Book Review: Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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?

This book was an unexpected pick up at Book Expo America this year, and I did major fangirl flailing when I got my hands on a copy of it, because The Naturals was one of my favorite reads from early 2014 (click on the title to see my review!).

It was absolutely wonderful to get back into the lives of the kids in the special FBI program, and it was a little bit harrowing as well (I wouldn’t have it any other way).  Cassie is still reeling from the betrayal of their previous FBI handler, when a new character is introduced and is going to be taking over the training and responsibility of these talented teens.  Now, when this happens, it irritated not only the characters, but also me as a reader.  Why? Well, she basically limits any of the cool story aspects for the characters to do in the first few chapters before the narrative really picks up.  While I do appreciate that she is determined that the kids need to finish high school, is there really any way that these characters WOULDN’T immediately get a job at the FBI once they are 18?  I mean they already have clearance, work experience, natural talent…. but anyway.

Once the story really gets going the novel is hard to put down.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it was better than the first installment, but it is definitely close.  There is a large amount of suspense and misdirection that happens when the teens get too caught up in the case, and there is definitely some scary moments where some lives are held in the balance. I can’t imagine how painful this novel would have been had the narrator been Dean instead of Cassie, but again, he isn’t a character who would really provide a lot of clarity in narration, as he tends to be a little hard to crack.

The love triangle, of course, makes an appearance–but I honestly don’t know who I would want Cassie to choose between Dean and Mike.  They both have a lot of flaws and emotional baggage, not to mention Cassie’s own issues with what happened to her in the first novel and how she was raised.  I think this is one of the reasons I love these characters and their story so much, because they are flawed and realistic.  Also: that twist! (I can’t say anymore!)

4 Bards!

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Top 14 of 2014: Day 1

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Instead of taking a week off after the Christmas holiday like I have every year since A Midsummer Night’s Read opened, I am joining forces with Krista from Krista’s Dust Jacket and Kim from Kimberly Faye Reads to host a Top 14 of 2014 meme!

 Not only are you able to participate in this meme, but we will each be hosting giveaways on our blogs including extra entries if you participate and add to our links! Feel free to use the graphic above in your posts.

Today’s topic is:

Top 14 New-to-You Authors

1. Cheryl Strayed: Author of Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, and the non-fiction book, Wild, which has been adapted to a movie starring Reese Witherspoon.

2. Meg Wolitzer: Author of Belzhar, her first Young Adult novel. Wolitzer has written a lot of Fiction but I fell in love with her first foray into the YA genre, and hope she keeps bringing her talent to teens!

3. Morgan Matson/Katie Finn: My praise is definitely a double edged sword here, because I absolutely adored Matson’s novel Since You’ve Been Gone, but I really wasn’t happy with her pseudonym’s novel, Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend.

4. Rachel Hawkins: Evidently I’ve missed out on some good novels by not reading Hawkins’ work until this year, but I read Rebel Belle and fell in love.

5. Jennifer Lynn Barnes: Another author that I had never read before this year, but I fell in love with The Naturals (which I read in 2014) and managed to get my hands on the sequel. I don’t know if I’ll check out her supernatural series, but I really do love her Criminal Minds-eque series and hope it keeps going!

6. Jennifer Armentrout: I should just label the middle of this list as the authors I regret ignoring until 2014.  I still have only read one of her novels, Don’t Look Back, but I went ahead and bought a few more of her novels to read for 2015!

7. Amy Ewing: Ewing’s debut, The Jewel, was definitely one of the best novels I read this year. It was also her debut novel, so she really should be on everyone’s New-to-Me author list!

8. Ava Dellaira: Another debut author for 2014, whose novel Love Letters to the Dead, really exemplified how the grieving process can effect a teen.

9. Lindsay Cummings: So proud of this former book reviewer and now successful author! I’m not much for middle grade books, so I haven’t read The Balance Keepers, but I adored The Murder Complex!

10. E. Lockhart: I’m starting to get concerned for myself for not hearing about some of the authors on this list prior to 2014, but man, We Were Liars is now one of my favorite books of all time.

What are some of your favorite New-to-You Authors for 2014?  Be sure to join our meme!

 Tomorrow’s topic: Top 14 Moments or Quotes from Books

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Top Ten Tuesday

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted for us book blogger types by the Broke and the Bookish. They provide a topic, and all of us participants post our answers on our blogs and we hop around checking out one another’s answers! This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Books on my Fall TBR List

1. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

2. Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

3. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

4. Talon by Julie Kagawa

5. Killer Instinct by S.E. Green

6. Inland by Kat Rosenfield

7. Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

8. Blackbird by Anna Carey

9. Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman

10. Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Vlog 2: BEA Wrap Up!

Sure, it’s a month later, but we still wanted to share our stories!

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