Altered (Altered, #1) by Jennifer Rush

Title: Altered, (Altered, #1)
Author: Jennifer Rush
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January, 1, 2013
Pages: 336, Hardcover
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads:
When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?

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.

Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. 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.

To me, Altered was Jason Bourne meets Captain America times four. Sam, Nick, Trev and Cas have been genetically altered by a government funded organization called The Branch to enhance various traits – speed, strength, intellect, etc. – in an attempt to create perfect soldiers. Their memories have been wiped so they cannot recall their lives before the lab and they are tested daily in preparation for some vague future purpose. But early into the book they escape the lab and go on the run, following clues that Sam’s pre-memory-swipe self left behind, which they hope will uncover some truth.
Altered follows the POV of Anna who is the daughter of Arthur, the man in charge of overseeing the boy’s testing and progress. Anna has been home-schooled and knows nothing other than the farm she lives on and the lab imprisoning four boys in her basement (which apparently she just accepts). As her only real companions, she grows close to them. Trev is good-natured, protective, and open. He is the closest thing to a best friend that Anna has. Cas is good-humored, playful and laid-back. He’s usually the one to lighten the mood when things get tense. And Sam is the one that captured Anna’s heart. He’s reserved, calculating and mysterious but Anna is drawn to him by some force beyond her control. Nick and Anna don't get along. When the boys escape with the aid of Anna’s father, his only request is that they take her and protect her. They oblige and Anna ends up on the run with them, but soon discovers that she’s just as mixed up in the Branch as the boys are, and she’s forced to question everything she thought she knew.

Altered is an action-driven novel. Make no mistake, there is a romance element with some angst but it shouldn’t deter you. The plot carries the group from one puzzle piece to the next, with Branch agents hot on their trail creating ample opportunity for fight scenes, discovery, world-building, etc. There is a steady flow of information, plot twists, and attention-grabbing moments, to keep you turning the pages wanting to know more.

The ending is also worth mentioning. Although in the slightest sense it felt compacted (glazing over details) I was happy with the dose of information we were ultimately given. In a lot of YA series, the first book is disappointedly void of (what I consider) big discoveries but Altered did not follow that trend. I was very satisfied with what we were given in this novel and what questions were left unanswered for the next.

One more thing – this book follows the trend of strong female characters. Anna is no weak damsel in distress. She may not be on par with the boys but she can carry her own weight and does.

Overall, Altered was a fun, action-packed read that delivers. A definite stand out in this genre and an exciting read.

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant review, Nicole! You and I felt similarly about this. The romance did also feel a little angsty to me, but, like yourself, I enjoyed the action-packed plot regardless. Really looking forward to book 2! :)


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