“Finished the last book,” I texted to my husband, inserting several weeping emojis.
“Was it a bad end?” He texted back.
“It was dark and twisted and disturbing on so many levels, but bad isn’t a word I’d use,” I replied.
Yes, dark, twisted, and disturbing is exactly how I described Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Enticing, compelling, and true is also how I would describe this last book in The Naturals series. Barnes’ extensive education of the human mind enabled her to write a gripping young adult novel that will likely forever stay with me, even if a part of me wishes to forget the entire second half of the series. I laughed, cried, grimaced, and shouted throughout each story, from the first to the last book in The Naturals. I wish it never had to end. I wish my time spent reading the novels lasted longer than a week. Most of all, I hope Jennifer Lynn Barnes will someday receive the honor due to her for her excellence in young adult fiction.
Bad Blood – The Summary
Cassie forfeits part of her joy in her relationship with Dean when she visits his father at the high security prison where he is held. She is looking for clues into the Fibonacci case, especially for hints as to where her mother might be held. She comes home emptyhanded. Cassie hides her visit with Daniel Redding from Dean, afraid of how he will react, but she cannot hide the visitation forever. The break in the Fibonacci case arrives from Cassie’s younger sister and a tune she hums. With some help from Sloane, the team discovers that the tune represents the numbers of a social security number belonging to the serial killer Nightshade.
Before Cassie, her friends, and their agents are allowed to pursue the Fibonacci cult, FBI Director Sterling gives them a case revolving around a potential victim closely related to Michael. Relations between the teen prodigies suffer because of their abilities to read each other, but before too much time passes, the teens are introduced to Celine—a young woman with an uncanny ability to find identities based on people’s facial structures.
Back on the Fibonacci case, the team finds themselves in Gaither, Oklahoma. Cassie soon discovers that almost a year of her childhood had been spent in that small town, a place where some residents recognize her and remember her mother. The more leads from Cassie’s past that the team follows, the closer they come to danger. Less than 24 hours pass in Gaither before Lia enrolls in the local cult to gather information for the case. Dean and Michael are brawling over who’s responsible for Lia’s rash action, because everyone is worried. Lia sneaks back to the team unscathed but holding some vital information.
By the time Agents Sterling and Briggs are certain of the relation between Gaither and the Fibonacci cult, the teens are ordered to return to their residency in Washington D.C. However, before Cassie goes back, she decides to break some disturbing news to a local resident about her daughter. The resident, who belongs to the Fibonacci cult, proceeds to drug each teen and agent, causing each one to pass out. When Cassie reawakens, she learns about every person in the cult, some of their roles in the outside world, and what she must do to survive.
Bad Blood – The Analysis
I’m tempted to call the final book as ludicrous as the third book in The Naturals series, but I question myself. I question whether I simply cannot endure the realities of the evil in the world which Barnes so aptly depicted. The men in my family will turn on true crime stories on television, causing me to leave the room. Maybe Barnes has a higher tolerance for learning about the evil done in the world than I do. If this is the case, and I’m almost certain it is, then The Naturals series was extraordinarily well written.
Barnes introduces some character development in Cassie which I hadn’t noticed before. Cassie begins to question her own motives in investigating crime scenes, questioning whether her heart remained pure and caring for other’s wellbeing. Barnes depicts the moment Cassie questioned herself very well:
It was several seconds before I found my voice. “Michael—”
“Don’t,” he told me. “Because I swear to God, Colorado, if you say a single word right now, I’m not going to be able to keep from telling you exactly what combination of emotions I saw flash across your face when you started to think that Celine might not have been taken by one of your precious Masters.”
My mouth went dry. If Celine had been taken by the Masters on a Fibonacci date, she was already dead. But if this case was unrelated, she might still be alive. And I…
I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t hopeful. Part of me—a sick, twisted part of me that I barely even recognized—wanted her to be a victim of the cabal. Because if she was their victim, there was a chance they’d left evidence behind. We desperately needed a lead. I needed something to go on.
Bad Blood, p. 67-68
Even though I knew Celine mattered to Michael. Even though he mattered to me.
The above section struck me so hard that I was obligated to set the book down for the night. I acknowledge that Michael is my favorite character, even if he had the propensity to be mean and cutting. But in this one instance, I could somewhat relate to Cassie. Sometimes my wishes and desires are not what they should be. As a Christian, I must confess and repent of these thoughts in prayer to God. But even my upbringing in the church couldn’t have prepared me for the truth which Barnes had so plainly written out.
As for the remainder of the story, I very much enjoyed the action and the dialogue. The introduction of a new character was a smart move on Barnes’ part. The ending was pure devastation and still has me reeling as to the philosophy behind it all. I cannot say more without giving away the plotline. I will leave my reader with more of a heartwarming quote than what I left above:
I heard the sobs before I realized I was sobbing. I dug my fingers into the back of his neck, his T-shirt, his shoulders, holding on for dear life.
Bad Blood, p. 366
“I love you.” Dean lifted the words from my mind. “Today, tomorrow, covered in blood, haunted and waking up in the middle of the night screaming—I love you, Cassie, and I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere.”
The conclusion of the entire series left me desiring more. Yes, I understood that the prodigy teens remained a tightknit group and from there on out would be paid FBI agents. I knew that Cassie’s little sister would be raised in a safe environment and that Cassie had found resolution to her mother’s case. But what about Michael? Would he find his happily ever after? Would Sloane someday find peace with her brother’s death? I have so many questions that remain unanswered, and likely will never be answered. Therefore, I give Bad Blood a 7.5/10 rating. It was well written, disturbing, and thought-provoking. Someday, I will probably read The Naturals series again, and I shall hopefully be better able to stomach the truthful atrocities in the novels.