ARC Review: The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

13597723Rating: 2 / 5
Genres: Young Adult, Action, Mystery
Release Date: November 5, 2013 by Disney-Hyperion
Number of pages: 304
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Goodreads | Amazon

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.


Man, this was such a huge letdown.

I was really looking forward to this book because I thought I’d finally get to read something like Criminal Minds or Lie To Me or, heck, even CSI. I loved those shows; I gobbled them all up when I first learned about their existence. The Naturals promised me that, but unfortunately, it was a disappointment all around.

These are what The Naturals consists of:

* 50% drama from an unnecessary love triangle;
* 20% of Cassie overthinking things, apart from being dull and lifeless;
* 20% of the characters being self-centered narcissists, basking in all their supposed talents and glories; and
* 10% actual plot

Of course, I should have expected this given that it’s, after all, Young Adult, but it’s kind of hard not to feel bummed out when you expected a story that actually explores the psyche of a criminal without being pretentious about it. It was already hard enough to suspend my disbelief of the super prestigious FBI hiring a bunch of teenagers who are supposedly “natural” at reading emotions, spotting liars, reading someone’s psyche, and are actually better than their adult counterparts who do this for a living, but for this book to add insult to injury… ugh.

Let me better explain my frustrations:

1.) Cassie. Throughout reading the book, I did not feel for this girl at all. I did not root for her, I did not like her. PERIOD. She was amazingly bland, and her 1st person narration felt like reading someone narrate a story from a detached point of view. Every time something huge happened, she sounded absolutely monotonous in describing “her feelings” (and there were honestly very little…) and the surroundings that the events turned out more anti-climactic than anything else.

She’s also nosy. Dear woman, if the guy doesn’t want to spill his secrets yet, don’t freaking force him. God, you make me crazy.

And she over-thinks. A LOT. I mean, okay, I guess if you’re a Natural profiler (yes, with a capital N, as portrayed in the book), that’s a given, but god, could she be please less pretentious and all-high-and-mighty about it? I get that she’s perceptive, but sweet baby Jesus, it annoyed me to no end how she would see someone do something in a particular manner and immediately conclude, “Ah, this person is like this! Ah, that person is like that!”

And yes, I get it, Cassie. You’re a Natural. You’re so good at observing people. You are SO perceptive. I get it. Stop rubbing it in.

2.) Side characters. The other characters have personalities, but they’re so cheesy and unoriginal. We have a cocky guy who thinks he’s all that and who’s smug all the time who can read emotions, we have the loner guy who has a dark tragic past who’s also a profiler, we have a bitchy girl who can spot lies, and we have a quirky girl who’s supposedly like Reid from Criminal Minds, who can give you statistics for the most mundane of things. Can they not be anymore stereotypical? T_T

AND YES, I GET IT. YOU’RE ALL FUCKING NATURALS!!! Is there a need to repeat your extraordinary talents over and over???

3.) Unnecessary love triangle. UGH. This part made me roll my eyes SO MUCH. As expected, the bland heroine enters the fray and the two guys in the team, of course, suddenly take an interest in her. She hasn’t done anything redeeming, she has no fucking personality, and I’m supposed to believe they both like her already? What the flying fuck?

One of the cheesiest moments in this novel was how they all decided to play a game of Truth or Dare (LOL!!!!!!) and of course she was dared to kiss one of them… OF COURSE… That had my eyes rolling around and around and around like a ferris wheel. And of course, the other guy strikes back by kissing her again later… and OF COURSE the heroine is torn between her feelings for the two as she’s always blushing at both of them T_T AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. And of course, by the end of the book, we still have no idea who she’s inclined to like more.

What saved it from becoming a 1 star was the ending and the plot that was present in the last 15 or so percent. A bit predictable, but it was interesting. There’s also no cliffhanger, and it ends nicely in a way there’s still room for more content in the future books.

Just fix this nonsense love triangle and add a personality in the heroine please and this could be better.

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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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  1. says

    Oh dear, sad to hear about all the problems with this novel, especially given the awesome CSI-like premise! I don’t think I will enjoy the annoying main character, she actually sounds quite judgemental. And always having their powers getting shoved down our throats doesn’t sound fun at all. Thanks for the review!

  2. says

    Awh, I’m sad it turned out like this! I was looking forward to this but reading this? “* 50% drama from an unnecessary love triangle;
    * 20% of Cassie overthinking things, apart from being dull and lifeless;
    * 20% of the characters being self-centered narcissists, basking in all their supposed talents and glories; and
    * 10% actual plot”

    Yeah, no.

    Thanks for the review ,3

  3. says

    Aww too bad you didn’t enjoy this :( I requested it on NG with the same expectations like you and I miraculously got approved a few days ago. Let’s see what I think of it…

  4. FayeFaye says

    Thank you so much, Melanie! The love triangle was the worst part I think… it was just so random and out of the blue and didn’t make sense to me. If I were any of the two guys, I wouldn’t have even bothered with her no-personality ass.