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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 5 January 2014
I don't normally read books like this because it is usually some spy book based on a boys dark past coming back to haunt him, which can be good but there are so many books like that out there it gets dull. This however was from a city young woman's point of view.
Not focused on romance but just enough to add more to the twists and turns of the dramatic events. Solving mysterious murders while a murder is after her.
The writing style is new and well done, I haven't ever read a book of this sort where you get inside the murders head. It is creepy how well written the unstable thoughts are but well done Jennifer.
Looking for something new and exciting with a little romance sprinkled on top then this is definitely a book for you.
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on 9 May 2014
I love a good crime mystery - and I seem to enjoy them more in Young Adult than Adult literature lately. Maybe it's just a bit of change, but I like the fact that in Young Adult books, there's usually more focus on the characters than in the adult equivalents, which tend to be more plot focused.

Having said that, The Naturals is a quick read that completely held my attention all the way through. I enjoyed the crime element, but also the fact that the characters were so diverse. Even the *cough* love triangle felt different than the normal cliche - so much so that it didn't even really irritate me the way love triangles usually do.

The Naturals has an interesting premise - being able to read people, emotions etc. is a pretty cool idea, and Barnes did a good job at getting that interest going, however it was a little overshadowed by the mystery element as the story progressed. For me, a little bit more profiling and background on why the teens had this ability would have made it a more interesting read, but perhaps more will be revealed in the next book in the series. It wasn't enough explanation for me - I like to understand this kind of stuff up front so I can then get immersed into the plot, rather than having to wait to find out more.

I also found there were a few too many characters introduced at once, and I did start to get them a little confused at certain points. As a series, there is hopefully a lot more character development to come, but although they had distinct personalities, I didn't feel like I really got to KNOW the characters and what drove them which made it difficult to remember who was who (and their abilities).

As mysteries go, The Naturals was actually quite unpredictable and I enjoyed Barnes' writing and her ability to keep the pacing even and the plot interesting. I'm going to keep an eye out for the next book in the series, because I do think the characters have a lot of potential and I'm still to find out more about their abilities.
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on 22 June 2014
A fantastic book which was recommended to me by a friend. I also highly recommend it. What would you do if an agency wanted to put you in a secret programme? Lots of mystery, speculation and fun. If you love teen spy, this is for you. A good read for anyone age 13+.
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on 2 January 2014
First off, before I even start with the review, I have to comment on how much I love the US cover.

So on to the review part and I have to admit I loved this. I don't know if the reason I loved this so much was because I read it after reading a book that I really hated - *cough* Allegiant *cough* - but I honestly don't think so. It was great to read a book with such great pacing though, something that kept me turning the pages well into the night, when really I should have been sleeping.

Now there is quite a lot to say about this book, first and most importantly is the fact I really loved it. Our main character is Cassandra Hobbes, who prefers to go by Cassie, and she has the natural ability to profile people. I kind of loved her, I adored how much she reminded me of a female Sherlock Holmes. Just by looking at someone she could figure out so much about the person. I felt she was such a great female character and I really rooted for her the whole time. She's the kind of female lead I can really root for!

Secondary characters, to me, are really important to any book. If they all fall kind of flat and seem like they haven't been developed at all, then I really struggle to enjoy the book. But, luckily for me, this book introduced me to some rather amazing secondary characters that I could really fall in love with. They were all so different, but equally as crazy and endearing in their own ways. Michael, who I found really funny as I adored his sarcastic sense of humour. Then we had Dean, who is the brooding guy with the dark past who I kind of fell for. Then if that was not enough we have the wonderful Lia and Sloane, who bring their own comedic relief and had me giggling. But though they are great characters, I need to know more about them but I'm sure if this series continues then we will get to know them better as time goes by. I can't wait to be honest.

This story kept me guessing, actually I couldn't stop. As with all crime books you read, this one keeps you guessing till the very end. I had almost 10 different potential murderers in my head so was actually shocked when I turned out to be wrong. I would make a pretty bad detective it seems. I stayed up late into the night to finish this, as I needed to know what was going to happen. This was very fast paced, which was a pleasant change.

I loved the chapters from the perspective of YOU, which is our serial killer. They speak of them in terms of YOU as it helps them get into the mind set of the killer. These chapters are quite graphic, which I wasn't expected but was pleasantly surprised by. I was worried this would be a very young young adult crime novel and be lacking in the crime aspect. But, as a warning as well if you're squeamish, it isn't. In fact at times it was quite brutal in it's description of the killings, which really grabbed me and got me into the book. I was scared for them all, in case they came face to face with the killer.

If I have to pick one fault with the book then it's the use of the dreaded love triangle. Something, I believe quite a lot of us are getting sick of seeing in books lately. Add into that a rather cringe worthy game of Truth or Dare in order to get two of these characters to kiss, causing the other to get jealous and you have me shaking my head in disgust. But I did kind of go with it in the end and already have my man chose.

This seems like a great start to a series, with lots of places that it could go and I just need to get more of these characters. This was a really quick read and something that can be devoured easily. For anyone one with a love of crime thrillers for young adults then this is a great one to discover.

4/5 Stars

I really enjoyed this, a nice quick read with characters I can love and a storyline that kept me guessing. Sequel now, please!

*I received a copy of this novel from the author/publisher/publicist via Netgalley in exchange for a free and honest review and received no monetary compensation for this review.

For more reviews and giveaways go to my book review blog [...]
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on 13 November 2013
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Disney Book Group and Netgalley.)
17-year-old Cassie has always been good at reading people, but she never expected the FBI to notice.

Offered an opportunity to be trained by the FBI, Cassie leaves her family to become a `natural' profiler, one of only a few special teens chosen to work on cold cases.

When Cassie then gets herself involved in a current murder investigation, she gets more than she bargained for, and finds herself in imminent danger.
Who is the murderer? And can Cassie work it out before it's too late?

This was an interesting story, but it took a while to get going.

Cassie was an okay character. I did find it a little odd how she didn't seem to get home sick at all, but her talents were pretty impressive, and she at first reminded me a little of Sookie Stackhouse (because she was a waitress who knew what was going on in people's heads).

The storyline was okay, although I felt like it took a while to really get going. It didn't seem to get interesting until the 40% mark, but after that we got some surprises in the way of secrets about the main characters, and Cassie actually got to see some crime scenes! I thought that Cassie's talents were good, and I liked how she had these talents without anything supernatural going on!
There was a romance element to this story, which inevitably turned into a love triangle unfortunately, but this wasn't the main focus of the story.

When the final plot twist was revealed it was surprising, but not majorly surprising, and I did have some questions about how believable it was. Funnily enough though the exact questions I had pertaining to the killer were also raised by one of the characters in the book, so it seems pretty obvious that the author had given thought to these questions when writing the story. Things were wrapped up quite nicely, but there was also plenty of room for further books, making the ending quite satisfactory.
Overall; an interesting YA mystery/crime novel, that holds promise for the rest of the series.
7 out of 10.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 7 November 2013
"4.5 stars.

Review of a Netgalley advance copy.

Cassie can 'read' people, can tell everything about them from their behaviour and appearance, her skills passed down to her from her mother. The mother that was murdered when Cassie was 12.

But her abilities haven't gone unnoticed. One day the FBI come calling. Cassie is wanted for the Naturals, a team of teenagers with similar abilities that can help solve crimes. And of course, her skills will be called into action sooner than they expected.

I'm not a big crime/thriller reader but I'll admit that I was hooked. It's a great spin on the worn genre of suspect-profiler, putting a group of teenagers with Natural talent in the mix, and they are some great characters. A liar, a number-cruncher, profiler, emotion reader, the whole package.

And we get interspersed chapters from inside a killer's mind, one who gradually gets closer to the action.

Cassie is a pretty good protagonist, though occasionally a bit needy/indecisive (two young men both like her), it's enjoyable watching her piece together a profile from clues. The murderer subplot gradually builds tension and is engaging.

This would make a great series, following the same teenagers through future training and following their relationships, learning more of the history of other Naturals and focusing on them.
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Cassandra - or Cassie - is a ‘natural’ at profiling people. She can tell a great deal about someone just by studying them and the environment they are in. The FBI somehow picks up on this and she is recruited for a special program to develop these skills even further. She’s not the only one there with special ‘natural’ abilities, the other teenagers in the program each specialize on some domain: Michael can read emotions and facial expressions, Lia is a human lie detector, Sloane has an amazing talent when it comes to numbers and figuring out patterns and then there is Dean who is a profiler just like her. Cassie has her own reasons for joining the group: not only has she always felt like an outsider, not entirely fitting in with her family, there is also the fact that 5 years ago her own mother was murdered, or so it is assumed because her body never was found, and she still hopes to find answers. Now while she gets lessons and training from FBI agent Locke, she hears the FBI are working a case of multiple murders. Even though they are forbidden to work on the active case, Cassie believes the recent murders are related to her mother's case and she can’t help but to dig in a little deeper and to venture on dangerous terrain. This is a really good start for the series: it has a good plot, unique characters, and a unpredictable twist. I loved the love interest part too, she is attracted to both Dean and Michael and you will have readers rooting for both camps (bad boy Dean and the exact opposite Michael). I favoured Michael and hope he will get together with her. We got a chance to hear the killer’s voice between the other chapters but this did not unveil who it was, I loved how it kept me guessing until the end.
If you liked reading my honest opinion, please give me a vote so I can get closer to the top reviewers. Thank you.
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on 29 May 2015
Even though it feels so wrong to admit that I loved this creepy, chilling, DETAILED story, I'm gonna have to. The way Jennifer Lynn Barnes was able to get into the head of the killer and sort through every detail emotion and action that all characters had is amazing! I also do not believe that this story makes the author some psychotic killer at all. Just really good at perceiving people and understanding motives and the way someone's mind may work. That in itself is amazing and I commend her for it. I would seriously recommend this to anyone into Sherlock Holmes or that type of thing ( ;
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on 24 January 2015
In a world where book packaging and retellings are all the rage, it's not hard to imagine someone watching Criminal Minds, or whatnot, while thinking, "How can I make this YA?"

Whilst Jennifer Lynn Barnes's THE NATURALS is NOT the result of book packaging or retelling, its concept requires too much suspension of disbelief. The FBI is adult. These "Naturals" are teenagers, who are supposedly better at crime-solving than the FBI. Even though FBI agents go through strenuous training and years on the job, these teens' abilities are "natural", rather than learned. Nothing paranormal - just Special Snowflakes.

Minus the chapters from the killer's point of view, you'd be surprised to go through 100 pages (a third) of the book until the case is even mentioned. Even later for the teens to get involved. Generally speaking, origin stories (of how someone joins a group) make better prequel novellas, rather than wasting time in a novel. But without the origin story here, you only have roughly 200 pages (or less) of relevance.

The main character is completely superfluous. The Naturals already have all the bases covered without her: a lie detector, a probability calculator, an emotion-reader, and a profiler. If Cassie Hobbes had a different ability, her presence would be justified. Instead, she's just another profiler.

But apparently Cassie and the other profiler, Dean Redding, have some complementary thing where she presents the victim's POV and he presents the killer's. They're love interests, too, so...kind of creepy. But this is part of a love triangle, mind you - Cassie must choose between moody Dean and fun Michael. We've read enough YA romance to know that Cassie and Dean are soul mates, or some tripe, so the love triangle just seems like time-wasting.

The case turns out to be about Cassie, as if to justify her inclusion, but...still not impressive.

As someone interested in psychology, THE NATURALS should've worked for me. Maybe it would've, if I'd turned off my brain's logic. But I shouldn't have to stop thinking in order to enjoy something.
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on 21 November 2013
The Naturals was so nearly brilliant. It was smart, original, exciting but there were a couple of things that made me mark it down a star which was a real shame.

I have never really seen anything like The Naturals in YA before it was very dark but I really liked that side of it. Jennifer Lynn Barnes is not afraid to take this book to some gruesome and dark places and I commend her for it. This is a book about serial killers and it doesn’t take the subject lightly. I really liked the idea, it reminded me a lot of Criminal Minds which is not a surprise considering they are both about criminal profiling but despite the similarities it still manages to be original and different.

At first I wasn’t sure if it was going to work. The whole idea of teens being hired by the FBI because they are naturally gifted in profiling, statistics, lie detecting and reading emotions seemed a little to bizarre but the author handles it really well and in the end it worked for me.

There is not much action in this but the story is paced nicely and is more thriller than anything else. I liked the cat and mouse game towards the end and loved it when this went somewhere I didn’t expect at all. I love it when there is a twist that I never saw coming and The Naturals really managed to surprise me.

The characters could have been a bit more dynamic. There was a range of personalities but they tended to stay in the typical YA stereotypes. There were two boys) the cheeky one and the brooding one) and three girls (the smart one, the bitchy one, the quirky one) there was nothing new with the characters and they could have walked out of any other book. Unfortunately, the main character Cassie is the least interesting of the bunch she had an interesting past but lacked any real personality.

My main issue with this book was the unneeded love triangle. I felt like it added absolutely nothing to what was an exciting and interesting storyline. It felt really gratuitous and did nothing for me. I am not like some readers who hate the love triangle but it has to be done well for the right reasons and I felt that this one was forced and not natural. I thought that this would have had a lot more depth if the romance had just focused on Cassie and Dean. Dean is an interesting character with a lot of complexities and the interaction between them was great. Michael was a good character but I didn’t like him as a love interest especially as he already has an on again, off again with another one of the characters which makes this more of a love square than anything.

If there was no love triangle this book would have easily got four stars from me and I really wish I could give it those four stars but I cannot. Despite the love triangle there is a lot of good things to be found here, I thought this was a gutsy book with a lot to recommend it. I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
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