Review of Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Killer Instinct (The Naturals, #2)Killer Instinct
By: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Release Date: November 4th 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Format: Print ARC
Source: Publisher

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

Seventeen-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?

My Thoughts:
I was a big fan of the first in this series, The Naturals. As with the first, Barnes has written another compelling mystery that kept me intrigued once I got back into the world and characters. Barnes’ knowledge of cognitive thought and psychology was evident in her characters motivations and behavior.

I chose not to reread the first book and this caused me a tad bit of struggle in the beginning because I had trouble recalling the characters and their dynamics with one another. It didn’t take long though and I was back into the story. The last book focused on Cassie and the mystery surrounding her mother’s death and the journey to find the person responsible for the killings that were similar to how her mother was murdered. Killer Instinct focused this time on a copycat of Dean’s father.

Dean was an easy favorite for me in both books because I can’t help but be fascinated with his character. The idea that his father was a convicted serial killer was as sad as it was intriguing. In this novel we get much more depth about Dean and his father’s interactions. I thought this was the most fascinating aspect of this book and am so happy that Barnes explored this element.

Though the story focused a good deal on Dean’s past it was told again from Cassie’s view point. Like the first book, Killer Instinct had a significant focus on a love triangle with Cassie struggling between her two interests. This element did detract from the story for me but I’m glad to see that it looks to be coming to a close sooner than later. Though the triangle wasn’t my favorite aspect I could see Cassie’s draw to both Dean and Michael.

Each of the secondary characters were true to their character from the first book. Michael was the welcomed humor in a story focused so much on death. It’s hard not to love him solely for his witty dialog. The reader was given more insight into each of these characters and I felt that as the series continues we’ll continue to get to know them even more.

As with the first book we get small chapters told from the killer’s point of view. I love that these are included since we get to witness the psychological make-up of the killer. It helps to give hints into who it is and kept me invested and intrigued in the mystery.

Final Thoughts:
Killer Instinct was a fast paced mystery that was unpredictable and intriguing. I love Barnes’ use of profiling basics and her ability to keep me guessing who the killer might be. Though there was a love triangle I felt that the story was done well enough to cancel out that aspect and keep me loving this series.

Showcase Sunday #28/Stacking the Shelves

This post is Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea and Stacking the Shelves hosted by Tynga’s Reviews where you show what books you’ve purchased, gotten from the library, received from giveaway, as gifts or for review. I didn’t post last week so I’m adding the one book I received to this one.

Horde (Razorland, #3)Horde (Razorland #3) by Anne Aguirre
Purchased at Blue Willow Bookshop at the Fierce Reads tour event.

Gift– Thank you Carina!
Allegiant (Divergent, #3)Allegiant by Veronica Roth

For Review (via Publisher)
The NaturalsThe Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
You can read my review here

For Review (via Edelweiss)
SalvageSalvage by Alexandra Duncan

Won (via Simon Teen- Thank you!)
Endless Knight (The Arcana Chronicles, #2)Endless Knight by Kresley Cole

Review of The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The NaturalsThe Naturals
By: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: November 5, 2013
Barnes and Noble

A copy was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

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.

The Story:
The Naturals was a wonderful break from the science fiction and dystopians I’ve been reading lately. I loved the idea behind The Naturals, a group of talented/gifted teens are brought into a special division of the FBI to help profile serial killers. This idea is pretty far fetched…I don’t see the FBI utilizing teens in the near future (hey but what do I know?) but I loved suspending disbelief and imagining the possibility.

I went through a phase back in junior high (after watching Silence of the Lambs-entirely too young) where I wanted to know everything possible about serial killers. Less about the gore and crime scenes and more about the why behind it. What type of home life did they have? Was there anything someone could have done to prevent them from becoming a monster? I was fascinated and terrified to read as much as I could. It was a pretty macabre interest that spanned into high school and I even considered studying criminology in college. I knew though that I didn’t have the guts or mental capacity to immerse myself into their brain spaces for a career so that idea died out.

Needless to say, I’ve read many profiling books and accounts of serial killers. I found Barnes approach to profiling and the grooming her main character was given to mesh beautifully with the things I had learned. I loved spending time in Cassie’s brain space as she walked through the whys and hows.

We follow the story through dual point of views, one from the main character, Cassie and the other through the eyes of the killer. This alternating pov helped to lead the reader in the direction of figuring out who the killer was along with Cassie. I’ve seen some readers finding it incredibly easy to pick who the killer is early on but I honestly did not.

I found the book to be fast paced and thoroughly entertaining (minus a couple of small issues that I’ll get to in the character section). Since this was the first in the series and Cassie was just being introduced to life as a profiler she was tasked with looking over cold cases which eliminated (for the most part) any details into active cases and crime scenes. Because of this the book is on the light side regarding gore.

As the series progresses I hope we get to see a much deeper look into the phycology behind the killer’s thoughts. Of course, this is targeted to a young adult audience so Barnes writes appropriately.

The Characters:
Warning to all of those readers that can’t stand a love triangle…there is one in this book. It was done fairly well and didn’t annoy me to be honest. Sadly, Barnes does fall into a few clichés with her cast of characters but they still felt genuine to me and I was able to connect with them.

As I’m trying to figure out what to write about the characters I realize I really don’t have a whole lot to say about them. The two boys Cassie can’t decide between are both likeable and Barnes does a good job giving the reader reasons why she would be attracted to both of them. Cassie was easy for me to understand and see the motivations behind her actions. I enjoyed watching her grow into her potential and following the story through her view point.

I think that the areas the characters were lacking, (such as-more history behind each of them and a fuller understanding of their gifts and how they came to be part of The Naturals) will all be addressed in future books. I felt that this first in the series set the stage nicely. though I do wish less time had been spent on a romantic plot and more on each of the characters back story and motivations.

Final Thoughts:
Overall, I found The Naturals to be a really entertaining and fast paced book. I could have done without the love triangle but it wasn’t so bad as to detract from the main story arc. I am excited to see where Barnes takes this series and I hope she dives deeper into the science behind profiling and psychology in her future books.

Showcase Sunday #20

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicky at Books, Biscuits and Tea where you show what books you’ve purchased, gotten from the library, received from giveaway, as gifts or for review.

For Review (via Publisher):

Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion #1) by Aimee Carter

For Review (via NetGalley):

Inhuman (Fetch #1) by Kat Falls and The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Naturals

What did you get last week?