Wednesday, June 15, 2016

YA Book Pick: ALL IN by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Once a month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review. We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors!

This month's book pick is ALL IN (THE NATURALS, #3), by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Synopsis (from Goodreads): 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.

First Line: "New Year's Eve fell on a Sunday." While this isn't a terribly hook-y line by itself, it becomes much more interesting when you add the next few sentences:

"This would have been less problematic if my grandmother hadn't considered 'Thou shalt gather your family for Sunday dinner an inviolable commandment, or if Uncle Rio had not appointed himself the pourer of the wine.

"There was a lot of wine."

Highlights: This book is the third in an excellent series of YA thrillers. There's a cast of very interesting characters (who you find out more about with each new installment), genuinely baffling mysteries with satisfying endings, and plenty of exciting action/danger scenes.

Another highlight is the romance that's woven throughout the three books. Unlike many YA series, it's very subtle and takes a backseat to individual character development and the main plotlines of each book.

Notes for writers: The author does a very good job of doling out fascinating background information over the three books. Because of this, she accomplishes the feat of making each book even better and more interesting than the last one.

A good read for: I'd highly recommend these books to anyone writing thrillers or mysteries. In addition, they're a good example of a well-planned series that keeps readers hooked.

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