Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Title: Killer Instinct
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Series: The Naturals, book #2
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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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?

With her trademark wit, brilliant plotting, and twists that no one will see coming, Jennifer Lynn Barnes will keep readers on the edge of their seats (and looking over their shoulders) as they race through the pages of this thrilling novel.

Do any of you watch The Following? That Kevin Bacon show on Fox that follows his character as he tries to determine a serial killer's next move in an attempt to save the next victim? This book reminded me a lot of that show -- especially the utilization of a criminal mastermind already serving time for over a dozen murders -- and that isn't a bad thing. I really thought I wasn't going to like that series because of all of the gratuitous violence, but as it turns out, I rather like trying to get inside the head of a serial killer. And that's exactly what the Naturals are up to in this sequel.

The gang's all back together and they're still trying to cope with the fact that none of them realized that there was a serial killer in their midst this past summer. To take their minds off of that, there's a new serial killer in town and he's mimicking the murders of one Daniel Redding...who just happens to be Dean's serial killer father who's been locked away in prison for the last five years. As you can probably guess, because of that, this book focuses on Dean a lot, though it's still narrated by Cassie, who spends a lot of her time analyzing Dean while also trying not to push him further away.

And while she pretty much fails at that 90% of the time, she's still got Michael not pressuring her -- but totally pressuring her -- to come to a decision, i.e. pick him or Dean, once and for all. Of course, he obviously thinks she's going to pick him with that kind of confidence and determination, but Cassie is all over the place. This love triangle of doom, while not the focus of these books, drove me a little nuts because one minute Cassie doesn't want to feel anything for either boy, the next she's nearly kissing Michael, and the next she's having a heart-to-heart with Dean, trying to gauge his feelings, if any, for her. It seems pretty well resolved by the end of this novel, but I don't necessarily like the path it took to get there.

Like I said, that's not the focal point of this novel, though. The copycat serial killer is and more is at stake now than ever before. Because of who the killer is copying. Because there's a new agent on the case to replace Locke. Because of said agent's relationship to both Briggs and the serial killer. Because no matter how much the FBI wants to keep the Naturals off the active cases, they need these kids' help because of their special abilities.

Things were slow in the beginning of this novel, with the post-Locke adjustments and the Agent Sterling adjustments, but the plot is absorbing in a way that even the first book wasn't. And yet again, Barnes was able to create some really great twists that I did not see coming. I was excited to see that after The Naturals, there would be a follow-up to Cassie's story. I am even more giddy with the ending to Killer Instinct because it seems like there's quite a bit more story to tell and I'm very eager to get to it.

GIF it to me straight:
Oooh, creepy...but definitely something to keep in mind.

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.

Find Jen:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr


  1. I have been this book a lot lately between the blogs, happy to hear you like it :D

  2. So excited to read this one. I have been waiting to see if it comes out on audio since I listened to the first one So glad you liked this one. I loved the first one. I am exited that we have more Dean in this book. Great review.

  3. I would just as easily have given this book four stars too had it not been for that pesky love triangle. Le sigh.

    Great review, Jen.

  4. I enjoyed this one too. It was a tad slow for me in the beginning too. I wondered if because I didn't do a reread of the first that attributed to the slower pacing for me. I couldn't remember all the characters all that clearly.


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