ARC Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Pub. Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
304 pages

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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.


I’m not someone who gravitates towards crime stories. I get creeped out easily, and I have what some may call an overactive imagination. Let’s just say it’s best when I’m not aware of the multitudes of ways people can be murdered. Yet, the premise behind The Naturals intrigued me. I found Cassie’s ‘natural’ approach to reading and profiling people so much more interesting than the scientific approach we usually see. Surprisingly for me, the girl who get’s creeped out, one of my favorite things about the novel is when ‘You’ takes over the narrative. Switching to a criminal perspective really upped the anti on how drawn into the world of The Naturals I became.

Even though I may not seek out crime-based stuff, I love me a good sleuth, and Cassie can sleuth with the best of them. I really liked Cassie’s profiling process. Her ability to read and profile people is like a giant puzzle. Every piece of information she discerns, no matter how big or small, combine to create a murky picture she somehow has to make crystal clear. Her piecing together a suspect profile really appealed to the problem solving side of me that needs to figure out solutions to puzzles before the answer is given. That being said, I think the pacing of the problem solving was a little off. The amount of time spent on Cassie’s introduction to the FBI and ‘The Naturals’ seemed long, as it prolonged the introduction of the overarching mystery. The mystery solving on the other hand felt a little rushed. I never questioned Cassie’s ability to profile, and the moments when Cassie’s abilities are on full display are the moments when The Naturals really shines. I just wish the overarching mystery had been given the time and space to shine too.

As much as I liked Cassie’s character, and as compelled as I was by the profiling aspect of the story, I had two definitive issues with the novel. The first was with how little we learn about the secondary characters. I understand that a pretty major story element is how Cassie’s fellow ‘Naturals’ are very aware of her ability to profile, and they work really hard to prevent her from being able to profile them – in that respect the story was done really well, Cassie doesn’t learn enough to properly profile them. But, at some point, I needed to know the characters in order to actually care about what happens to them. My second issue was with the love triangle. I’m not a fan of love triangles in general, but I really don’t like the inclusion of triangles that don’t obviously add to the overall story. There’s a small moment in The Naturals where the triangle shows it’s purpose, but I think the moment could have been just as effective if the characters had all been friends. I didn’t see the necessity of the triangle.

Overall, the positives were strong enough to overshadow any issues I had with the novel. I would definitely recommend The Naturals to Mystery and Crime lovers who can handle a little more of a slow burn pace.

Rating 3.5/5

*** I received a copy of the novel from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was in no way compensated. 

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