I get a lot of books from publishers in exchange for review, but that doesn’t stop me from browsing. When I saw that a book from the same author as The Fixer , and noticed it was only 99 cents today, I went into high alert. The blurb sounded like a go, and the price was unbelievably right, so I bought it before I even sampled it. I’m so glad I did. Think Criminal Minds, and add in a little teen angst, and you’ve got yourself a YA read that, while a bit unbelievable, is compelling and entertaining.
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.
I thought this was a very engaging book with enough suspense and suspects to keep me guessing. Right up until the big reveal, I kept changing my mind. That speaks well for this suspense/mystery/thriller because that doesn’t happen very often in a head so full of plots and predictions. I liked the characters, who represented a variety of personality types with their white, black, and gray sides. I liked the concept. No, I didn’t really believe the concept could happen, but I was able to suspend disbelief and just enjoy the ride. The plot moved quickly and there were no noticeable lulls, but there were some sketchy relationships. That might be due to the fact that these kids are all suppose to be masters of deception and detection and thus made themselves really hard to read, or it might be the fact that I smelled a more than awkward love rectangle early in the game. I honestly wasn’t bothered by the Anita Blake/Stephanie Plum they are going to pass each other around relationship set-up, but I would have enjoyed a more clear-cut romance. Don’t want to write it myself, though, so I’ll take what I can get. I particularly appreciated the fact that Cassie wasn’t forced to join the team and we didn’t have to listen to her sullen resentment – it is a breath of fresh air in the YA genre. She did pull some tern pouting when she didn’t get her way, but nothing on the scale I expected. Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I think my high school readers will as well, particularly those who enjoy watching Criminal Minds or just interesting if implausible teens hunting murders read. Language and situations are appropriate for high school, but as an adult reader of YA, I got a kick out of it as well.
This book is available in the MHS library.