Author: Jennifer Rush
Release: January 1st 2013
Genre: Science Fiction, Paranormal, YA
#1 in the Altered trilogy
Sequels: Erased (#2), Reborn (#3)
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.
Whatever it is that is allowing me this streak of books I truly enjoy, I am praying it will last. Seriously, the past 10 or so books I have read have all been at least 3 stars or higher. It's heaven, and every reader's dream. I am literally living the dream right now.
Altered kicked off pretty interestingly, with a mysterious conversation between a seemingly normal boy and girl under cover of darkness, in a lab with a wall that separates them. Apparently, there's three other boys, all of them extremely hot and ripped of course, and stowed away behind plexiglas as well. Needless to say, I was instantly intrigued, which was still a rare thing for me these past few weeks in which I have read books I enjoyed, so this is saying something. Fifty pages in, I was smiling inwardly, thinking 'Tis gon' be good. I was right (of course).
But what exactly is it about this that made it so addicting? Honestly, I don't really have a clue. It could be that it simply reminded me of The Raven Boys with its character cast of four boys, one girl, or it could be the fact that I simply enjoy roadtrip-esque books. Seriously, I don't know why but I'm always really entertained by driving around a place in a car, renting rooms in a motel, buying provisions at gas stations, etc. It certainly couldn't have been the whole barely there science fiction aspect, which I guess you could file under "paranormal," because in my opinion, superhuman strength and abilities are more paranormal than supernatural, but well, it wasn't really delved into much. We never really get any specifics, we just know that they've been experimented on and now they hardly age and, like I said, have super six-pack abs, possibly even eight-packs, who knows. The book never even specifies on that.
I guess I did like the characters though, and that's probably what factored in the most in me enjoying the novel. I wasn't exactly sure what to think of Anna at first, not knowing whether she was a naive, brainless victim or if she did have some fire in her. Turns out, she's a little of both. Sometimes I was a little irritated by her constant pining for Sam because it made her sound very immature, naive and childish, but then she went and kicked some butt or decoded some cryptic message where I was like HELLS YEAH. I guess ultimately, I did sort of end up liking her. Trev was also a nicely developed character, he's really likable and easy-going, which makes me, as the reader, instantly sympathetic towards him since he's just, you know, cute. There's some kind of shadow cloud hanging over him that you don't even realize because he's so friendly, and that's important later on. Cas was probably my favorite character, his easy banter with Anna was some needed comedic relief and he was simply a cutie pie. If it weren't for him, I don't think I would have enjoyed the novel quite as much as I have. For reasons beyond me, I was also kind of intrigued by Nick, maybe because I was biased since a friend of mine has gushed about him to me before I began reading, but the whole time, I was waiting for him to finally get ... you know ... a little characterization. It got better towards the end and stuff, but I still need to know a bit more about the guy. Nevertheless, I already am kind of attracted to him, truth be told. Finally, there's Sam, and well. I don't know. I mean, yes, Nick was brooding, stoic guy #183192389, but Sam was also the mysterious leader that always holds back information and is so infuriatingly, heroically selfless that it makes you roll your eyes #1983921381293, too. And to be honest, I was more drawn towards brooding, stoic guy #183192389.
Which brings me to the next point. Romance, obviously. I have no clue why, but I thought that there was going to be a love triangle between Anna, Sam and Nick, but it didn't happen. I'd thought I picked the info up somewhere along the way, since I'd heard a lot of things about the book before, but, yeah ... nope. No love triangle, at least not yet — I'm still waiting for it to surface in book two. And ... I'm actually kind of hoping it will. Since I totally expected there to be sparks between Anna and Nick, I kind of started shipping them early on, even though that does sound kind of hypocritical. Here I am, ranting about the abusive relationships in Eona yesterday, and now I'm shipping the guy who always insulted and glared daggers at Anna with her. Yup. Judge me. But I think there's undeniably some sexual tension that has to come out of so much animosity and I've always thought those relationships borne out of anger and dislike at first are the hottest. Besides, I thought the whole Sam/Anna thing was a little ... weird. He openly admits to not "being her friend" in the beginning and just having used her to gain her trust so she could help break him out later. But then he suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, does have real feelings for Anna, even though he previously dated her older sister. What? Uhh, right. Not to mention that their relationship was lame, it honestly needs a little spice or something. They felt like a couple that's been married for two decades and has since long fallen out of love and just stuck together because they couldn't be bothered to divorce. There was no heat, no nothing. So ... yeah, I am sort of hoping there's going to be some Nick/Anna action in the sequel, if I'm being honest.
Anyway, I'm getting to the sequel as soon as I can, which means after finishing up business here on the Internet. For those who aren't fans of cliffhangers and open endings, you can also rejoice, because this book wraps up quite nicely, with not a lot of loose threads hanging around. I myself am actually kind of looking forward to what's gonna happen in Erased, since I don't know what else there is to tell. I'm sure there's something, yeah, but let's see if it's just going to be as repetitive as I fear or if Rush is able to be creative.