Series: The Naturals #2
Published by Disney-Hyperion on November 4, 2014
Genres: Romantic, Young Adult
Sexual Content: Kissing.
Reviewed by: Julia
Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.
But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?
With her trademark wit, brilliant plotting, and twists that no one will see coming, Jennifer Lynn Barnes will keep readers on the edge of their seats (and looking over their shoulders) as they race through the pages of this thrilling novel.
Romantic police procedurals are a television staple, and The Naturals series brings this winning dynamic to young adult fiction. The teens making up this crime solving team fairly leap off the page, young and sexy and gifted. While the "crime" side of KILLER INSTINCT felt like a rehash of book one, the bonds developing between Cassie and her team mates are fresh and effecting.
Though KILLER INSTINCT doesn't have magic for fantastical elements, the abilities of the Naturals follows a familiar superhero mythology. Rather than a bite from a radioactive spider, however, their abilities are derived from traumatic life experiences. Reading emotions, detecting lies, profiling... these skills impact their interpersonal dynamic as much as their case solving. While I would have liked to see the team in action on something other than another serial killer case, seeing these damaged, brilliant teens work together is still satisfying. And as for Cassie's love life, KILLER INSTINCT beautifully captures the consequences of choosing one of her team mates to date. Though the insular team environment makes this sound like a romance trope, Cassie's struggle feels more like than the usual love triangle.
While the characters outshone the plot, KILLER INSTINCT was well paced and gripping. Barnes focuses loving detail on all of the relationships, not just romantic ones, as the Naturals become a team... and perhaps the family none of them have had before.
- The Naturals - 4/5
- For teenagers dealing with similar emotional stakes and difficult relationships (but the other side of the law), try Holly Black's White Cat.