Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Naturals, #2
The Naturals, the FBI program that no one is supposed to know about, is comprised of teens with special skill sets that allow them to find clues that normal people might overlook. Cassie Hobbes, a member of the Naturals, has survived a face-to-face encounter with a killer obsessed with her mother’s murder and as much as she wants to be over it, she’s not. When FBI Agent Veronica Sterling arrives with the express purpose of keeping the Naturals from any more active cases, Cassie and the others have little say, but everything changes when a body is discovered bearing striking similarities to the murders committed by serial killer Daniel Redding, also known as Dean’s father. And despite warnings from Agent Sterling and Dean himself, Cassie is determined to help close this case for his sake, even if it means putting herself in danger.
“They saw the lines you carved into her body. They saw the noose you slipped around her neck…Your lips curve into a smile. The moment has passed, but the game–the game is long. Next time, you won’t be so eager. Next time, you’ll have nothing to prove. Next time, you’ll take it slow.”
I want to start off by saying The Naturals was a surprise favorite for me earlier in the year. Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ Killer Instinct was just as good, and actually provided me with a lot more insight into certain characters that I felt needed more development. I’m not a big fan of love triangles and I’m especially not a fan when they continue into the second book, so this is the only thing I disliked about this book. Cassie doesn’t want her life to be defined by who she chooses and in fact is determined not to choose between Dean and Michael at all. The program and the people around Cassie make her feel like she belongs and she would rather have this than romance.
It is my slightly biased opinion that Cassie’s romantic interest in one boy or another would probably come about more naturally if Michael wasn’t so anxious for her to choose. This was one of my problems with him and although I understand his past has a negative affect on how he deals with Dean, I wanted him to be able to get past it because it really kept me from giving him the kind of sympathy I think he deserves. As for Dean, I’m just a sap when it comes to this character. Barnes is very subtle when it comes to presenting this unsure and quite boy, and this translates really well in his relationship with Cassie. Their connection is all about the little things and how opening up to one another is difficult for both parties, and I never felt like either character was being pushy with the other.
Lia absolutely shines in Killer Instinct. In the first book, I got very little from her besides manipulation and hostility, but Barnes does a fantastic job of exploring this character further through her relationship with Dean. I now understand her behavior toward Cassie on a completely different level and am actually quite impressed with the way she has handled herself. Sloane, the fourth member of the Naturals, got a few scenes to shine too and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of her. Veronica Sterling was another character we got to know in this book who I immediate pegged for an older version of Cassie. And the brief insights we got into Daniel Redding’s mind were both frightening and fascinating.