31 December 2015
Series: The Naturals #1
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Cassie is not like other kids. She doesn't wonder aimlessly through high school, taking life day by day and taking her family and friends for granted. Cassie is tortured by her mother's murder, and her disappearance after the fact. It's been five years, and Cassie still does not have any closure, and the police don't have any leads.
She spends her days waiting tables, and it's at work that she meets the mysterious Michael with an even more mysterious invitation. In a blink of an eye, Cassie realizes that her innate ability to read people and profile then put her in an elite class that the FBI is very interested in.
I am a sucker for young adult series where the main characters are essentially teen sleuths. I like it when the authors write seriously where you can just suspend your belief to think that just maybe it might happen, but don't go as far as to take themselves too seriously, since we are talking about teens solving murders with the government here. I think Barnes does a good job of balancing these two.
Cassie's character is interesting enough, although it seems that all of her development stems either from her mother's death and unsolved murder or her "natural" ability. Perhaps my favorite part of her development is right at the beginning, with her family and particularly her grandmother. I am a bit disappointed with her character growth over the remainder of the novel. And the love triangle? I really, really, really wish authors would stop feeling the need for it in just about every young adult novel/series. While both Michael and Dean are interesting enough characters, I'm far more interested in the crime/mystery aspect of the series than the juvenile angst between the characters.
As for the mystery element, it keeps my attention all the way through. The ending I certainly did not see coming, although it seems a little too coincidental for my taste and felt just a tad out of left field.
All in all, the novel lacks character depth for all characters involved, but I think it's a decent introduction to a new series. And while the romance in this novel is a little strong and definitely feels forced, I'm still interested in seeing where Barnes takes the series with the next installment, especially since I already have it waiting on my shelf checked out from the library.