Cassie Hobbes is not like most teenagers. Most teenagers don’t lose their mother in a bloody, unsolved kidnapping. Most teenagers can’t tell who you are, where you’re from and how you’re likely to behave within moments of meeting you. And most teenagers don’t get chosen to join The Naturals.
Identified by the FBI as uniquely gifted, Cassie is recruited to an elite school where a small number of teens are trained to hone their exceptional abilites.
For Cassie, trying to make friends with the girls, and to figure out the two very different, very hot boys, is challenging enough. But when a serial killer begins recreating the details of her mother’s horrific crime scene, she realises just how dangerous life in The Naturals could be...
Cassie has a pretty special ability to read people's behaviour and posture and everything about them. Think Sherlock Holmes-type of intuition. It was impressive and a bit weird but what was really scary was when she was recruited by a new branch of the FBI, to be part of a secret group of gifted teens to help the FBI solve crimes. Superpower teens solving crimes? Heck yes!
I was instantly intrigued; apparently I'm on a 'weird thriller' run! The whole blend of drama, mystery and romance was compelling and very well done, especially from Cassie's point of view where nothing really made sense in this madhouse. Speaking of the madhouse, god these kids are annoying! Another profiler like Cassie, a boy who can read emotions, a pathological liar/lie detector and a klepto with a gift for numbers. None of them have much in the way of social skills and most of them also have the annoying habit of spouting out whatever nonsense first comes to mind; mind you, most of the time, that was hilarious!
Weirdly, and probably scarily, I found the lessons on victimology fascinating. Yes, the crimes and the scenarios were morbid but, like Cassie, I like to understand the killer's or in fact anyone's motivation. Not only were the teens training to help the FBI with cold cases, but there was a killer closing in on them, specifically focusing on Cassie. And as the killer gets closer, Cassie is terrified but also determined to get who she believes is responsible for her mother's death. It was completely thrilling and enthralling, in a 'heart in my throat' sort of way, especially the last part when the truth comes out. I never saw the killer coming, I nearly dropped the book when I found out!
All in all, a fantastic book that shows what good thrillers need: a story to make turning the page a compulsion, characters to root for and hate at the same time, and a killer to shock you. The Naturals had all that and more, I'm so glad I started the year off with this corker of a book!
Published 7th November 2013 by Quercus.