Monday, 16 March 2015

Book Review - The Naturals

The Naturals
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Naturals #1
Genres: Mystery, Contemporary | Young Adult
Release Date: 7th November 2013
Publishers: Quercus
No. Pages: 315
Source: Gifted
Cassie Hobbes is not like most teenagers. Most teenagers don't lose their mother in a bloody, unsolved kidnapping. Most teenagers can't tell who you are, where you're from and how you’re likely to behave within moments of meeting you. And most teenagers don't get chosen to join The Naturals.

Identified by the FBI as uniquely gifted, Cassie is recruited to an elite school where a small number of teens are trained to hone their exceptional abilities.

For Cassie, trying to make friends with the girls, and to figure out the two very different, very hot boys, is challenging enough. But when a serial killer begins recreating the details of her mother’s horrific crime scene, she realises just how dangerous life in The Naturals could be..

Let it be said that the wonderful phrase is true - you have got to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince, and it's no different when it comes to books - sometimes, you've just got to read through unimpressive, unbelievable and middle-ground reads before you find the one, and The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is certainly the first one of what I hope is many more 5 star and favourites of the 2015. With tropes I am common for loving, a love triangle that I seriously wasn't expecting, nor disliked, and humour abound, the Naturals really did, finally, give me the wow factor.

Let us consider what this book has for a moment. There's a mystery, one that is slowly and steadily unravelled throughout the main character, Cassie's perspective, but also through a secondary perspective, the perspective of you, as the killer. These perspectives follow a game of cat and mouse, one following another, one the hunter, one the hunted, and it's definitely an amazing part of this book. I'll be frank, the mystery did take time to come to the forefront, there was a lot of character development, introductions, getting comfortable into the story shall we say, but once that mystery picked up, the Naturals was a whole other book. It had the perfect amount of creeptastic feelings, it was realistic and horrifying at the same time, it gave me the shivers and couldn't stop me turning pages, it had a really dark and eerie feel to it, one that included some really twisted and psychologically unnerving scenes, scenes that involved you being in the mind of killers and victims, it had everything I wanted it to have and more. It was an amazing look at damaged characters taking on a very damaged killer, one that tested boundaries of trust and loyalty, the past and present, pushed friendships to the limit, and really was a showstopper of a performance with it's twists and turns, it's plot changes and it's amazing ending that had me screaming, shaking and losing my marbles. It might not be your next Dangerous Girls or Boys, but it definitely stands on it's own feet.

I didn't even mind that the mystery aspect took some time to develop, because in that time, the characters of this book took centre stage and really shined, both with each other, and on their own. Cassie was definitely a brilliant character to get inside the head of, she was talented, but didn't feel it defined her, nor made her a special snowflake, she admitted that she was different and embraced it, rather than shied away from it, was was confident, able and more than happy to look after herself, and this made her character a very easy one to like and relate to. Her family aspects were really rather well written, and while the beginning did feel a little tad rushed, I can't say I minded - for a short novel, Barnes seriously packed an awful lot in, and that impressed me. Cassie's relationship with the other characters too, Sloane, Lia, Michael, Dean, even Briggs, the relationships were well fleshed out, realistic and gave this story an extra something, something a little lighter when the mystery itself was getting more dangerous the stakes were getting higher. Every character in this friendship group gave something the story in The Naturals, Sloane, the whizz kind with number and facts, Lia, the liar and walking lie detector, Michael, the emotions reader and general comedian of the group, and Dean, the other profiler, along with Cassie, with the damaged childhood and the guy that stole my heart.. They sound like regurgitated characters and set-ups, and the actions many of these characters are involved in also feel like they've been used before, but there was something about Barnes writing that made these characters feel fresh and made the set-up feel brand new. I was totally absorbed in this mystery with the characters, and watching them bounce off one another so easily and with so much humour was really one of the best parts of The Naturals.

The Naturals was a brilliant story and had the perfect balance between humour, mystery, characters and development in the series. It stands on it's own two feet as a standalone mystery in a series, but definitely paves the way for really fantastic sequels. The romance is really rather fantastic, a love triangle, but in no way frustrating - both Michael and Dean were developed, fleshed out characters with backgrounds, secrets, other motives and a dangerous connection with one another, something I absolutely adore in triangles, and I cannot wait to see how that features progresses, and of course, read more of Dean, because Dean, and all my Dean feels. The secondary characters, talented, brilliant, hilarious and realistic, easily complimented each other and brought this story alive. I wish I could find more word within my fangirling feelings for The Naturals, but I can't, and I wish I could tell you so much about how the mystery in the novel really comes alive the more you read, and I wish I could tell you that this book is brilliant, but it's so much more than that. It's the first book this year that I lost all my emotions over, the first book that just felt complete, and the first book in a series I will, without a doubt, be continuing. Seriously, if you hadn't tried this book, then start considering, and if you have and didn't like it, then I need to reconsider out friendship..


  1. One of the things I always look for in a series starter is a book that can stand on its own and doesn't do that whole 'you must read the next one because CLIFF HANGER'. That shit annoys me endlessly.

    I'm intrigued by the idea of a triangle being . . . not awful. Triangles are my worst thing in books. Like, I detest them more than anything. But to hear that both love interests here are so well-developed gives me hope for the possibility of at least one triangle book that doesn't make me want to tear out the pages.

    1. Oh no, none of the installments in this series do this, and that's great I think, considering they're mysteries, and there's plots that run through, but they're so so good! I do think the triangle is a good one, the characters are fleshed out and realistic, as are the emotions, such good guys!<3

  2. I recently read this one too, and I felt pretty much the same way you did! I loved the killer's perspective and all the secondary characters as well. I've seen a lot of people who didn't like this too much, so I'm happy to finally find someone who did!

    1. Oh yes, it's one of my favourite series of all time for sure Zoey, so glad to see someone who agrees!<3


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