Spoiled shares a look at the books you can't wait to read, long before they hit stores. Today Young Adult author Jennifer Lynn Barnes gives RT readers a peek inside her just-announced series The Naturals. Discover what inspired these books, get an early look at a few of the characters you'll meet and find out how this new series compares to The Squad, Barnes' tales about a cheerleading team that also worked as spies!
The Naturals is about an FBI think-tank that uses gifted teenagers to profile and catch serial killers. Each of the teens in the program has an incredible natural aptitude of some kind. The main character is a Natural profiler: when she interacts with people, she automatically takes in little details that help her understand their personalities in a big way. She intuitively understands people and is really good at reading behavior and predicting how someone will behave in the future. This is just the way her brain works, but over the course of the book, the FBI trains her to use those skills to get into the minds of serial killers.
The other teens in the program have different gifts: one is a Natural statistician, who is incredibly good with numbers; another is extremely adept at reading other people's facial expressions and emotions. The one thing they all have in common is that they view the world very differently from most people, and now all of a sudden, they're in this high-octane environment with other people who are different, too, and they're working together to catch killers.
I'm a huge fan of TV shows like Criminal Minds, Bones, and The Mentalist, and I love reading thrillers and romantic suspense. Last year, when I did my end of the year analysis of the books I'd read that year, about 40% of the adult books I'd read fell into those categories, but very few of the YA books I'd read did, so one of the big reasons I decided to write The Naturals was that it was the kind of book that I desperately wanted to read. Thrillers have a lot in common with the paranormal books I usually write: teenagers in extraordinary circumstances using their abilities to fight the good fight and come out of life-or-death situations alive. The only difference is that in this case, the abilities aren't supernatural at all. They're completely within the realm of possibility. In my non-writing life, I just finished a PhD in psychology, so writing a book about psychological profiling was a perfect fit.
There are several similarities and differences between The Naturals and The Squad. The Naturals is very much a thriller: the main character has a pretty dark past, and she spends the course of the book learning how to think like a serial killer in order to catch them, which is a harrowing and emotionally wrought experience. The stakes are higher than they were for Toby in The Squad. Another major difference is that The Naturals is much more based in real-world science: as the characters learn how to profile, the readers will, too. The similarities between the two projects come in the way that the spy/profiler story-lines are interwoven with real teen drama: crushes and betrayals, friendships, romance, and realizing that people aren't always what they seem.
-Jennifer Lynn Barnes
We'll keep you up to date on all the news about The Naturals. And for even more Jennifer Lynn Barnes-action, be sure to check out her Tumblr! You can also find other fantastic Young Adult books and genre news visit our Everything Young Adult Page.