Sunday, December 8, 2013

Short stories are awesome.  They give us in-depth insight into characters, providing anecdotal proof of why some characters are they way they are.  They entertain by creating a certain mood or focusing on a singular effect...some instance in a previous body of work (or one to follow) that might have been glossed over or ignored completely in a longer novel. 

And so I would like to highlight some short stories and novellas set in worlds I've already come to love and learn a little more about some of the secondary characters in my favorite novels.   In addition to offering up a mini review of these short works of fiction,  I'll be underscoring some of my favorite aspects.

This week I'm featuring a prequel story from Jennifer Rush's Altered series:

Title: Forged
Author: Jennifer Rush
Series: Altered, book #0.5
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Publication Date: December 3, 2013
Source: purchased
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Before Anna and Sam, there was Dani and Sam.

There's one rule that all Branch operatives must live by: No attachments. When Dani O'Brien entered the Branch, she planned to trade her freedom so that her family could have a better life. But joining up with the mysterious organization is more than she bargained for. Branch head Connor watches over her closely--too closely. The training is brutal, the experiments are secret, and the missions promise to be anything but ordinary. The only thing getting Dani through each day is the hope that she'll run into Sam--a young man, about her age, who wears the world on his shoulders.

Find out how it all began in this short-story prequel to Jennifer Rush's thrilling and suspenseful Altered series.

This novella was not at all what I was expecting, though that's probably a good thing because honestly, I didn't really want to see how Dani and Sam's relationship developed.  I didn't love Anna's character in either of the full-length books, but I much prefer her to the morally ambiguous Dani.

Except in Forged, Dani is just a girl.  She's only just entered the program and she hasn't let it change her...yet.  And if you're looking for the Sam you've come to know and, well, tolerate, in the other books, you won't find him here.  When he entered the picture, I actually thought to myself, Wow, Sam is much more verbose than we find him in later years.  That should have been a dead giveaway.  Oh, well.  C'est la vie.

I never fully bought that Connor was completely evil in the other books.  But I also know that I tend to favor the pretty villains, so my judgement may be skewed.  However, I really honestly don't think that Connor is pure evil.  If this story had been ten or twenty pages longer, I think I might have my proof, but at 49 pages, you don't have a whole lot more to go on.

It was nice seeing the program in its early days, seeing some of the actual training and testing that participants had to undergo before being released into the field.  As with the other books, there were a couple of twists that I felt were easy to predict, but also like the previous books, it didn't prove detrimental to the story or my enjoyment of it.  In fact, it aided in my anticipation of what Dani was about to face.  And I might actually like her a little now because of her reactions.

Check out my reviews for the other two books in the series:  Altered & Erased.

Forged (Altered, #0.5)Altered (Altered, #1)Erased (Altered, #2)

Personally, I think the series looks better like this:
Forged (Altered, #0.5)Altered (Altered, #1)Erased (Altered, #2)

About the author:

Jennifer Rush lives in a little town on the shoreline of Lake Michigan with her husband and two children. She grew up wanting to be an Egyptologist, but realized she hated the desert and declared herself a writer instead. She won her first writing award in the fourth grade (a Mickey Mouse pencil was the prize) and has been crafting stories ever since. In her free time, she likes to read, Photoshop, and consume large amounts of caffeine.

Her debut YA, ALTERED, released January 2, 2013, from Little, Brown.

Her debut middle-grade, BOT WARS, released March 21, 2013, from Dial Books for Young Readers. It's written under the pen name J. V. Kade and can be found HERE.

Find Jennifer:

WebsiteTwitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Tumblr | Instagram


  1. I'm so glad you reviewed this one, Jen! I was really curious about it. I'd like to see a Sam who is not quite so emotionally closed off, but I don't want to see him with Dani at all. I'm still not sure if it's worth going back in time to this one, but I'm glad it surprised you.

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