Author: Jennifer Rush (Twitter)
Publisher: Little, Brown BYR
Publish Date: January 1, 2013
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev . . . and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab—not even their true identities.Now on the run, Anna soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.
Anna's life has never been truly normal. With a father that's deeply embedded in the inner workings of a secret government project, homeschooling, daily duties in their underground lab and a long-since passed mother, she's never really looked for normalcy in everyday life. But there's something about the boys on whom her father experiments that intrigues Anna. They don't remember life before Branch. There are files stashed in her house with cryptic messages and, for some reason, Branch will do anything to get the four boys back. But Anna's on the run, and she's in so far that she's a part of the program, too, whether she likes it or not.
I've professed my love for science fiction on this blog many times now. I've also stated that I absolutely love stories about characters with unique powers and abilities. These storylines speak to me. Altered by Jennifer Rush promises readers all that and so much more. From page one, we're thrust into a high-speed, action-packed chase in which we can only hope that we, as well as the characters, survive this story in one piece. Altered sends readers on a whirlwind plot of adventure, clever mystery and intrigue, never letting up until we ultimately get the answers we seek.
For all intents and purposes, Altered was a good book. The first thought that entered my mind about two chapters into the book was that the writing was incredibly cinematic, if you understand my meaning. The author has created a book that reads very much like you would expect an action movie to play out. It jumps, it twists and we're thrust from event to event, trying to connect the clues as we go. In some ways, this really works because it forces us to absorb every intricate detail we come across. In other ways, however, I felt as though it left the true development of the story and the characters' individual arcs on the backburner, which is a bit of a tricky element for me. In terms of characterization, the author does a great job of creating individual personalities for these four boys, Nick, Cas, Trev and Sam. Each one is extremely distinct, and I found it easy to associate the boys with a character trait, which set them apart as I read the story. On the flip side though, I felt as though a lot of Altered spent time telling me about these characters and their emotions, rather than showing me who they were and what they were going through. Anna was also a bit of a tricky one for me. I found her to be largely self-deprecating at the beginning of the story, despite the fact that she's pretty, she's smart, she is self-sufficient and she can defend herself. I find it to be extremely aggravating when we see a potentially powerful heroine stripped down to a meager facade that is, well, pretty lackluster. In my humble opinion, her character could have been so much more. All that aside though, I'd be remiss if I didn't state the storyline for Altered is really well done. Every element was thought out and carefully pieced together so that the action and adventure never stops. There are plenty of unexpected turns that surprised and pleased me, and that is a really strong trait for a book to have.
Overall, I think Altered was a successful debut, albeit mildly flawed for a demanding reader like myself. I find myself becoming pickier and pickier, and this book has received a lot of good reviews, so it could very well be me. I give it a 3 out of 5, and I'd recommend it fans of YA fiction that enjoy science fiction and adventure.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.