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 is the story of how Cassie Hobbes, a seventeen year old with a natural gift for profiling, is recruited to a special FBI team. This team is known as the Naturals and is composed of four other gifted kids: Michael, Lia, Sloane, and Dean. These teens work at developing their natural talents by working on cold cases until Cassie’s past reemerges. The story follows Cassie as she adjusts to her team and searches for the person who killed her mother.
I couldn’t put this book down because it is a unique young adult story that reads at a quick and enjoyable pace. But, I want to remind readers that this is young adult fiction, so be prepared for petty teenage antics and the inevitable tortured love triangle. It is somewhat difficult to imagine self center teenagers actually capable of focusing on others, but Barnes sill does a decent job of creating believable characters. I was also a little annoyed at how the actual FBI agents are treated like simpletons, but I understand that such claims were necessary to enhance to capabilities of the Naturals. Many reviewers have compared The Naturals to the long running television show Criminal Minds; I have never seen this show but I can see how fans of the show may be disappointed by this story and consider it a sad comparison to Criminal Minds. Once again, this is young adult fiction; It is written for a different audience and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
The young adult clichés were not overbearing and I was not left rolling my eyes in annoyance as I am with many novel written for teenagers. I enjoyed The Naturals and was actually quite pleased at how the budding relationships developed between all five Naturals. The ending was a complete surprise for me and I am excited to see how Barnes’ next novel will unfold. I recommend The Naturals for readers looking for something fun and different. Enjoy Barnes’ light, yet educational writing style while cheering on these talented kids!
Let me know what you thought of The Naturals!