Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Naturals

13597723Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: November 5th, 2013
Publisher Disney-Hyperion 
Genre(s): YA Mystery/ Crime
Pages: 308
~Spoiler Free!~

Seventeen-year-old Cassie is a natural at reading people. Piecing together the tiniest details, she can tell you who you are and what you want. But it’s not a skill that she’s ever taken seriously. That is, until the FBI come knocking: they’ve begun a classified program that uses exceptional teenagers to crack infamous cold cases, and they need Cassie.

What Cassie doesn’t realize is that there’s more at risk than a few unsolved homicides—especially when she’s sent to live with a group of teens whose gifts are as unusual as her own. Sarcastic, privileged Michael has a knack for reading emotions, which he uses to get inside Cassie’s head—and under her skin. Brooding Dean shares Cassie’s gift for profiling, but keeps her at arm’s length.

Soon, it becomes clear that no one in the Naturals program is what they seem. And when a new killer strikes, danger looms closer than Cassie could ever have imagined. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse with a killer, the Naturals are going to have to use all of their gifts just to survive.

First thoughts: As a mega-fan of DBSK, I admit the first thing I thought of when I saw "Cassie" was, "OMG I'm a Cassie too" xD. (K-pop fandom joke;))

But the book overall reminded me a lot of A Girl Named Digit.


I wasn't really into this book. I didn’t hate it nor did I like it. It was one of those books I picked up just to fill my time until I find that one book that tears apart my soul. ;) The premise reminded me of A Girl Named Digit, esp. since it involved the FBI and people who had special abilities. 

This book wasn't intense; it may be a murder mystery, but it wasn't at all heart-racing or gripping.  I think the reason had a lot to do with how the events were just dragged on and on.  For the most part, I felt the pacing was slow; there was a lot of filler stuff that I felt really bogged down the plot.

 There was also a love triangle in this book.   I didn't hate the love triangle nor did I really like it.  There wasn’t insta-love- so that was an instant plus!- and the relationships between both guys were built up (more with Dean than Micheal I thought); also, the ending leaves the relationships open for more development in future books.  But even without the future books, I can tell pretty much tell who she’s going to pick.  And the way this love triangle is going, I feel like future books will be consumed by this- a pattern I’ve picked up over the years from reading the carbon copy books in different covers again and again- so it’s up in the air right now of whether I plan on reading said future books.   In this book, however, the love triangle didn’t really swallow the book; it was there, but more prominent was the actual plot-even if it did drag on. So, little things like that I appreciated.   :)

The characters and chemistry were meh.  I was expecting a strong family-type bond between all of them- which sadly didn't happen- and the chemistry between all of them was weak.  Both Lia and Sloane were very one-dimensional; they were like robots who  had one personality and one personality only; they had no depth or complexity and therefore didn’t really seem like real humans. Cassie was okay; she was a little different from most YA in her ability and the type of book she was in, but she was pretty generic.  Her voice and overall personality was your standard strong, kick-butt kinda girl with a touch of sarcasm. I did like how it was mentioned that she didn't really fit in with her dad's family because it gave her some depth. I just wished that aspect had been explored a little bit more.  I get the sense that she was suppose to have found her true "family" with the people in the Naturals program, but I couldn't really see it- mainly because of the whole robot complex.  

And the boys?  They’re your standard bad boy/ good boy combo.    Cardboard? Yea, just about, but not quite.  They had a few interesting quirks about them that made them a little more alive than cardboard.  I would say they too were more like robots (which I consider an improvement from cardboard xD).

There were a few good bits, like the plot twists and unique premise.  I really didn’t expect those twists; the book actually does a pretty good job of throwing you off the trial (I half attribute it to the draggy plot) while subtly dropping hints about who the killer is.  It was also interesting to see how everything connected at the end.   

I had my suspicions about the premise because it was similar to A Girl Named Digit.   The only thing I can recall that was similar were the abilities (Digit's ability was her  natural aptitude for math, numbers, and the like) and the FBI concept.  It's been a while since I've read AGND, but I do remember thinking that it was a fluffy book- and this was most definitely was not.

Final thoughts? I do think this book would have been better if the plot didn’t drag on, and the pacing had been picked up.   Oh, and if the characters suddenly became more than number/lie spouting machines. ;)

I would just recommend this as a filler book, like a book in-between books, but not for book hangovers.  The plot does drag, so that might just drive people in book-hangovers (esp. for those recovering from books with snappy plots and dynamic characters) crazy. Trust me, I’ve been there. ;)

Thanks for reading!

Rating: 2 out of 5 

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