Published: November 5th, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
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.
The Naturals was an exciting and thrilling murder mystery that kept the tension at a very high level. It was a little reminiscent of Criminal Minds in its execution, with a touch of Barry Lyga's ' I Hunt Killers' and a dose of Kimberley Derting's 'Body Finder' series thrown in for good measure.
In any book like this there has to be a certain suspension of belief. Let's face it - the FBI are not going to be using 17 yr olds as profilers, but if you accept that fact as written, then the story itself was surprisingly believable and easy to fall into. The kids in the story act like any normal bunch of kids in a group situation. There's petty bickering, taking sides and a degree of sexual tension that of course amps up the action a little.
Ms Barnes uses a similar technique to that of Kimberley Derting, where she gives the reader a glimpse into the mind of the killer by the use of short italicised chapters from the killers POV. These are both disturbing and enlightening, and I admit that on hindsight, I should have worked out who the killer was sooner than I did.
All in all, a great start to what I hope will be a series. Bring on the next one Ms. Barnes.