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The Naturals

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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.

308 pages, Hardcover

First published November 5, 2013

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About the author

Jennifer Lynn Barnes

37 books20.3k followers
Jennifer Lynn Barnes (who mostly goes by Jen) was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has been, in turn, a competitive cheerleader, a volleyball player, a dancer, a debutante, a primate cognition researcher, a teen model, a comic book geek, and a lemur aficionado. She's been writing for as long as she can remember, finished her first full book (which she now refers to as a "practice book" and which none of you will ever see) when she was still in high school, and then wrote Golden the summer after her freshman year in college, when she was nineteen.

Jen graduated high school in 2002, and from Yale University with a degree in cognitive science (the study of the brain and thought) in May of 2006. She'll be spending the 2006-2007 school year abroad, doing autism research at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,615 reviews
November 10, 2013

This book is Criminal Minds fanfiction, for the under-15 crowd. It takes a great deal of suspension of disbelief to read this book; and I'm not talking about the preposterousness of the idea that children---teenagers, can be FBI criminal investigators. The necessary suspension of disbelief from the reader's part is required in order to swallow the fact that a bunch of utterly incompetent, petty teenagers are capable of looking beyond their egotistical, self-centered noses.

There's this show I love called Criminal Minds. It features a team of FBI profilers at the Behavioral Analysis Unit. They take on difficult cases, involving mainly serial killers. The special agents make psychological profiles about the potential suspect, then using that information, narrow down the field of suspect until they get the right one. The show is entertainment, there is no argument on my part about that. Behavioral analysis is a bullshit art, at best. Criminal profilers have rarely been right, it's more of a matter of throwing a rock into the darkness in the hopes of eventually hitting someone in the face. It rarely happens, but they get it right sometimes. More than anything, it is a show with likeable, complex characters, and a wonderful team who puts their personal problems and quirks aside to work together like a well-oiled machine in order to solve a case.

Well-oiled machine is not the word I would use to describe the characters in this book and their cohesiveness. The teenagers in this book work together as well as an AK-47 that's been left to rust for 50 years in the mud of a long-forgotten battlefield; the parts do not function, and the damn gun might blow up and shoot you by accident in the face at any given moment.

Still, this book is based on that premise. It is a team of teen profilers who use the word "UNSUB" to describe an unknown subject. The word UNSUB is strictly a TV-based term, and it was Criminal Minds that popularized the use of the word. To me, this is nothing more than adolescent Criminal Minds fanfiction, without the likeable, complex characters.

Summary: 17-year old Cassandra (Cassie) lives with her large extended Italian family, working part-time as a waitress. Her mother has been murdered 5 years ago, and her father is out of the picture (see what I mean about parents in YA fiction? Dead or gone 90% of the time). Cassie has always had a skill for reading people, for predicting what they want. Right now, her skills are being used for nothing more than to predict what her customers are going to order next from the menu. A boy, a sexy boy appears from nowhere, well-dressed, too handsome for his own good, and asks her to predict how he prefers his eggs:
“What kind of eggs?” I asked.
“You tell me.” The boy’s words caught me off guard.
I stared at him through the wisps of hair still covering my face. “You want me to guess how you want your eggs cooked?”
He smiled. “Why not?”
And just like that, the gauntlet was thrown.
“Not scrambled,” I said, thinking out loud. Scrambled eggs were too average, too common, and this was a guy who liked to be a little bit different. Not too different, though, which ruled out poached—at least in a place like this. Sunny-side up would have been too messy for him; over hard wouldn’t be messy enough.
“Over easy.” I was as sure of the conclusion as I was of the color of his eyes. He smiled and closed his menu.
Over easy eggs! Clearly, Cassie is a genius worthy of the FBI. Just like that, she is drafted to join a special unit in the FBI. The Naturals. She lives and trains with four other teenagers, each with their own special skills. They may be kids, but they're soooooooooo much better than the real FBI agents.
No matter how long they did this job, or how much training they had, these agents would never have instincts as finely honed as ours.
Teen Titans Power, YEAH!

The kids, and they are kids---try to solve old cases for practice, they do training on random everyday subjects at malls, food courts. The teenagers in the prorgam play games, they flirt, they kiss. And there might be a serial killer out there who wants to collect Cassie as his prize.

Let's get this straight, this is Criminal Minds fanfiction, but it does not have an iota of the enjoyability.

Criminal Minds has amazing, complex characters
The teens in the Naturals are teenagers. For better or worse. They have special abilities, there is no doubt of that, but I have serious doubts as to their judgment and their competence to actually fulfil their purpose when 90% of the times, they act like---well, really immature teenagers. The characters are teenagers who act positively juvenile; they have special abilities, but that is the limit to my interest towards them. There is nothing about the characters that make them stand out, that make me sympathize with them, that make me like them, despite the author's attempt at giving them sad backstories. They are merely teenagers who get on my nerves.

We have Dean, who is the James-Dean-esque weightlifting, bulky teenaged deliquent who looks ready to punch someone in the face at any second. Dean is a profiler, like Cassie. We have Lia, the sexy Asian girl, who wants to slither onto Michael's lap at any given second. Her specialty is lying, at detecting liars. We have Michael, the wealthy, (multiple) Porsche-owning trust funded, blue-blooded, smug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug son-of-a-bitch whose sole purpose in life is to make Dean lose control and to make Cassie want to rip his head off (when she's not kissing him, that is). We have Sloane, the duller than dull factoid spouter who is boring, and who's pretty much useless. I mean, anyone can spout off random-ass facts. I would be a much better Sloane. I mean, I have personality.

Cassie herself is boring, without personality. Cassie reminds me of geniuses who are so brilliant in one category that they are completely lacking in everything else in life. Life skills. Personality. Cassie is a good profiler, not great, I have a lot of skepticism where her skills are concerned, and I have to accept the fact that her natural talents are that---natural, inside her, because there is no explaining her talents otherwise. Frankly, Cassie never exhibits many signs of intelligence besides for her Natural Profiling skill.

The rest of the characters are largely unlikeable in one way or another, they are either surly, or selfish, or bitchy, or snarky, or else they blend into the shadow so much I hardly remember they're there. I think that's why Sloane spouts off so many random facts. If she didn't speak up once in awhile to say something completely random like "Less than point-five percent of the words in the English language contain all five vowels,” I would completely forget that she has ever been there.

Criminal Minds does not concern itself about their team playing petty mind games with each other, nor do they play Truth-Or-Dare
There is so much antipathy between the characters. Dean and Michael are ready to strangle each other at any given second, and while Dean keeps quiet and stay true to his bad-boy-loner trope, Michaels is the Naturals version of The Simpson's Nelson Muntz, pointing his finger in Dean's face, going HAW-HAW!!!!!!
“Have you ever seen The Bad Seed?” he inquired politely. “The movie.”
A muscle in Dean’s jaw twitched. “No.”
Michael grinned. “I have.”
Dean stood up. “I’m done here.”
**note: Dean's father is a serial killer, hence the Bad Seed joke. The Bad Seed is a movie where the child turns out to be an evil, murdering monstrosity.**

Criminal Minds does not concern itself with a fucking love triangle
There's Cassie! Who will she fall for?! Is it bad-boy loner Dean? The surly boy who never, ever, EVEEEEEEEEER lets anyone close to his heart---until Cassie comes along! Or will Cassie fall for Michael! Michael with his movie-star good looks and multiple Porsches who hides his nonchalance behind a snarky exterior, never letting anyone see the warm, melty, oozing, cheesy (sorry, I haven't eaten dinner yet), fluffy interior. Over easy, indeed!

Or will it be Lia! Lia with her constant flirtation with Michael! Or does Lia love Dean instead?! Noooooooooo!

Fucking gag me, please.

Criminal Minds never has a fucking touching romantic moment right after leaving a crime scene with dead bloodied bodies and a killer on the loose
When Agent Starmans glanced in the room, all he saw was [him] and me.
The kiss in the pool was nothing compared to this. Then, our lips had barely brushed. Now, my lips were opening. Our mouths were crushed together. His hand traveled from my neck down to my lower back. My lips tingled, and I leaned into the kiss, shifting my body until I could feel the heat from his in my arms, my chest, my stomach.

Criminal Minds has Reid. Sloane is no Reid
Really, Sloane is the most useless character in the world. She does absolutely nothing besides spouting off random facts:
Sloane on coffee was a bit like an auctioneer on speed. The numbers poured out of her mouth rapid-fire, a statistic for every occasion. For eight hours.
“Sixteen percent of American men have blue eyes,” she informed me blithely. “But over forty percent of male TV doctors do.”
Oh, and she's a really good hugger. Because every FBI investigative team needs a hugger. For hugs.
Sloane slipped an arm around my waist. “There are fourteen varieties of hugs,” she said. “This is one of them.”
Criminal Minds does not try to slut-shame a girl
Lia. Poor Lia. She is sleek, she is Asian, she is sexy, she is tall. She also has a special ability to lie. She wears barely-there clothes. She makes numerous sexual innuendoes.
Agent Locke added, meeting Lia’s eyes, “she’s a very good liar.”
Lia didn’t seem to take offense at the agent’s words. “I’m also bilingual,” she said. “And very, very flexible.”
The second very was aimed directly at Michael.
Naturally, she's to be shamed for the way she dresses. Naturally she hits on the guys. Naturally, she eats ice cream for breakfast (in a sexual manner) and wears silk pajamas that leaves nothing to the imagination. Can we not do this, please? Can we just have normal characters who just happen to like dressing that way without writing it in a way so that the reader hates them?

If you want to read books about serial killers, I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga is a good book. Alternately, you can just go watch Criminal Minds itself. Either way, I can guarantee you will get more enjoyment from either than you will ever get out of this book.
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,092 reviews6,579 followers
July 3, 2019
1.) The Naturals ★★★★.5
2.) Killer Instinct ★★★★
3.) All In ★★★★.5
4.) Bad Blood ★★★★.5


Wasn't as good as the first time because obviously I knew who the killer was, but still, this series is so good!

*4.5 STARS*
WOW. What a way to start off my reading year! This literally is a YA version of Criminal Minds with a tiny paranormal twist. The FBI has found and recruited some teenagers who are 'naturals' at certain abilities that the FBI want to trial in a new program that could help to solve some cold cases. The main character Cassie is a natural profiler and ever since she stumbled across the scene of her mother's murder (although her body was never found), she's felt like something in her life was missing. She meets these new people and learns all about profiling and victimology and it's just SO exciting I literally read this book in ONE sitting! There is a love triangle introduced which at first had me real angry, but thankfully the characters realised they had more important things to worry about so that was really put on the back burner while they were trying to find a particular serial killer that WAS SO CRAZY. I literally did not see anything coming, which let's be honest, is kinda rare these days in a YA book. I absolutely LOVED this and I can't wait to continue on with the series!

Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge Notes:
- 31. A YA book
Profile Image for L A i N E Y (will be back).
394 reviews675 followers
December 23, 2017
You know what astounds me about these MCs in YA literature??

Their level of self-confidence which easily, and almost always, borders on the self-centered/self-delusional-ness territory.

I truly can't imagine anyone would hurt other people for my sake at all, let alone to actually end their lives.

But nope, not a problem for our Cassie here. Cassie who almost casually stated "I knew suddenly that he could pull the trigger. He wouldn’t hesitate. If he thought I was in danger, he would put a bullet in the other guy’s head.”

And all this after they had known each other for what? A decade? Ha! If only. No, she met him a month / few months ago. There was no solid timeline from what I remember. But i’m sure those were the most ‘epic’ weeks of their lives *eyeroll*

A lot of times, the book feels overreaching with all the incredibly unnatural 'naturals' abilities. While the writing and mystery/story were decent enough, the book would have benefited so much from not having this perplexing, pointless love triangle in it - just felt like adding another layer of unbelievableness to an already unrealistic book to me.

rating: ★★


The cover is so simple and so effing creepy!!

Is that a promise??

I'll hold you to it, Book.

Profile Image for Faye, la Patata.
492 reviews2,115 followers
August 25, 2013

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.
May 22, 2023

these characters, this team, the plot, the lil bits of romance!!!

yes. just YES.
Profile Image for Veronica Morfi.
Author 3 books400 followers
December 23, 2014
Rating: 4.5/5

The Naturals is a great book for fans of Criminal Minds, CSI and shows like them. I am a fan of all those kind of shows and when I read the blurb of this book I was dying to get my hands on it. And I am really glad I did. This had mystery, murder, serieal killers, kids with powers (not exactly supernatural powers bu still...), romance, fighting. It was just perfect. Exactly what I was looking for.

The Naturals are a group of teenagers that are trained by the FBI to solve mostly cold cases of serieal killers. All five kids have some amazing powers.

After Cassie joins the group some strange murders start happening close to town. Women are found dead, their faces curved up. Half of them are red-heads and half of them worked as psychics. Cassie's mom was both and she was also murdered 5 years ago with no clue of where her body was. Cassie believes that this case is connected to her mother's and she is determined to find the killer.

If the description so far haven't caught your eye let me tell you that this book was absolutely amazing. There were five teenagers living in the same house, with all the drama that may cause. We got to get inside the killers mind with a few chapters from a YOU point of view, those were the creepiest ones. Also it was amazing to see the little details that profilers use to find out more about the UNSUBs and their victims.

I also really enjoyed the romance in this one. Even though it is a love triangle it's so perfectly done that I still don't know who Cassie will choose. Usually it's so easy to tell, it's like the third person is there just for argument's sake. But in this one both Michael and Dean have this great chemistry with Cassie. They are very different and mysterious and I have no idea what's going to happen with them.

All in all, this was fast-paced, action paked, full of serial killers, mystery, following clues and unique characters. I can't wait for the next one.
Profile Image for booksnpenguins (wingspan matters).
757 reviews2,312 followers
November 17, 2017
Easiest five stars I've given a book these past six months.
To be fairly honest, it was a 4,5 at the start because it has little flaws that prevent it from being absolutely perfect, but since it put me in such a fierce and euphoric mood, I decided to round the ratings up. After all, if a book makes you feel something positive, that's a start, and a very good one.
I mean, yesterday I finished The Song of Achilles and, even if I loved it with a burning passion, it also left me numb like a rock because it drained all the emotions out of me, so, as I was also trying not to drown in feels, this book and its characters helped a lot.
I'll definitely post a better review later because I need to gush about it :D
Profile Image for Belle.
511 reviews515 followers
November 22, 2017

“Sloane slipped an arm around my waist. "There are fourteen varieties of hugs," she said. "This is one of them.”

This book sparked my interest when I saw it marketed as a teenage Criminal Minds, teens with natural talents (such as profiling, statistics, detection of deception and emotion), being recruited by the FBI to help crack cold cases.

The few things that peaked my interest didn't really come to fruition, there wasn't much to compare to Criminal Minds and there was no cracking of cold cases. The 'serial killer' case that this story followed wasn't a main point until the last quarter, which meant the majority of the book dragged.

This book was more of a bad teenage drama than a YA thriller, and I didn't enjoy the petty going's on. The dramas began pretty early on when the main character, seventeen year old Cassie, is removed from the care of her family and into the FBI safe house where four other teenaged FBI 'naturals' lived. There was a painful teenage love triangle (no real surprise there) and the usual girl/girl bitchiness.

The only teenage character I actually enjoyed was Sloane, who was a beautiful and pure soul. She was adorably terrible at anything social and was easily bribed with coffee. So, a lot like me.

I get what the author was trying to achieve by using teenagers, but I felt like it wasn't executed in the best way. There was no real mention of any of the teens' family, and even the main character's family wasn't mentioned after she left their care. The whole story seemed pretty unbelievable, mostly because they were all minors.

My biggest issue was without a doubt, the teenage angst. I have a younger sister who is the definition of teenage angst (seriously, look up the definition and she's listed as a an example) and as much as I love her, she's used up my limit for teenage angst. It made my skin crawl, I was here for serial killers and kickass teenage crime solvers, and I got a fucking love triangle. The only thing worse than a love triangle, is a teenage love triangle. I think you get my message at this point, teenage anything angst is not my favourite thing.

Unfortunately, I guessed the plot and killer pretty early on, picking up the supposedly subtle clues. Still, I enjoyed the actual crime fighting section of the book and the little chapters in the killer's point of view were a nice touch. There were a few loose ends and plot holes that disappointed me a little, but the overall serial killer plot line was intriguing.


authors, pls stop w/ these love triangles. they suck. u suck.
Profile Image for Maggie ☘.
534 reviews652 followers
February 13, 2019
“None of us had normal childhoods," Sloane said quietly. "If we had, we wouldn't be Naturals.”

This is kind of unusual review for me, since I've already read the first three book in this series (In very record time!) Actually finished the third book - All In - just right now. This review will be completely spoiler free for all three books, I just want to mention a few of my thoughts on the characters and The Naturals series overall. I have to say that the first book was just a starter, each book is better than the former, and it all comes amazingly together in the third one! (Which is also my favourite so far and I don't think any other book from this series can surpass that one). So definitely recommended. Go read this series, people!

This is my second series from Jennifer Lynn Barnes (the first one being The Fixer), which I both adored, and now I can safely say I'm going to read her other novels as well, especially her crimi/ psychological series. Because even though I haven't read any fantasy by her yet, I think she'd be best at these kinds of books.

“Every person in this house was fundamentally screwed up to the depths of our dark and shadowy souls.”


The Naturals series is highly addictive, intriguing and gripping Young Adult crime series which mainly centers on five people, each with special abilities to solve crimes and catch serial killers for FBI.

It was seriously such a page-turner for me! Obviously, since I didn't give it full five stars, it's not perfect. There's some teen drama and indecisiveness regarding the romance going on here in the first two books, but do not fear, the third book had no such thing! (And here I was fearing while reading book one that the love triangle would stretch till the last book. Surprise, surprise!) But even then there were much more important things going on in this series than the romance, it never took center stage in my opinion.


“Agent Sterling turned back to the boxes on her bed. “When the odds are bad,” she said, removing something from one of them, “you change the rules.”

The plot flows swiftly and there aren't many dull moments, the mysteries in every book are pretty dark and inteligently written. There were always some little hints here and there throughout the stories, and each investigation was greatly done. I guessed some of the identities of the killers alongside the characters, but some other plot-twists were hugely surprising! So if you get through the fact that it's about five teenagers who are working for the FBI and solving murders (and even though there are some restrictions, the authorities ultimately lets them), this series is very clever. (Just like The Fixer, which is btw also recommended!)


“Nothing hurts you unless you let it.”

It's clear to see that Jennifer Lynn Barnes studied psychology and has degree in cognitive science (the study of the brain and thought), because none of these characters (even the side ones) are flat, and as the series progresses they only become more layered and complicated. Believable.
Every last one of them gets the attention he/she deserves - the main heroine, the other four kids, the old marine sniper who's taking care of them, the FBI agents and of course, the killers. I was especially very surprised about the YOU chapters.
The story is not only told from the point of view of our main heroine Cassie, but also from each different killer in every book. These little chapters were suprisingly and sometimes sickeningly detailed, which was pretty surprising for YA in my opinion. The author doesn't play nice with her readers, she makes them loathe the villains, but also understand their motives, the histories that made them into the monsters they are. It's fascinating.

“Some people said that broken bones grew back stronger. On the good days, I told myself that was true, that each time the world tried to break me, I became a little less breakable. On the bad days, I suspected that I would always be broken, that parts of me would never be quite right—and that those were the parts that made me good at the job.
Those were the parts that made this house and the people in it home.”

✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨✨✨✨

➵ Cassie Hobbes -
Natural Ability: The Profiler


She's ultimately great and very relatable main heroine. Sometimes she acts too much teenagey, especially in the beginning of this series, but can surprise you with her mind and courage.
As the series goes, her characters gets through more and more trials, have some battle scars, but lives, survives and becomes so much more fascinating than she was before.

✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨✨✨✨

➵ Dean Redding -
Natural Ability: The Profiler

“Maybe, to do what you and I do, we have to have a little bit of monsters in us.”


It's pretty hard to decide since all five of the characters are distinctive and amazing but I think he comes as my favourite from them.
I can't say too much about him, because hello spoilers, but his history, his struggles... I can definitely understand why he wouldn't want people close after that, why he'd have problems to open up, his low sense of worth, his fear of himself.
All of it was so well done, so psychologically intriguing, dark and painful. One cannot help but be fascinated and maybe a little in love with his character.

✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨✨✨✨

➵ Lia Zhang -
Natural Ability: Deception Specialist

“Too young to party, just old enough to participate in federal investigations of serial murder.” Lia let out an elaborate sigh. “Story of my life.”


When she first stormed on the scene, I thought for sure there will be once again the annoying ex-girlfriend who hates the MC for no reason whatsoever and girl hate over a guy.. Well, surprise surprise! This is not the case. Yes, sometimes it seems that she hates Cassie, but there's more to it than that. She has problems with trust, she doesn't show people her real self, because she's protecting herself from them in a way. There's definitely no insta-friendship between Cassie and Lia, I love their interactions anyway. Her past is very complicated - Ok, you can just note here that EVERYONE'S past is complicated here. And I mean it in the best possible way - and truth be said I still don't know all of it, she's complex and layered character like that! It takes some time to truly know who she is, to know when she tells the truth and when she deceives. She hides under layers of different personalities, she can lie and detect lies effortlessly. Alongside with Dean, she's the most fascinating character, and I love her probably just as much as him.

✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨✨✨✨

➵ Michael Townsend -
Natural Ability: Emotion Reader

“Luckily for us, I've never met a bad idea I did not immediately embrace like the dearest of friends.”


I don't have that much to say about him, besides the fact that he is pretty fun character (but in no way as amazing and fun as Asher from The Fixer!)
I admit, I have kind of hate to like relationship with this guy. His past wasn't all sunshine and roses either, but I just didn't really love to him like I did the others. Mainly because this guy seemed like such a player, that's why I preferred Dean with Cassie and Michael with Lia from the get go of this book. Lia could handle him more, and personality wise, they seem like a much better fit. Plus he has some serious anger issues, which I would normally loathe to read about, but in his case I think it was understandable, well done psychologically and he was in no way abusive toward Cassie or Lia, so there's that. Overall I did like him. Only, he's my least favourite from the five.
And yes, there's a love-triangle again.. Sigh.. Which is one of the few things about this series that I didn't really like. It was unecessary. And now after finishing book three, I breathe a sigh of relief, because there was none now.

✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨✨✨✨

➵ Sloane Tarvish -
Natural ability: Numerical Expert

“I wondered how much of Sloane’s fascination with numbers had arisen during moments like this one, when numbers were easy and people were hard.”


She's just such a sweet character! Sloane love numbers and statistics. She's practically a walking Encyclopedia and Wikipedia in one.
Sloane doesn't really understand basic 'normal' human interactions and relationships. She experiences and deals with emotions in slightly different way, when she can't deal with them, she obsessively does something else, mostly her work for the cases. She's highly intelligent. Loves math and statistics. I adore this girl, but really... can't relate.

✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨ ✨✨✨✨

“It's not the bad memories that tear a person apart. It's the good ones.”


All in all, intelligent Ya Crimi series about five teens with special abilities (not paranormal) who solve murders, try to save people, form different relationships and even in their new lives, past comes haunting them each back eventually. The psychological matters are greatly and believably done, the investigations intriguing and plot addictive. I would without doubt recommend for you to give The Naturals a try.

“Home isn't a place, Cassie.' The memory crept up on me. 'Home is the people who love you most, the people who will always love you, forever and ever, no matter what.”


My rating of The Naturals series -

The Naturals ★★★★☆ (4/5 stars)

Killer Instinct ★★★★☆ (4.5/5 stars)

All In ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)

Bad Blood ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)

Twelve ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)
Profile Image for Nadia Awadi.
188 reviews247 followers
July 6, 2018
Love triangles are the bane of enjoying YA books peacefully.

First of all, let me tell you about how I read this series and DNF'ed it.

Innocent 16-year-old Nedia stumbled upon a series called THE NATURALS. She liked the series. The series liked her back. She found a fictional boyfriend called Michael. She started shipping Michael and Cassie. Nedia was certain that they will end up together. How could they not? But, Oh, no! Nedia was so so wrong. She shipped the wrong ship. That ship was sinking. And that's how Nedia left the ship and the series. And looked into the sunset with tears running down her face. Then she read a lot of other books, ate chocolate and shipped other people.

Beautiful story, I know. I came back to finish the series while keeping in mind to ship Cassie and Dean. And now, I can see how Dean is the bad boy with a dark past who needs a hug. I DO. Yet, the author had so many good scenes with Michael and Cassie. SO MANY. I was deceived!

I will just stop being dramatic and talk about the book.

Rating 4,5- should've been 5 but the love triangle ruined it-stars.

The Plot

Cassie has been always good at reading people. Figuring them out. A skill that gets her into a special program for the FBI where she will use her ability to catch serial killers. Her first case is related to her mother's death. Will Cassie be able to solve the case? or is the killer too clever?

The plot was interesting, fast paced and will keep you at the edge of your seat. It's also original. Its greatest aspect is the killer's chapters. It's so creepy and weirdly entertaining.

The Characters

Despite being in a love triangle. She was a decent character. She's a natural profiler. I really liked the fact that she was level-headed through it all: Her mother's murder, FBI and serial killers. She always got her emotions under control and analysed everything. BUT when it came to love. She was like: What's happening to me? Michael is so beautiful, witty and mysterious. Dean is such a bad boy, with lean muscle and a dark past. Michael or Dean? Dean or Michael? To be honest, I don't mind love triangles that much when the real ship is obvious. But this book played with my emotions.

He's so mysterious. Has a mask under his mask. Sometimes an ass-hole. But most of the time, a lonely soul who cares for Cassie. He made me laugh. And I just really liked him. He was so dreamy.
He's also a natural who has a knack for reading people's emotions.

Now, that I'm twenty. I know that Dean is THE ONE. In all honesty, I should've loved him. He's kind of a lost puppy with a dark past. BUT he was too withdrawn even for my taste. And we don't see that much of him in this book. He's also a natural profiler. Just like Cassie. *I'm rolling my eyes*

She's a pathological liar and detects any lie. Super interesting. And likes trouble.

Another great character, with a skill related to statistics and probabilities. Knows a lot of random scary facts. And weirdly sweet.

The writing
pretty good but doesn't stand out.

Why I recommend this book
*Original plot
*fast paced
*Action packed
*Psychopath's chapters
*Pretty short
*Great cast of characters

Even though, I had a problem with the love triangle, I still really enjoyed this book. I think this series is underrated and I hope more people give it a chance. I'm just salty I didn't get the ship right the first time.

Thank you for reading this review, and I hope you enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Emma Giordano.
317 reviews116k followers
May 25, 2014
I honestly didn't even have time to add this to my "currently reading" shelf because i completed this book in whopping 2 1/2 hours, WOAH. This book was absolutely phenomenal! I am so compelled to do a booktube review of it because there are just so many amazing things I have to say about it! It was ridiculously fast paced and never had a dull moment. The author actually just tweeted me back telling me the sequel comes out in November, because I had NO IDEA it was a series!!!! I cannot wait for more :)
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,365 followers
October 20, 2013
The Naturals is a hit or miss for me and very hard to review. Some parts of the book I really enjoyed, while others I found lacking. To give you an example - I'm not even sure if this book is part paranormal or not. As a serial killer mystery, however, it has its fair share of appealing qualities.

This novel starts by introducing us to our protagonist, Cassie, who's always been good at reading people with only the tiniest of details. She quickly meets with an FBI team who takes her on to train as a profiler. That is about all we get as an introduction. Forget learning very much about this classified Naturals program. Moreover, we don't find out where these special abilities come from. Are we supposed to assume they're genetically modified kids, or just very talented? It seems to enforce the fact these kids' abilities are not "normal", but no explanations are ever given to make this something other than speculation. You simply have to take this part at face value. Furthermore, we have one dreadful love triangle in the mix, as well as side characters who could have used a lot of work - most are very two dimensional. As for Cassie, while I did like the profiling side of her - I've always had a fascination with criminal profiling - I found her narration lacked a certain vibrancy. I did not dislike her, exactly, but her personality was quite monotonous and failed to turn her into a memorable character.

The part that did keep my interest was the serial killer storyline. Being a big fan of crime mysteries, this part was right up my alley. The profiling bits were by far the most interesting. We see them pick up on slight details that throws them directly into the head of this killer or the event in question. Being in training, the characters have to explain what brought them to these conclusions, so fortunately this part did not lack explanation. We get to see the train of thought, from A to Z, that these profilers form with the smallest of clues. Having read my fair share of books on the matter I found it to be well researched on that front. The mystery itself did have me stumped for most of the book which was a nice change, and even if I had guessed the culprit, I would not have known the motive behind it. It was well thought-out.

The Naturals is an entertaining novel with an engaging mystery, but it lacks in areas that might have made it possible for it to stand out. As is, I finished this book 3 days ago and it's already starting to fade from memory.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Maddie.
557 reviews1,136 followers
May 22, 2016
WOAH. This was AMAZING! I really didn't expect to love it this much, but you can't argue with Xavier's Institute vibes and serial killer mysteries! It had my favourite gender balance of characters, three girls and two boys, was blurbed by Ally Carter and was all about teens training to be part of the FBI...literally all the best things combined into one book.

Sidenote: Although there may be a love triangle, it's VERY RESPECTFUL of everyone's feelings. I'll give an example: (to set the scene, this is a kiss moment like Clary, Jace and Simon's when Simon bursts in on the other two.) "I forced myself not to scramble backward, not to lean away [...] I wouldn't do that to him. The kiss might have started as a distraction [...] but I'd kissed him back and I wasn't going to turn around and make him feel like nothing just because [the other guy] was standing in the doorway and there was something there between him and me too.'

I really appreciated how aware Cassie was of both boy's feelings, and think this is how ALL love triangle relationships should be dealt with!
Profile Image for Julia.
235 reviews22 followers
December 12, 2013
It was a freaking mega fantastic book. I simply couldn't stop reading it. It was mind-blowing and thrilling at the same time.
I haven't been on such emotional roller coaster for a long time. I loved one characters, I hated another but after some pages everything became vice versa.
It was especially interesting to read the profiler's job - all their I-You-UNSUB thing. It gives you a lot to think and a lot to analize (and believe me I've seen all the episodes of CSI LOL).
Sometimes you just forget that they are children. Yeh children with natural abilities but then at some time you remember it and you're scared. Scared because you understand that they'll never be ordinary cheerful teenagers but always something more - hiding everything from the others and themselves as well.
I love this book and I am desperately looking forward to the second one...
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
724 reviews1,202 followers
August 8, 2018
Via The Obsesses Bookseller at www.nikihawkes.com

I want to start out by saying that I loved this book. It was intense, fast-paced, fascinating, and totally absorbing. In short, it had everything I’d hoped to find in a novel but with that extra-special something that turned it from great to phenomenal! It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, and was definitely a “drop everything until you finish it” type of read. I plan on recommending it as often as I can, and here are a few reasons why:

Concept: this was such a cool book! In a market flooded with protagonists sporting supernatural abilities, we forget sometimes how strong people can be without them. These teens can solve crimes by using different elements of observation and analysis, and I found the process by which they did this entirely fascinating. What’s more, there were different types of analyzers – the main character could predict with great accuracy by observing people’s personalities and tendencies, while other characters did things like analyzing emotion, detect lies, and (my favorite) utilize statistics and probability. They fine-tune all their abilities at a miniature FBI boarding school through case studies and simulations. I’ll say it again, it was fascinating!

Story: The book was composed brilliantly. It was essentially a murder mystery that took place over the course of a particular serial killer’s series of crimes. Every so often, we’d get a glimpse into the killer’s mind which majorly creeped me out and made the whole story more intense. I often see writers struggle to convey a well-rounded villain, especially when they’re presented in short snippets before each chapter. Barnes is one of the few I’ve read to not only nailed the creepy, believable villain part but did it without losing any momentum for the story.

Writing: there’s so many elements about the novel that I found clever, even aside from the things and I talked about above. Even the way the story was composed was brilliant – there were so many elements you could tell it took a lot of time and thought, and it came together seamlessly. Every scene had a purpose and added to the snowballing journey to one heck of an ending. I got so involved that I held my breath in places. What’s more, although I had dozens of theories, I never really knew for sure “who did it” until the end.

Overall, this has become one of my favorite books ever and I can see myself reading it over and over again in the future (even though I already know who the murderer is). I’m also planning on reading everything this author has published, as she’s quickly become one of my new favorites!

Recommended Reading: I’m going to suggest this one to any customer looking for their next great read in the teen department (heck, I’ll probably bring it up to people browsing in mystery and fiction too because it’s one of those books that has potential for wide audience appeal). I’ll especially be on the lookout for anybody who loves mysteries and shows like NCIS and Criminal Minds (or to people like me who have always been fascinated by those shows but are too squeamish to watch them). I can’t wait to talk to other readers who loved it too!
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,019 reviews15.7k followers
June 29, 2015
This is my first book by this author, but definitely not the last! Cassie is a natural born profiler, and is recruited by the FBI, to participate in a program with other natural born teens. This book had a bit of everything it's a mystery, some romance, some thrills, and lots and lots of twists and turns. I enjoyed all the characters and found it interesting how they used their gifts. Can you imagine playing truth or dare with somebody who always knows if you're lying or not? Are crushing on a guy who can detect how everyone around him feels? This book had me guessing until the end, it's the kind of book you can stay up all night for, I guess I'm saying read this book!
Profile Image for Izza Mae (books&teacups).
146 reviews51 followers
June 3, 2019
I don't usually read mystery/thriller novels because I get easily bored with it - I'll skim it until I get to the last chapter and read its conclusion because my impatient mind would want to know immediately what happened, who the real killer is, and how the characters solved it.

But with this book, I wanted to savor every single sentence and stay with the characters all throughout. This book made me stay.

This book stars teenagers who are natural at solving crimes, hence the name of the book. They could pinpoint something about a person or an object by just merely observing and listening which comes to them as normal as blinking. Someone can easily say that you are lying, someone could read your emotions as if you're speaking them yourself, someone can spout nonsensical statistics about something, and someone can predict what you do, what you did, and what you're about to do. That's how awesome these kids are.

Put them in a crime scene and they'll be a big help to the FBI. But remember the term "teenagers." And that means that they are not allowed within an active crime investigation. They only get to see and study files that were previously solved, or old crimes that were not solved for some time or cold cases as they say.

But this changed when one of them was threatened to be killed by a serial killer on the loose. They were let in the investigation and their superior mind were used to try to solve the case.

I can give more details but I do not want to spoil the whole story and that just kills the reason of the book being a mystery/thriller.

But I can assure you that this book is worth your time if you're into crime investigations.

I could've given this book a 5-star rating but I was not quite satisfied with the conclusion. So I'll give it 4 stars for now.
Profile Image for Willow Anne.
413 reviews82 followers
October 21, 2022
Was this basically Grayson and Jameson all over again but with different names and FBI crime version? Oh, 100%. But did I love it all over again? Absolutely.

The cover is horrible, and I loved The Inheritance Games way better, but I still really liked this. I loved the characters and the plot and the mystery of it all, and it got rid of my headache so yay!

I was feeling like reading something easy, something YA, and something fun with a side of romance. And this was totally it. I just had so much fun reading this!

My only complaint is that I really like the name

Honestly I'm not sure if I would have read it anytime soon if my friend hadn't lent it to me, so I'm really glad she bought it and forced me to read it!
Profile Image for pstreads.
264 reviews62 followers
December 20, 2014
Duuuuude. This was surprisingly dark considering it's genre. I was not expecting this to be as good as it is. I even lost a little sleep so, kudos Ms. Barnes, kudos. This was supposed to be a filler book that was kinda just there and I don't know how to NOT read... But damn. I'm mentally shooting myself for not having picked it up sooner! I adore finding little treasures like this hiding in the unpredictable abyss of literature that is YA. Will definitely explore more of this series in the future!
Profile Image for Elena.
154 reviews73 followers
December 28, 2021
I was putting off reading this book for months, I don’t know why but I regret doing it so much. I freaking adored every second of this book and it’s my top 3. Jennifer Lynn Barnes, you did it……again. Two of my top 3 are written by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, the other book being The Inheritance Games which I enjoyed just as much. This was fun, mysterious, and relatable and made me want to wait for Micheal to come to a coffee shop and leave me Agent Briggs's number. I want to join the naturals program like…..now(even though I got no skills and I am no human lie detector nor profiler) but still.
Five years ago Cassie Hobbes’ mother was stabbed and her blood was splattered all across the room, her body was never found and we don’t’ even know if she is dead. Now, Cassie lives with her mom’s family and works in a coffee shop. She has always been able to read people like an open book and knows exactly what the customers are going to order thanks to her mother who taught her all this. One day, she gets approached by the FBI to work on cold cases with a group of naturals just like her. She agrees to work with them only because she wants to find her mother's murderer.
That’s all you need to know about this book to jump in and have the best time. The best part about this is that Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a professor of psychology which makes the facts right in this book and makes it very very believable. She knows exactly what she is doing. Another thing I absolutely adore about her books (even if I have only read two) is the puzzles that are present in them. You just have such a fun time solving all those little puzzles that keep you hooked and guessing till the end.
Reasons you should read this
• This was extremely fast-paced and you could pretty much read this in one sitting
• Round characters with their own skill set and personality(Micheal being my fav)
• The science behind the crimes is on point(of course it will be)
• Serial killers!!!!!!!
• Characters with solid backstories and their own thing to hide
• Gripping writing style
• Just enough intensity, unlike some I have read that sell you contemporary books in the name of a thriller.
The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the annoying love triangle. I don’t know why the hell it was present and why it was necessary at all ( I am angrier because my ship isn’t sailing) but hey, it’s early 2010s YA so what do you even expect, huh? There is this scene where Cassie is like I think he is trying to protect me but girllll, you met him like a day ago, please calm the heck down. I was rolling my eyes real hard with this.
Profile Image for K..
3,667 reviews1,006 followers
July 27, 2020
Trigger warnings: murder, blood, death of a parent, stalking, serial killers.

I've been catching up on the recent seasons of Criminal Minds lately (don't bother, they're crap) and that reminded me of this series and I figured it was time for a reread. And given that I flew through the first book in a single afternoon, yup. It was definitely time for a reread. I'm looking forward to rereading the rest of them next month because they're utterly gripping and the characters are great.

So the second I heard April say that this was like a young adult version of Criminal Minds, I knew I had to read it. And that's a pretty stinking accurate description of this book.

The gist of it is that there's a secret FBI program recruiting teenagers with super powerful natural abilities where, like, behavioural analysis is concerned. It's basically the BAU, but with teens.

This one is basically just setting the scene when Cassie gets recruited to the program. There's some minor love triangle nonsense going on that made me roll my eyes more than a few times, but on the whole, this was creepy and gripping and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Mir.
4,862 reviews5,006 followers
December 10, 2015
This book is a built-in negation of its own premise.

Cassandra and her fellow teens are supposed to be "naturals" at reading people and deducing clue to their behavior (eg. knowing what motivates serial killers, telling when people are lying, etc) but this only ever happens in controlled testing situations. Throughout the book they are ridiculously oblivious and naive.

The book seemed even weaker after I noticed that the author has a graduate degree in psychology -- I had been guessing that it was written by someone who got all her ideas about profiling and investigation from watching "Criminal Minds"!

Still, I've read plenty worse recent YA, and the characters, while I didn't care much about them, did not fill me with rage. An ok bit of fluff if you need to pass some time.
Profile Image for Fafa's Book Corner.
512 reviews298 followers
July 18, 2016
Mini review:


When I had first heard about this book I was hesitant. At the time I wasn't interested in reading this. I ended up reading the author's other book The Fixer. While I didn't enjoy it I wanted to read this book. Unfortunately this book was a mess.

It felt really sloppy and that too many things were happening at once. Cassie's thoughts were also a bit weird to read about.

I would still recommend this. Despite being a mess it does have an interesting premise. And I've heard that it gets better as the series continues.
Profile Image for Sláinte Wanderlust.
892 reviews388 followers
April 10, 2015
I loved the book, the reasons it is not a 5 star are as followed;
* It was too YA to really hook me all the way.
* The ending was slightly predictable, I didn't guess it exactly, but almost.
* The "natural thing" kinda bugged me as I thought, honestly if some people could do this, then they all would of been rounded up years ago and working for the fbi/cia/etc already, it wouldn't of been a new thing.
* A love triangle.. jeez... how many times can this be done.. seriously.

Apart from those issues mentioned it, I really did love it! I was intrigued from basically the get go and I struggled to take a break. I am glad I read it and plan on reading the next in the series. If you think you might like a slight para YA take on CSI this book is worth a read :)
Profile Image for Rachel.
313 reviews76 followers
May 5, 2020
This book was so much fun and extremely thrilling towards the end!
The setup is a pretty unrealistic but the characters are so intriguing that I was able to suspend my disbelief. You just have to enjoy the ride!
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