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Book Review: Altered by Jennifer Rush

When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?

The door shut behind him and his footsteps pounded down the steps. I whirled on Nick. “Why did you do that?”
He cracked a knuckle. “You think you have any right to my memories? To my life before this? You don’t.”
Trev rose behind me. “Anna.”
“why do you make me look like the bad guy?  Like I can’t keep your secrets or something.”
Nick tsked. His expression turned coarse. “Because what if you can’t? You’re the daughter of the enemy. We never should have brought you in the first place.”
I started for him, not that I even knew what I planned to do. Punch him? Gouge out his eyes? A hard dig of the thumbs, don’t give in, even if it makes you squirm.
Thankfully, it didn’t come to that. Trev stepped between us. Don’t, the look on his face said. You’re being ridiculous.
I huffed in resignation as Nick cracked another knuckle. The tension felt thick enough to braid. If it weren’t for Trev, I was almost certain Nick would have fought me, not even caring that I was a girl.
And that was a fight I would never win.

Anna and her father are working on a top secret project for The Branch- involving the splendid and genetically altered Boys (Sam, Trev, Cas and Nick) and an attempt to turn them into the perfect soldiers. Hidden underneath their farmhouse, Anna assists by taking blood samples, making notes, and interacting with The Boys, but never knows what the project is, or what the end goal is.  However, there is one thing she knows- she is especially connected to Sam, more so than is safe. When The Branch decide that the project is over and collect their specimens, The Boys and Anna escape and go on the run across the country away from the farm and following clues to discover the missing memories of Sam and hopefully why they were in the project to begin with. Yet, even though Anna’s attraction to Sam is growing stronger with each passing moment, could his past break them apart?

Jennifer Rush’s writing really captivates a reader, and the action will draw teens in looking for more than your typical romance story.  Trev, Cas and Nick add their own dimensions to the world Rush builds, and the twists and turns within their story lines never stop.  There is a LOT of violence (killings, gun-play, martial arts fighting- think teenage Jason Bourne on paper) so it is not for your more conservative readers.  However, those who love romance books with a kick will really like this one- it’s a nice, fast read.  I’d actually pair it with readers who liked Kady Cross’ Steampunk Chronicles- adventure and romance rolled into one.  Also, think Maximimum Ride by James Patterson.  Add it if you have a large YA collection, I suspect demand will be high.
Altered is published by Little, Brown, and will be released January 1, 2013. Interested in winning my ARC of Altered? Give me your favorite action/adventure book with your email in the comments below!

I really wanted to LOVE this book, but I ended up only liking it (3 out of 5 stars).  Genetic manipulation, hidden super soldiers in the basement, secret military projects, running from The Branch- it was like The Pretender, The Bourne series, and James Bond rolled into one.  It was marred however, like a lot of Bond movies, by the heroine.
It’s not that I wanted Anna to be something more than she should have been, but I needed her to have a little bit of confidence in herself or to understand more why she doesn’t.  We get the story through Anna’s eyes, and the only thing Anna has in her eyes is Sam. Everything else is secondary; her father gets shot, but she can run off with Sam and as long as he’s near that’s OK; Sam can kill everyone, but as long as she can see him, that’s fine – I wished that she was a little less wrapped up in Sam. 
It doesn’t help that a few times in the first half of the book she refers to herself in a derogatory tone and I just want to smack her upside the head. It’s mentioned in the first few chapters that Anna has taken COMBAT training for Pete’s sake, snap into it.  I don’t want you to be Jinks or Wai Lin, but could you please not be Bibi?  Anna does come into her own a little bit, and I have to wonder how much of it has to do with the plot twists and story line, but Rush never goes into that in Altered, so I can only go with what she gives me- and what she gives me does not give enough background to figure out why Anna doesn’t have faith in herself, and then suddenly can fight and command by the end of the book. *sigh*
There are also a LOT of plot twists and turns with Altered, and a HUGE one I didn’t see coming- things I like, which is good.  There are also some unbelievable things in there (rainbows and butterflies), which I don’t like.  The ending was a little too quick, and I wanted MORE.  More character building, more substance, more build-up to a world that I could have easily fallen in love with, as opposed to just like with.  

Interested in winning my ARC of Altered? Give me your favorite action/adventure book with your email in the comments below!