Killer Instinct (The Naturals #2)
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publication: November 7th, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Format: Kindle Edition, 321 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Espionage
Read: October 2016
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.
Plot – 5 out of 5 stars
I am absolutely obsessed with these books. The plot is fast paced and entertaining. It’s intense, powerful and sometimes really freaking creepy! It deals with violence, death and grief. This one is a lot more personal than the first. We get to learn more about one of the other members of the program and it really tore my heart up! And this book in particular also has more romance, which made me happy.
Writing Style – 4 out of 5 stars
The writing style works incredibly well for the story it’s telling. It’s super easy to read and really fast paced. The sentences are short and to the point which makes them easy to devour, because that’s basically what I do when I read this book. It’s really intense, powerful and creepy because it’s really descriptive. I’m gonna be honest, sometimes it gives me goosebumps. BUT THAT MAKES IT SO GOOD!
Characters – 4 out of 5 stars
This cast of characters are slowly but surely becoming my babies. They’re still really weird but like, I’m getting to know them so much more now that I want to snuggle them and love them! Cassie had a rough time of it in the first book so she’s haunted in this book, plagued by nightmares and memories. She’s gotten a bit obsessed with her ability and is also a bit confused on some things going on. But she’s really smart and quiet and hopeful. She’s slowly sliding right at home with this group of crazy kinds and it’s super awesome. This book also takes a closer look at Dean. This book takes him through ups and downs and lots of emotions. He’s scared, angry and haunted by his childhood. I just wanted to wrap him in my arms and protect him honestly. I feel like I definitely connected more with the side characters in this book, Dean first and foremost. Because the plot hits so close to home, the author makes it a point to build their friendships a lot more and to develop the side characters more which I really appreciated. It starts to feel like they are all part of the same team now and it’s pretty great.
I swear, these books get more and more intense as they continue on. I definitely did not expect any of the things that happened in this one.
The plot is powerful. We follow Cassie, who is still trying to recover from the events of the first book when the Naturals team gets confronted with a case that hits close to home. While I think the first book was mostly about Cassie, integrating herself into the program and encountering her first case, this one dives into Dean and his past, his father as well as sharing tidbits of the others’ pasts as well. It was really interesting to be able to get to know the side characters more in this book because that was one of the issues I found in the first book. Everyone has a harsh past which explains their abilities and their actions and I appreciated being able to see bits and pieces of why the characters are the way they are. This book is just as intense and fast paced as the previous one but it felt a lot more personal. It’s such a creepy setting all in all, because you’re dealing with serial killers by the way. So it’s definitely not for the faint of heart and keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. This one felt a lot more powerful in general because you’re dealing with such a sensitive topic in one of the characters’ life and it affected every single member of the cast very deeply yet in different ways. It was such a hard thing, to see someone by teared down by their past, by their family, by what they think that means for them that it really made me fall in love with the characters and now they are my babies. I never know what’s going to happen in these books. Never. There are so many different clues and things happening and there’s always a fresh perspective that not only freaks you the hell out, but makes sure that you’re never confident in what you think is happening and in your theories. The ending blew me away. It left me shell shocked and breathless and pretty much stunned. Most people might not like that but yeah, I’m obsessed.
Cassie is really attentive in this book. I feel like I got to know her a lot more in this book, even though she’s still very quiet and introspective. She’s still reeling from the events of the first book which shook her (and me) to her core. Yet even with all this inner turmoil, she takes the time to take care of the rest of the team which I think says a lot about who she is as a person. She’s conscious of how everyone is struggling in different ways, because even though they are little weirdos, they are family to each other and they take care of each other. I liked seeing that she felt like more a part of the group even though she hasn’t been with them long. They’re creating a new dynamic with her included and she really flourished as a team player. I want to see her grow in her trust with the people around her a lot more. She still keeps a lot of her thoughts and feelings inside but she can definitely confide in her team members much more than she does.
Again, I’m gonna talk briefly about the side characters. I really loved how the author explored more about them as individuals, but also more about their relationships with each other. Dean and Lila were the first two recruited for the program and they have a sibling like relationship which was definitely shown in this book more. You can see how protective she is of him and how she’s expected him to act around her. Their relationship goes through a bit of an up and down situation in this book yet they came out stronger and closer as siblings at the end. On his part alone, I was astounded by how much his struggles broke my heart in two. I wasn’t really invested in any of the characters in the first book, I just loved this story, but this book definitely made sure that I never felt that way again. I wanted to cry and hug him and take care of him because he has such an internal battle going on inside him and it’s intense to read about. He’s my new cinnamon roll. There’s a new adult character in this book and I really, really liked her. She definitely shakes up the teen to adult dynamic which also is something I really like in this book. There are adults that mentor these kids, they are not just gallivanting on their own in search of serial killers. They actually have people who are trained to do what the kids are learning to do and who try to keep them safe and sound while on these cases. And last little sentence, though I feel bad for Michael, I cannot say that I am not happy about the way things ended up. Cryptic, I know. Wanna know what it means? Read the book!
Overall, I loved this sequel and this series just gets better and better as it goes on. The plot is intense, fast paced, creepy and emotional. It left me on the edge of my seat and pretty much has my heart pounding every time I sit down to read it. I enjoyed getting to connect and get to know all the characters a lot more closely and I love how they are becoming a team and a family. I can’t wait to see what the next books brings!
So that’s it for this post! I hope you all have added this series to your TBR by now. If you haven’t, I still have like two more reviews coming up about it to try to get you on the bandwagon. If you’re worried about content, please leave a comment so I can hopefully calm those fears! Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!