Book Review: All In And Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Book: All In by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Published November 2015 by Disney-Hyperion|378 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Naturals #3

Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller

Three casinos. Three bodies. Three days.

After a string of brutal murders in Las Vegas, Cassie Hobbes and the Naturals are called in to investigate. But even with the team’s unique profiling talents, these murders seem baffling: unlike many serial killers, this one uses different methods every time. All of the victims were killed in public, yet the killer does not show up on any tape. And each victim has a string of numbers tattooed on their wrist. Hidden in the numbers is a code—and the closer the Naturals come to unraveling the mystery, the more perilous the case becomes.

Meanwhile, Cassie is dealing with an equally dangerous and much more painful mystery. For the first time in years, there’s been a break in her mother’s case. As personal issues and tensions between the team mount, Cassie and the Naturals will be faced with impossible odds—and impossible choices.

This has been a pretty cool series so far.  In this book, we see Cassie and the rest of the Naturals head over to Vegas to help out with a case.  This case was really different, and I loved seeing them figure it out.

This group…they really grew together.  They’re teens, and yet, they’ve all experienced something that no one their age should go through.  We learn so much about the characters, and they make so much more sense now then they did at the beginning of the series.  We learn a lot about everyone, and not just a lot about one particular character, which I liked.  In particular, though, I loved learning about Sloane.  They’re a team, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses.  But they are a team, and they’re better together than they are on their own.

Barnes doesn’t shy away from anything, and I really appreciated that, especially with everything the characters experience in this book.  It makes me want to pick up the next book- which I’ve had from the library for weeks, because I didn’t want to read it until I reviewed this one, and I’ve just never gotten to until now, because I should probably read it so I can actually return it.  I’m not in the mood to return it without reading it.

There’s definitely a lot going on, and the further in we get, the more questions I have.  This case…there’s a definite system, but it makes me wonder if there are connections that are going to be revealed in the last one that I never saw in the previous books.  Some very new things are revealed, and it makes me wonder if there’s more to what’s been going on.  Does anyone else want to know more about Cassie’s mom?  Because I feel like that’s been a question that’s been hanging over our heads since the beginning.

If that question isn’t answered, I am not going to be happy.  I don’t see how it’s not going to be answered, considering that it seems to be a really important plot point.  I know this series is primarily about Cassie, and her mom’s death was a really big event in her life, but things aren’t what they seem, as we’ve learned in previous books.  That is the case with this book as well, and hopefully, we finally learn what really happened.  Because just when you think you know, you realize you don’t know.

I’ve really liked this series so far, but I think this one is my favorite.  Now that the team is actually working on actual cases, and not just cold cases, things are really moving forward.  It’s changed things, and it will be interesting to see where things go from here.

My Rating: 4 stars.  I didn’t quite love it, but I still really liked it, and this series is definitely one to read!

Book: Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Published November 2016 by Disney-Hyperion|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Naturals #4

Genre: YA Mystery/Thriller

New victims. New betrayals. New secrets.

When Cassie Hobbes joined the FBI’s Naturals program, she had one goal: uncover the truth about her mother’s murder. But now, everything Cassie thought she knew about what happened that night has been called into question. Her mother is alive, and the people holding her captive are more powerful—and dangerous—than anything the Naturals have faced so far. As Cassie and the team work to uncover the secrets of a group that has been killing in secret for generations, they find themselves racing a ticking clock.

The bodies begin piling up, the deaths hit closer and closer to home, and it soon becomes apparent that this time, the Naturals aren’t just hunting serial killers.

They’re being hunted themselves.

As glad as I am that I finally know how it all ends, I think this is my least favorite book in this series.  I still liked it, and we definitely learn a lot about Cassie, but a lot of the book seemed convoluted and confusing.

There are just so many people and connections between them and I really felt like I needed pen and paper to figure all of it out.  It was more about the Fibonacci murders than resolving the mystery behind the death of Cassie’s mom.  It does come around in the end, I suppose, but I wasn’t really happy with how it was all resolved.  I feel like we learned a lot about Michael, Sloane, and Dean in the previous books, and I thought we’d learn more about Lia, but we never got that.  I found that disappointing, and I wanted more resolution with Cassie as well.  I don’t know that we saw a lot of growth or change for her, and I feel like there should have been more of that, particularly in this book.

I did like the relationships between everyone, and I liked how they were there for each other, particularly towards the end of the book.  That’s been one of my favorite things about this series, particularly over the last couple of books.

Overall, though, I thought it could have been better.  Some things about this series have been implausible, but I was willing to go with it, because the idea of the Naturals is pretty intriguing.  But this book…I didn’t realize there was a limit until this book.  I had a hard time actually believing some of the revelations, and the terrible parents thing went a bit too far in this book.  It seemed a bit much, and I kind of wish that Barnes had toned it down just a little bit.

It was still entertaining to read, and I did finish (and like) the book, so it wasn’t as bad as could have been.  It just wasn’t as good as it could have been either.

My Rating: 3 stars.  I liked it, particularly the relationship between all of the Naturals.  But parts of it were confusing, and it went in a different direction than I thought it would be.

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