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I Belong

Early Review: Altered by Jennifer Rush

Title: Altered

Author: Jennifer Rush

Genre: YA Paranormal

Series: Altered (Book 1)

Publication Date: January 1, 2013

Format: Hardcover, 366 Pages

ISBN-10: 0316197084 (Hachette)

ISBN-13: 978-0316197083 (Hachette)

Reviewed by: Kayla


They were made to forget. But they’ll never forgive.

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, solemn and brooding; Cas, light-hearted and playful; Trev, smart and caring; and Sam . . . who’s stolen Anna’s heart.

When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape. Anna’s father pushes her to go with them, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs.

On the run, with her father’s warning in her head, Anna begins to doubt everything she thought she knew about herself. She 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.

Quick & Dirty: Runaways try to remember their past while figuring out their future.

Opening Sentence: For most of the last five years, I wasn’t allowed in the lab.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Anna’s always known about the boys. Even before she was allowed into the basement, she figured out the code and made a midnight visit — playing chess with Sam, joking around with Cass, chatting with Trev or (cough) ignoring Nick. Now she works for her father. She draws blood, works on charts or just pretends to be busy while she watches Sam. But the Branch has plans other than keeping them locked up underground. When Conner comes to the house to take the boys, Sam makes his move. In minutes, Sam has the guards killed and Conner on the run. But what to do about Anna? Her father pleads to take her with them, and the boys reluctantly agree. Now on the run, Anna has to help the boys regain their memory before the Branch and Conner find them. But the boy’s memory aren’t the only ones that will be questioned. Funny, unpredictable and action packed, Altered has all the potential for a fast-paced series.

I admit, this book let me down. After all the good reviews I’ve read about this book, it didn’t seem to meet the standards. Yes it has cute boys and several fight scenes. But the boys are in their twenties and the heroine (Anna) is only sixteen. Add in the weird twist in the middle and it makes for an awkward romance. The beginning and middle was fast-paced, but the beginning of the end (that’s about 3/4 of the way through) was as slow as a turtle (not quite a snail). When it was just Anna and Sam together at the end, the plot slowed, and there was a lack of anything interesting happening. But that was just a few chapters that can be looked over. The main problem I had with the book was the heroine.

Anna is unpredictable. First she’s all I-don’t-know-what-to-do during a fight scene, then she’s all wham! kick-butt extraordinaire. Yes, the book does explain her strength, but her actual fighting skills? Where do they come from? The guys at least had a past where it’s possible they could have learned fighting before they had their memories wiped. Anna is so naive. She doesn’t understand why all the guys won’t tell her their background or what’s happening at the moment. Seriously? You hardly know these guys. Just because you visit at night doesn’t mean that they’ll spill their guts to you. Plus they’re GUYS. I don’t think guys show their emotions when you ask them to.

BUT. Who cares about an inconsistent heroine when there are FOUR hot guys in the picture? (Okay, I do, but still. This sorta shadows the problems)

Sam is the leader. He’s the most focused and serious one out of all of them. He’s very mysterious and hardly ever shows his emotions. His main priority is to get his memory back, but unfortunately they’re coming back slowly and painfully. Now that they’ve escaped from the lab, all four of the boys start having flashbacks, but Sam has the most frequent flashbacks. I didn’t exactly fall for this guy right away. And the twist in the middle (the same one I mentioned in the beginning) threw me off. But by the end of the book, I came to respect him, but not necessarily fall for him. No, that honor goes to the snarky, ADD Cass. This guy reminds me so much of Puck from Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, that I absolutely HAD to love him. His humorous personality and snarky comments are especially Puck-esque (see notable scene). Plus, who doesn’t love a witty guy that can fight like a boss?

Trev is one smart cookie. And I would slap him right now if I could. Nick I would slap at any point through the book, but he has an excuse. He came from an abusive family. His flashbacks probably tie with Sam in being the most painful. But still. His flashbacks didn’t start until they escaped, so why was he a jerk in the basement too?

Overall this wasn’t a bad book, per se. There were parts that I’m not a fan of, but there are others that I love. Some of the parts I don’t like, maybe you will, so don’t mark this off your to be read list yet. It definitely has potential for the next book. So read it or don’t. It’s not a world-changer if you don’t, but it’s worth the time if you do.

Notable Scene:

“Well…” Cas propped himself in a fork of branches and looked down. “Are you pumping me for gossip? Because that’s what it feels like.”

I warmed. “What? No!”

“Come on, Anna, you’re in love with him aren’t you?”

I could barely make out his facial features in the darkness, but I didn’t have to in order to hear the sly smirk in his voice.

If Cas know I liked Sam, did Sam know? Of course he did. I wasn’t exactly secretive about the whole thing. But hearing it out loud changed everything. I suddenly felt nauseous.

I put my face in my hands. “Oh my God.”

The tree branches rustled. Cas dropped to the ground next to me and patted my head. “It’s all right. Go ahead and admit you’re in love with me, too. Let’s get everything off our chests while we’re at it.”

I swatted at him but he dodged away. “You’re not making me feel better.”

“Who said I was trying to make you feel better? Fact: Sam’s got swagger. Fact: I’m straight. Fact: Even though I’m straight, I sorta love the dude. So I can’t say I blame you.”


1. Altered (January 1, 2013)

FTC Advisory: Little Brown Books For Young Readers/Hachette Book Group provided me with a copy of Altered. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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