book review

Killer Instinct (The Naturals #2) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

20409231Seventeen-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?


I’ve always like reading Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ books. She may not be one of my favorites but I still enjoyed some of her books. The Naturals series is a contemporary, young adult books with a mix of mystery and thriller. Killer Instinct though is the second book of the series. Let me just give you the blurb of the first book The Naturals from Goodreads:

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

So, Cassie Hobbes is part of an elite under-the-radar teenage group called The Naturals. Each one of them has unique abilities that they use to help the FBI solve cold cases. They are recruited and gathered together in a safe house to train them to hone their abilities. As for Cassie, she is good at profiling people. She analyzes people and she can tell how one person is likely to behave within moments of meeting them. There are other four Naturals with her. Dean, a brooding profiler same as Cassie, who has a dark tragic past. Michael the born-rich cocky emotion reader. Lia, the angsty human lie detector and is very good at lying, too. And Sloane, the statistician who sputters random information at any given time. Put them all together and they could be a really great asset. And yes, it really makes for a really interesting plot. The idea of having teenage kids with unique abilities and can help solve cases rocks. And this is what attracts me on this book in the first place. I can’t resist a good mystery story.

The story picks up not too long after the end of the first book. After their dangerous bout with a serial killer, they are now prohibited with working on any active case. They promised not to, of course, but it is easier said than done. A new serial killer is on the loose. What’s more, the method is a perfect copy of Dean’s father. It can only be a copycat since his dad is still rotting in jail. So, who is the killer, then? And why is he or she copying someone else’s method in the first place? And so, the Naturals were once again sucked in in an active case as Dean might be able to help the FBI catch the killer.  

I so like the mystery in this story and it is the strength of this series. You can tell the author put a great deal of research on this. As to guessing who the killer is, it is quite a challenge, for me anyway. I am so way off with my guess. And the twists are so good, they were completely unpredictable.
Although, I don’t dig the love triangle, at all. Maybe because I like the other character than the other and the one I’m rooting for might not be Cassie’s type. And also because she can’t seem to make up her mind on who she really likes. It’s good that the romance is not the only focus of this series. Else, I would give up. I know it was thrown to create tension amongst the group but I think it would be better without it. Or maybe, just let Cassie choose one already.

I don’t really like Cassie as a protagonist. But I don’t hate her either. For me, she’s just okay. That’s why I don’t understand why two guys are vying for her attention. But hey, that’s just me. I don’t mind reading about her perspective on things, though.  

I am more intrigued by the other Naturals, say Lia and Michael. And also Sterling, she’s really interesting. So, it’s good that in this book, we learn a bit more about the other Naturals and some more. And now, I want to know more about all of them. So, I guess I will have to grab the third book. I can’t wait to know what they’re up to next time. And can there be please more about Sloane?

Killer Instinct is a good mystery/crime story. For a YA mystery, this one is a solid choice. Miss Barnes really knows how to keep her readers hooked.




(*Photos and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Purchase it on Killer Instinct (The Naturals 2)

Purchase it on Killer Instinct (The Naturals 2)

Purchase it on Killer Instinct (The Naturals 2)

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