Format Read: eGalley
Source: The publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | Barnes & Noble
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Blurb 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.
Almost two years ago, I read and reviewed "Every Other Day" by Ms. Barnes. When I heard about "The Naturals", I knew I wanted to read it - an author I enjoyed writing a mystery with a hint of paranormal, oh yeah. I wanted it. I was fortunate to receive a digital ARC from the publisher.
This book was darker than I expected but I enjoyed it. I'm not sure why the darkness took me by surprise, it is a book about serial killers, but nonetheless it did. Carrie is a teen with a knack for reading, or profiling, people. Some of her ability is natural and some of it learned form her late mother, a "fortune teller" who was good at reading people, though she didn't have Cassie's gift. That gift brings her to the attention of the FBI who recruit her for a program of teens with natural gifts similar to hers to hone their skills. I never really understood why the talents or gifts of the teens -spotting lies, statistics spouting, reading body language and emotions, etc - were treated as something other than normal abilites. They seem like normal enough skills, just ramped up. There's no background to indicate that they are paranormal though I kept waiting for some indication. I also didn't really buy the rationale for the FBI recruiting teens and training them. That part never really made sense to me.
There's a love triangle between Cassie, and the two boys in the program, Dean and Michael. There are two other teen girls but the boys are gaga in their own ways over new girl Cassie. Frankly, the triangle was unnecessary and added nothing to the story. Most of the characters also needed more fleshing out. But the mysteries, the serial killer, the profiling information, all were fascinating and kept me reading. There are some twists and turns and I was completely surprised by the identity of the killer, though when I looked back I realized that clues were there all along; well hidden but there.
The ending is ambiguous in that while some mysteries are solved and one killer found, others are left open as is the nature of Cassie's gift and the gifts of all of the teens in the program. Will there be more? The author's site hints at it; I hope so as there are still questions and I'd love to see Cassie and the others more fully developed. The story held my attention and it was a good read despite all of the questions I had.