Author: Jennifer Rush
Series: Altered, book #1
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Source: DAC ARC Tours
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Smokin' hot cover ALERT! Okay, soooo...yeah, maybe that's what got my attention -- props to the pub -- but the premise also intrigued me. Four boys who don't remember a thing before waking up in an underground lab where they are continually tested and experimented on, without their consent? Now they've escaped and they're taking Anna with them? Yeah, count me in for that ride.
What a remarkable debut from Jennifer Rush! I mean, I expected to like it, what with the action, the chase, and the promise of romance, but I'm kind of blown away with how MUCH I liked it. Like stayed-up-until-the- wee-hours-of-the-morning-reading-it liked it. Hot boys are hot boys are hot boys, but when you consider the genetic alterations and the personalities of each boy and then throw in an innocent girl who's been their friend for the duration of their captivity, you get an awesome cast of characters and a group dynamic that almost becomes a character itself.
All of the boys are around 18, though they've all looked 18 since Anna met them five years ago, and they are all beautiful. Nick is, as one character describes him, "all brass and balls." He assumes that whatever came before the lab isn't worth remembering, so he doesn't even want to try. And he is very distrustful of Anna, with seemingly no reason to be. Cas is the joker of the group, the one who can make light of any situation, and nothing seems to be able to hold his attention for very long...except Anna's cookies. Trev is Anna's best friend -- remember, she's very sheltered because of the Branch operations, so these boys are all she knows -- and he has a finesse for remembering things, especially famous quotations.
Sam is the leader of the group. He is stoic and mild-mannered, but he's caught the attention of Anna. Anna, who is under the assumption that these boys are being trained as the ultimate soldiers for our country. Although the boys can't remember anything of their past lives, they seem to know that this is not true. Without alerting Anna or her father to the plan, the boys formulate a means of escape. You could feel the urge to leave emanating off of them through the pages, especially Sam, but it caught Anna unawares.
The resulting cat and mouse game between the boys and Anna and the Branch agents is exciting and exhilarating as the boys and Anna race to unlock the secrets of their past before they are apprehended. But just as they find one answer, more questions are brought to the surface. As the situation becomes more dire, it becomes evident that they can't trust anyone, maybe not even each other.
This fast-paced thriller kept me glued to the pages, turning them faster and faster as more clues were uncovered. Some aspects were a tad predictable but for the most part, I found myself surprised time and again as I read. And although this is the first book in a planned series, it read as a stand-alone and ended on a note that only hinted at future goings-on. So, you don't have to commit to reading past this first book, but I don't know why you wouldn't want to. =)
"An unremarkable green, like river water, his eyes were nothing to look at, but they were something else to be watched with."
"Hope is a waking dream. I let the words echo in my head. The quote reminded me of that feeling you get when you start to wake from a dream you don't want to leave. That crushing sensation in the center of your chest, like you are losing an important piece of yourself you won't ever get back."
"You're the only person I trust. That's not something to waste."