. She's hard to figure out. She lies well, and she can always tell if a person lies. That's her specialty. Handy, I guess. But her attitude just put me on edge.
And well, last I'm choosing to write about Dean. Tortured, guilt-ridden Dean, who shares Cassie's ability - profiling a person by looking at their demeanor, clothes, facial expression and such. He taught her a lot, especially how to think like a criminal mind. Of all things in this novel, the encounters between Cassie and Dean were the most fascinating. They learned from each other, they analyzed serial killers... and something more happened between them. They sort of clicked together, if you know what I mean.
I believe that The Naturals could satisfy any kind of audience over 16, due to the fact that some scenes are associated with murder and aren't particularly nice to read about.
My rating is 5/5 stars