Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on January 1st, 2013
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.
First and foremost let me just say that Altered was a 3.5 star book for me (one day I will get half a star rating system). Now we can move forward.
I found a lot of things I adored about Altered but a few things, personally, just didn’t sit well with me. I, like many people, have grown up completely desensitized to guns and violence in general. I understand that Altered is a young adult book, so I tried to push my personal experiences to the side. Key word was tried. But before I jump to that, lets start at the beginning. 🙂
Altered was one of my most anticipated releases of January 2013. I counted down the days, I admired the cover on a creepy level, I stalked the Goodreads statuses for reviews (which were all stellar) and I read the blurb obsessively. When I finally got the book in my hands the happy dance I did was so epic, I can only describe it as a mix between the running-man and that one thriller move. No, not that one, this one:
I was all over my house doing my epic new dance, singing the “look what I got” song. Yes it took some time for me to get to read it but hey, it was in my possession and if someone tried to take it, blood would have been drawn. But I’m getting off track. (Damn my squirrel like attention span!)
Altered started off fairly slow, showing Anna’s day to day life working in a secret underground lab with her dad and their four human “test” subjects; Cas, Nick, Trev and Sam. This is probably my biggest pet peeve about the book but I will cover that in a minute. Anna doesn’t know exactly what the boys will be used for, or why they are locked in her basement but she is always happy to see and interact with them. And by interact I mean the only time she had physical contact with them was after she knocked them out with sleeping gas.
This is where my “what the heck?!” face came in. You see as you read the book you find out that Anna is ridiculously curious and equally stubborn. Yes I know these are good traits for a main character but I felt it was always inconsistent when it came to Anna. She has a underground secret lab under her farm house in heaven-only-knows where NY, that has FOUR men locked away, and she only attempted to get information a handful of times? But she is willing and ready to knock on every door and search every corner of the world to find the meaning behind some scars on Nick’s chest? It just didn’t jibe with me, but I was able to look around that “little” irritant.
The next thing that aggravated me was Anna’s “logic”. I’m not a daddy’s girl so maybe I’m the one with the issues, but she repeatedly reminds herself, and us, of her unrestricted and unwavering trust in her dad and “the program”. Even though she doesn’t know what the program is, what it’s suppose to test, how long it’s been running, or when it will be over. So strike one to Anna’s logic there.
Next in Anna’s suppose “logic” is her self preservation instinct. Or lack there of in this instance.
I have been taught my whole life to defend myself in the event of an altercation that gets out of hand before I can walk away. I don’t have to start the trouble and I definitely don’t have to go looking for it but I can definitely finish it. Anna, has had combat training her ENTIRE life, but as soon as a gun is pulled on her she stands there staring down the barrel. At first I thought maybe I was overreacting, it’s only logical for people to be afraid when they see someone aim a firearm at them and mean it. So she gets a pass on that one. But then she was attacked by this trailer trash redneck chick and she froze AGAIN! Did I miss something? You have trained to defend yourself your entire life! Did you think it was just a hardcore way of exercising? Strike two against Anna’s “logic”.
The final blow to the “I hate Anna’s logic coffin” is a bit of a spoiler so I won’t go into detail. Let’s just say it involves an old abandon house in the middle of nowhere, that required a 5 mile hike in the freezing ran.
Doesn’t sound pleasant does it? Because it is not pleasant nor SMART!
I just couldn’t understand how this extremely book smart (as we say in the “hood”) girl made so many stupid and petty decisions. I wanted to like her. I really really tried to! I loved the idea of a new kind of heroine! One who wasn’t all kick ass, or pumped full of crazy superpowers; what I got was a girl more concerned about her jeans, love life, and her dead/undead mother.
The men chasing her with guns? Forget about it.
The years of lying from her father? Who cares!
The complete lack of money, passports, or reliable and legal transportation to get away alive? Not on her radar.
But it wasn’t all bad for me. I promise! 🙂
- I seriously loved and enjoyed each of the boys, except Chase who I was mostly indifferent about (like a younger brother). Nick was my all time favorite! Nick and I had a lot in common and I just connected better with him. For instance, he despised and didn’t trust Anna, so we have that in common. But more than that he had good instincts, and instead of going back and forth or pretending to be someone he wasn’t he went with his gut and did what was best for his, and the boys, survival.
- The mystery, was mind blowing. I would have never guessed, like EVER guessed that ending, or middle for that matter. And believe me, I can figure out the ending to a movie/book 20 minutes in and be damn near spot on so this was a refreshing and surprising experience for me.
- The writing as a whole gave just enough to grab my attention but never to much to lose that attention. Not only that, but I’m pretty sure that Rush was some type of undercover super spy once upon a time, because there is NO WAY she just thought up those fight/shooting scenes! No ma’am that just isn’t possible with the amount of detail and precision written into those scenes.
Even though Altered wasn’t a five star knock’em dead book for me I really did enjoy reading it. I felt that the world building, the writing and character development was phenomenal. I loved the mystery and suspense involved with looking for the clues and uncovering the truth. Yeah I didn’t like Anna but Cas, Sam, Nick and Trev were able to overshadow my disappointment in Anna.