The Naturals


Title: The Naturals

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

ISBN: 978-1-4231-6831-7

Publisher: Hyperion

Copyright Date: 2013

Plot Summary:

Seventeen year old Cassie has the unique ability to read people. After the brutal murder of her mother, she shuffles through life with the distinct feeling that she does not belong. All of that changes when she is approached by a mysterious boy with a calling card. Cassie soon finds herself being trained as part of an elite program of gifted teens called The Naturals by their FBI employers. The Naturals use their unique abilities to solve cold cases by analyzing critical details that may have been originally overlooked. Cassie feels that this opportunity gives her life purpose and she hopes to someday find her own mother’s killer. Cassie finds a potential opportunity to do so when finds herself at the center of an active case. The killer, it seems, has taken a particular interest in her and she takes it upon herself to find out why.

Critical Evaluation:

Barnes is a great voice in teen crime literature. This is an amazing book for teens with an interest in shows like Criminal Intent and CSI. The majority of the book follows the main character Cassie, but periodically there are short chapters that delve into the mind of the killer. The killer’s chapters give the readers a glimpse into a warped mind and act as a foreshadowing tool for what is about to happen.

The book itself seems well-researched. The author’s biography reveals that she has a degree in cognitive science. This is apparent with her extensive knowledge of body language and behavioral patterns. Although by no means do I feel that I could accurately profile someone after reading this book, it has made me more observant of the people around me and made me more aware of their non-verbal cues. This is a great book for people with an inquisitive mind and an interest in twisted endings.

Reader’s Annotation: Someone is bent on revenge. And that someone has their eyes set on Cassie.

About the Author:

“Jennifer Lynn Barnes (who mostly goes by Jen) was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She has been, in turn, a competitive cheerleader, a volleyball player, a dancer, a debutante, a primate cognition researcher, a teen model, a comic book geek, and a lemur aficionado. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember, finished her first full book (which she now refers to as a “practice book” and which none of you will ever see) when she was still in high school, and then wrote Golden the summer after her freshman year in college, when she was nineteen.

Jen graduated high school in 2002, and from Yale University with a degree in cognitive science (the study of the brain and thought) in May of 2006. She was awarded a Fulbright to do post-graduate work at Cambridge, and then returned to the states, where she is hard at work on her PhD.”

Genre: Young adult, crime, thriller, suspense, mystery, drama

Curriculum Ties: Science

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Have listeners silently profile somebody they do not know just by looking at them, then discuss criminal profiling.
  • Read an excerpt from the murderer’s perspective.

Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 7-9, Ages 12-17

Challenge Issues: Graphic violence, murder

Defense File:

Violence in the Media: A Joint Statement: 2000-2001 CD #19.3

Justification of Selection: A suspenseful book with a surprising twist. This book will have mystery lovers at the edge of their seats.


Barnes, J. L. (n.d). Bio. Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Retrieved from

The Naturals

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