Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Killer Instinct (The Naturals, Book 2)
Hyperion (US: 4th November 2014); Quercus (UK: 6th November 2014; AU: 31st March 2015)
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The Naturals, Book 1, was awkward. The concept for the series was solid, though improbable, but the execution of it was hard to get into at first. It was like an origin story of how everyone meets, even though there was a mystery to solve.
Killer Instinct does what every good sequel should: match the quality of the first, or improve upon it. This Book 2 is definitely an improvement, because the core concept and group of characters have been established, so there’s more book-time for a case to be explored in-depth. Which it does brilliantly here, though you have to wade through the cringe-worthy Chapter 2 before the story can really start. (I get the feeling that the author loves character banter, but I’m really only here for the crime investigation.)
(Also, there’s a supposed love triangle, but it’s never quite believable because we know Cassie will end up with Dean. Michael is just a friend. Stop trying to make fetch happen.)
As for the mystery to solve, there seems to be someone copying Dean’s father’s killings, but the case is a lot more complex than that, and is written well. The author’s studies in psychology are shown off fabulously here, though the nature of the series means that every little thing is explained so the reader never has to think for oneself.
With strong character studies and a complex plot, Jennifer Lynn Barnes has crafted an immersive YA novel in which even the adults have their own fascinating storylines. Now that the series has been well and truly established, I can’t wait to see what the Naturals will get up to next. Bring on All In!