Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Naturals

This was one of those books that just screamed, “Finish me, finish me!” And you’re like, “YESSS!” But then after you revive from book-hangover, you’re confused about what exactly happened and why you were so obsessed with it. The Naturals had such a captivating premise, but somewhere along the line, the plot went in a very weird direction, and I’m not sure if it was for the story’s best interests or if it was done solely for the shock factor. Also, LOVE TRIANGLE ALERT UGH.

Title: The Naturals
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Category: (Young Adult) Thriller / Mystery



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.


So the reason The Naturals appealed to me was because the premise sounded appealing – it’s not as far as magic realism in that these “gifts” aren’t exactly like magic, but it has the same appeal. (Similar to how I got into Max Barry’s Lexicon, actually.) However, the synopsis did not mention that the FBI program that makes use of Cassie’s natural abilities is more like a practice program, due to some admittedly acceptable reasons, and that Cassie isn’t meant to see any fieldwork at all. Thus, what I had in mind of what the plot was going to be like totally changed. This was a necessary plot device given how the story turned out, but it did throw me off at the beginning.

So the plot. Ah, the plottity plot. The plot twist struck me down mercilessly, and left me (and probably Cassie) feeling pretty stupid. I feel like there’s such a big disparity between mystery book plots: those that hand-hold you every step of the way, and those that lead you down the completely wrong path before they show you the real answer. This was definitely the latter, and it was done in such a way that made sense? Question mark because I really liked the ending when I first read it, but then when I think back to it, I was annoyed by how sudden it was. (I feel like plot twists are done so often on screen though, and somehow I like them better through that medium.)

Characters-wise, the only thing that bugged me was the love triangle (obviously). The Boys are always so hot and cold all the time that I can just loop Katy Perry’s song throughout the entire book and it would be totally relevant. Cassie is so much better off without The Boys distracting her, hmph.


Overall, The Naturals was very action-packed and filled with suspense, and I couldn’t put it down until I finished it. But when I think back about it, I realize that there are things that I didn’t enjoy as much. If you want something with shock factor, and you don’t mind love triangles, then The Naturals is definitely for you!

6 thoughts on “Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

  1. The idea of this book sounds interesting, but it sounds as though the ending might be too abrupt and the boys sound annoying. I’m not sure if I’d like this or not, but I’m intrigued 🙂

    • Yeah, it definitely has an intriguing premise… and I realized after I wrote this up that sometimes an extreme plot twist ending works for me, but other times not so much. Not sure why this time I didn’t like it, but maybe because I usually read mysteries/thrillers that don’t have annoying boys? Lol. 😛

  2. Oh hey by the way have you ever read ‘The Mysterious Benedict Society’? It’s aimed at a slightly younger audience, but also has this similar premise of bringing together kids with unusual (but not magical) talents. It’s actually a favorite of mine because of the underlying anti-being-a-government-sheep message that’s pulled off really well.

    PS do you like the way that I read your posts out of order? This is what happens when I get all the posts for all the blogs through email and then wade my way through them whenever I have some spare time. :-p

    • I just checked my Goodreads account and it’s on my to-read list, so I bet you told me about it! I haven’t had time recently to look for specific books (I haven’t been to the library in a while, eep! Just the used bookstore, where everything is out of order…), but I’ll definitely let you know when I get to it!

      Haha, that’s totally fine! I bookmark posts a lot and go back to comment later on, and I also like revisiting my own older reviews. 😛

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