On a Whim, I Revisited The Naturals | Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

3:53 PM

I love how I've reread quite a few books this year but only like two or three were the books I planned to reread for 5 and 5. Killing it. Oh, well, it's time for The Naturals.


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 by Jennifer Lynn Barnes 
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2.5)

Something about the curve of his lips was more intimate than any touch.

Quick confession time: I LOVED this book when it came out. The Naturals felt like a dream and like everything I wanted out of a good YA novel. The premise is pure brilliance, if not a little unbelievable, I loved the characters, and I remember breezing through the story. On a surface level, The Naturals is 100% my brand in terms of plotlines.

Which is why I wanted to reread it before the year (or decade) was over. Go on a bit of a deep dive into favourites of the decade. I'd not read any of the sequels, so I figured now was the time to catch up on it and see how I felt about the series as a whole. Look over it with fresh eyes; continue on with the other installments, possibly find new favourites.

This is the part where, in a movie, a record scratch would put a pause in the narration. Oops. Upon the reread, I found myself struggling with it. In theory, I still "enjoyed" it and the way the novel explored a set of crime drama tropes. Combined with a delicious amount of mystery and teen angst, it's a solid combination. The Naturals, despite its flaws, remains entertaining, and all but begs to be adapted for television.

I could have done without some plotlines that were seemingly just tossed in. The romance, too, was not something I was fully invested in. I loved it back in the day but for some reason it put up a bit of a wall between me and the essence of The Naturals. All things aside, this story still read like a fast-paced joyride and had moments of sheer exhilaration. (Which, sadly, didn't make up for its weak points but is still worth noting.)

Shockingly enough, I thought I remembered a great deal of what happened in The Naturals but rereading it proved that I actually didn't. Although my rating is lower, and there are things I do not like about the novel nowadays, Jennifer Lynn Barnes writes a really solidly fleshed out story. I loved the underlying mystery and problem solving aspects to the story most of all--I was actually thrown off course multiple times while rereading this.

Also, Jennifer Lynn Barnes's writing still remains some of the best I've seen in the genre. I find that her prose has aged really well in the years since The Naturals initial publication. At the end of the day, there's something enjoyable and entertaining about this book--but it's not my favourite.

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