Sunday, November 16, 2014

Review: KILLER INSTINCT by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Title: Killer Instinct
Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Publication date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Source: an ARC provided by the publisher for an honest review.
All quotes may be changed from ARC to publication.

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?

With her trademark wit, brilliant plotting, and twists that no one will see coming, Jennifer Lynn Barnes will keep readers on the edge of their seats (and looking over their shoulders) as they race through the pages of this thrilling novel.

Spoilers from the FIRST book MAY be ahead. Proceed at your own risk if you haven't read the Naturals.

First line: The majority of children who are kidnapped and killed are dead within three hours of the abduction.

Not to sound like an utter psycho, but I felt immediately assured that this sequel would meet my expectations after I read the first page line. 

What made such a strong impression on me when I started Killer Instinct was that it felt like my favorite crime shows. The characters may have dealt with a huge shock in the last book (I almost needed CPR last go-around) and they were still sifting through their emotions, but we were already introduced to a new crime. Just like, say, Blacklist there's a major plot line running through, but we see them dealing with new issues as well. The first case we see in Killer Instinct is not the main one throughout the story, but does a great job of leading us back into the characters' lives. 

The real case, however, deals with college students and a suspected professor. First of all, it seems like college crimes are a must have at least once in a crime series (which I love, don't get me wrong, but being a young female in college makes me conflicted). Fortunately, this book doesn't get carried away with cliches. Instead, it makes this normal college crime scenario anything but normal. 

It also dives deeper into the mysterious Dean's life, specifically his serial killer father. If you thought you had daddy issues, you have NOTHING on Dean. Zero. I won't get into detail about Dean's past because if you read this book (which you should), you'll find out and that's part of the fun. Because of this path that the book takes, we find more about Dean's and even Lia's past. Also, this causes Cassie to think about and help Dean more. Of course, that also makes us more aware of her love triangle at hand, but I really think that Barnes does such a great job with the love triangle that I'm not bothered by it. The love triangle is not a big issue in the plot (hello, they have other stuff to worry about), but there's still enough scenes for it to not become stagnant either. 

While I love (and I mean love) the character development, even the new characters, and plot in this sequel, the twists made me enjoy the sequel even more. Just like the first book, Barnes included some of the best twists I ever read. Not only did I become sucked into the story so much that I forgot I wasn't actually in it, but when the twists came along, I was blown away. I might have rivaled the characters' surprise. 

All of the characters are still dealing with what happened before in the first book, but new conflicts arise, making the plot fresh. More sequels need to learn this. A major theme can carry through the story, but it shouldn't become stalled. There should be progress and analysis even, but something to keep me interested. So once again, I applaud Barnes and Disney-Hyperion. 

Verdict: One of the best (if not THE best) sequels I've ever read. 


  1. Wow! I just a couple days ago reviewed The Naturals. Now I'm beyond excited about this one!! :)

  2. Not going to lie... I'm nervous about the love triangle in this book. That was my major disappointment with the first book (though I liked most everything else about it!).

  3. Ever since I read The Naturals on your recommendation, I've NEEDED to read Killer Instinct, and I'm so glad to see you liked it! If you're a psycho for being drawn in by that first line, I am too because it made my excitement even stronger. Now that this sequel is out, I need to go find a copy ASAP.

  4. I'm disappointed the author is continuing the love triangle situation, but the first book was fun, and the sequel sounds enjoyable. Great review! :)