The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Summary: 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 Good: Shortly after I heard about this book, I started to hear that it was paranormal, which worried me. I don't read anything in that genre. But then Jennifer herself cleared up these rumors. The five teens are all gifted like normal people. Their gifts are just much more extreme. As Jennifer put it, I believe, they're basically one in ten million. I loved how we learned about profiling and how murder cases works. Everything with the serial killer was very real and creepy (in sort of a good way...). As I was reading, I kept thinking of what Ally Carter said at the book signing: "It's either that [write], or become a psychopath." (Words in brackets mine.) Thankfully, gore and murder creep me out a little too much, so there's no danger of me becoming a psychopathic serial killer.
Back on topic...I liked the little glimpses we got of Cassie's Italian family. They were wonderful, loving, and well-meaning.
What drove me crazy - in a good way - was that I didn't figure out until it was revealed who the killer was and what his/her connection was to Cassie. That's the mark of a good author. Of course, all the signs were there when I look back, but I didn't know enough to recognize them! I was very distrustful of all the characters, even Cassie herself, because I felt like they all might have potential to be the killer.
The Bad: Love triangle! Thank heavens it wasn't too major and actually, I didn't pay that much attention to it. I was too focused on everything else. (Speaking of the love triangle, there was a moment I loved at the end. Not spoiling it, though.)
It was also too short! Gosh, when that's pretty much all the bad I can say about a book, you know I liked it.
The Ugly: Well, I mean, there's a serial killer. And some of the scenes from his/her POV can get a bit...how do I put this...disturbing. There was a bit of language, but nothing too terrible.
The Verdict: So if you have anxiety issues like I sort of do, DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. Or read it in broad daylight when people are home. I'm doing okay at not going to that place of "Oh my gosh, what if someone is stalking me and wants to kill me," but only because I read the book with lights on and when my mom was home. (And maybe it's harder to picture it all since I only read it and didn't see it on a TV screen.) It was good, though. Strongly written and really interesting.