For this post, I’m going to be using The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes as an example. This book is captivating and intriguing, pulling me in until the very end. Barnes has a twisted angle to tell her story and it all connects in the end. I read it in one sitting, and all I can say is that it’s definitely something that I would read again. And again.
The Naturals is about a girl named Cassie who grew up with a mother who was a psychic. She learned from an early age to read people and pay attention to the little things and what they might mean about the people they relate to. It’s all about reading the crowd. Her mother is murdered, and she goes to live with family. That is, until the FBI comes and offers to let her into the Naturals program. It’s a secret program that is training kids with useful abilities like her to solve cold cases.
And this includes the son of a serial killer who is a profiler like Cassie and a pathological liar who can tell when someone is lying. A genius with numbers and a boy who can read emotions. They start off with cold cases, but that changes not long after Cassie comes along. Needless to say, this program leads to a lot more than any of them asked for.
There is one thing that stands out to me more than anything with this book. Even just the first chapter. Barnes takes murderers to a whole new level when she starts out writing chapters from the perspective of the killer… while they are killing. But throughout the entire book, you don’t know who it is. The entire story is about trying to figure out who this is, and the reader has it worst. You aren’t just reading from the murderer’s perspective, but you become the murderer.
There are several books out there that take advantage of second person perspective, but this one takes the cake. There are short chapters throughout the book that start with the title, “You”. These chapters are written like, “You’ve chosen and chosen well. Maybe this one will be the one who stops you. Maybe she’ll be different. Maybe she’ll be enough.”
It’s creepy. So creepy.
But it’s also genius.
You’d think that you’d be able to guess the murderer because you are forced to think like them. But Barnes does it just right.
The book also does a great job with characterization. In the story, each character has their own personality and background that makes them unique. And it keeps you questioning, leading on to the rest of the trilogy. I find that a lot of authors tend to let their characters bleed together… I know I’ve had to go back and make changes because of this before.
My Challenge for you is to take something away from this book to help your own story. Is the perspective you used effective for telling your story? Are your characters bleeding together into one personality? Is there something unique that could help you to tell your story to your readers better?
Even if it is something that might make you rewrite the whole story, it might just be worth it. I’ve been close to scrapping an entire book to rewrite it before, and am still considering that for the first book I wrote (unpublished). But don’t make any sudden decisions, though. Actually step back and think about it for a bit, because you might change your mind later.
Here are the Goodreads links if you want to look into the book or author:
Like this post if you liked it, and you can follow my website via email, WordPress, or any of the social media widgets on the side. If you are reading this on Goodreads, then you can follow me or add me as a friend!
Thank you for reading, and don’t stop writing!