Review: Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Series: The Naturals #2

killer instinct -jennifer lynn barnesSeventeen-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.

4 Drink Me Potions

Killer Instinct is what a follow-up sequel should look like. After reading The Naturals, it already amazed me at the high level of proficiency needed in creating all the twists and turns of a plot like that. This book does that justice, even taking the twists to a whole new playing field. Jennifer Lynn Barnes is one amazing author.

The story focuses on a group of 5 teenagers with special abilities, called the Naturals. Now, who doesn’t like the sound of that? An emotion reader, lie detector, two profilers and a statistical genius? And this is all happens naturally to them. They are recruited by the FBI to help solve cold cases, but it always leads to participating in an active case. This time, there’s a copycat serial killer on the loose and it gets so much juicier from there!

Reading the story and trying to logically deduce who the killer was, I realized there is a lot of thinking required to throw red-herrings at the readers, and also have them make sense in the context of the plot. It was a very fascinating read with an ending that is not all that predictable.

I appreciated the friendships between the 5 main characters, as well as their individual personalities. Barnes writes in such a way that you can imagine what each person would say, a figure that’s coming to life right on the pages in front of you. They’re not just bland characters you see in every book. I will admit that Michael is the typical “funny” guy who makes the girl smile and can take things lightly, while Dean is the dark, quiet “brooding” guy in the background that intrigues the girl. There is the stereotypical characterization but through context and their character building, it becomes more than just a stereotype, for which I give kudos to Barnes.

There isn’t a lot of romance in this story, so romance lovers beware. However, I feel that romance and love triangles can get in the way of a good mystery story a lot, so I actually appreciated tamping down on hints of romance for most of the book. It allowed the focus to stay on the mystery instead of the drama between the 3 characters.

Overall Recommendation:
Killer Instinct stepped up to its predecessor’s reputation and more. A new intriguing mystery for our favourite Naturals, with suspense and unpredictable twists along the road. A definite read for those who want to know more than “who-dun-it”, and get inside a killer’s head to understand why they do it. Jennifer Lynn Barnes does NOT disappoint with her sequel, leaving you reading until the wee hours of morning just to know the answer. Criminal Minds? Pshh, this is definitely en par.

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