The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Enjoyable thriller along the lines of the TV shows Criminal Minds and Lie to Me, featuring teenaged FBI recruits with special talents. Gripping and enjoyable to read but perhaps a little lightweight for some.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: November 2013
Publisher: Quercus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1780876823

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Cassie Hobbes doesn't feel like an average teenager. Average teenagers don't lose their mothers to unsolved murders. Average teenagers can't profile other people within minutes of acquaintance. Average teenagers aren't headhunted by the FBI to train as specifically-talented crimefighters. Cassie Hobbes is special.

When the chance comes to join The Naturals, there's no way Cassie will turn it down. It could be her best chance to find her mother's killer. But blending in with fellow Naturals Michael, Lia, Sloane and Dean, is not easy. Especially when there is a serial killer on the loose...

I don't want to mislead you: The Naturals is far from perfect. The subplot involving a love triangle between Cassie, Michael and Dean seems shoehorned in to satisfy readers who insist on a bit of kissing in every book they read. It didn't feel credible to me. Events are pretty far-fetched. And it's a light read: bookworms will devour it in a couple of hours. There. All the criticisms are out of the way in just a sentence or two. On to the positive...

... I thoroughly enjoyed The Naturals. I'm a sucker for TV shows like Criminal Minds and Lie to Me and Hannibal. And The Naturals follows the structure of them very well but with kids not grownups. There's a particularly murderous crazy person on the loose and a group of people with special talents and flaws in equal measures is after them. Separate threads follow the solving of the mystery and how the group of crime fighters cope with the horrors of what they see and the effect their special talents have on them. So the reader gets to try to solve the mystery before the end of the book and to explore the tolls that being special, other, can take on a person.

There's an interesting spread of characters within the group - Cassie, who is spiky and standoffish but intelligent and singleminded; Lia, who can be a bitch but who we suspect has a heart of gold really; Sloane, who might be slightly on the autistic spectrum but who is definitely a MENSA-style genius; Michael, who hides his own feelings but can see everyone else's; Dean, who suffers from a past horrific beyond imagining but who is insightful and courageous. Each has a special skill. Each is unsure they want to be special.

It might not be perfect, but The Naturals is a fun read for fans of thrillers and crime fiction generally.

A small two-sex group of teens with special powers also appears in The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong - this time the source of their talent isn't scientific, but supernatural.

Buy The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes at

Buy The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes at


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