The cover of Altered by Jennifer Rush drew me in immediately. I love bare-limbed trees and hot boys. What a perfect combination!
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.
I heard great things about this book so I went in with high hopes. This book was good but it didn’t surpass my expectations. The best thing about this story is the four hot boys. Each distinct with their own personality, the boys make the novel what it is. The main character, Anna, was a confusing female protagonist. Everyone said that she was beautiful, but all Anna’s self-musings were about her greasy hair and unwashed state–not attractive. I think it’s either the epitome of self-deprecation in a character or beauty is defined very differently in Jennifer Rush’s literary world. This detail irked me, but it’s also a small, insignificant issue in the book.
My biggest issue with this book was Anna’s motive. She wanted the boys to escape. She ‘loved’ them, but they were trapped for FIVE YEARS and she didn’t do anything? I don’t believe that. It would have been more believable if she was told they had a life-threatening disease and if they came out of their glass cages they would die or endanger others, THAT I could believe. However, I enjoyed the unraveling, mysterious plot as the boys and Anna were on the run. I thought the ending was great and very believable, but matched with the beginning, it took away the ‘magic’ of this novel for me.
I was also disappointed with the romance, or serious lack there of. There wasn’t any chemistry between Anna and Sam until literally the last page. Sam seemed more like a brother and Nick (the boy who ‘hates’ her) seemed to have more chemistry with Anna. (Or maybe I’m reading too many formulaic Young Adult novels where the boy is mean to the girl he loves and it’s rubbing off.) I would have enjoyed a love “square” or some tension between the boys fighting over Anna. I think it would have added to the depth of their relationships and thicken the plot.
Nevertheless, I was thoroughly entertained and I devoured the book in one day. Altered isn’t anything mind-blowing, but it’s a well-written debut novel that has potential to grow into a promising series. The character growth wasn’t there for me just yet but I can foresee good things in the future.
STARS: 3.5 out of 5