Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What we're reading: More serial killers!

I posted not too long ago about a new mini-trend in YA fiction: serial killers. This book is written from the more traditional viewpoint, from the other side (the hunters of the serial killers), but with a few twists that give it some flair.

Cassie has a particular skill--from trailing around the country during her childhood with her "psychic" mother, she has learned to pick up people's "tells"--the tiny details that reveal who you are and what you want. Now she's on her own, existing uneasily with her grandmother and exuberant extended family but not really fitting in. Then the FBI approaches her--they are beginning a classified program that uses teens like her to try to solve notorious cold cases. Cassie definitely wants in.

She's sent to live with a group of teens whose skills are as unusual as hers--an emotion-reader, a profiler, a lie-detector, and an odds-calculator. Soon, their theoretical study of cold cases gives away to an active case that threatens them all and makes their gifts vital to their survival.

This was a nice moment of serendipity: On my way out the door of the library a week ago on Friday night, I realized I needed something to read for the weekend, and grabbed a book off the new books shelves in YA--this first in the Naturals series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I wasn't sure I'd like it--I read her book Nobody, and although I thought the idea was really clever, the execution was disappointing. But this one held my attention throughout. I liked the idea, the protagonist, the other characters. There is a little conflicted romance, but it's not insta-love, and the mystery/suspense part of the plot had an unexpected resolution. It ended up being a great read!

Anyway, the week before, my friend Carey had walked into my office and dumped a pile of about 20 young adult ARCs (advance reader copies) she brought back for me from her trip to the American Library Association convention in Las Vegas (I love Carey). I hadn't really looked through them yet (yes, I know, crazy, but we're in the midst of the teen summer reading program!), until Anarda (the other teen librarian) came over to my branch to meet with me, and started poking through the pile. I was telling her Oh, I just read a YA book I think we should consider for book club (and we should!), when she pulled one out of the pile and said Well, then, if you liked it so much, you'll want to read THIS--and THIS was the sequel, Killer Instinct! Nice.

So I brought it home this weekend and just finished it, and it, too, did not disappoint. It takes up a few months after the end of the last book, with all the cast of characters mostly intact but adding one more to the mix, and it has a similarly intriguing and baffling mystery that I have to admit I did partially figure out before the big reveal, but still--good one! I look forward to the next. That's the down side to getting an ARC--this one I just read doesn't come out to the public until November, and then begins the long wait for the third...

And by the way, this book has been described by some reviewers as if these kids' skills are paranormal, but they're really not--they have, instead, developed them because of childhood traumas that have made them super-sensitive and perceptive beyond the level of most people, that's all. When I say "that's all," that's not trivial, but--not paranormal! So if you are not fond of the paranormal aspect, don't shy away from these books. They are really FBI-style police procedurals but from the teen point of view. A bunch of people on Goodreads called them Criminal Minds fan fiction for the under-18 crowd. I have never watched that show, but it sounds right.

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