Friday, December 21, 2012

Review: Altered by Jennifer Rush

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Jennifer Rush
Series: Altered, #1
Publication date: January 1st 2013
by Little, Brown & Co.


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.

*A copy was provided by Hachette Book Group Canada for review purposes*

Altered is one of those books that are highly addicting, with action that engrosses you until you become quite satisfied with the read. But, there are particulars that nagged at me which, individually, are irrelevant, but together, they become a little too bothersome to simply forgive and forget.

The whole story in Altered consists of a chase. These modified humans have escaped their prison, and, bringing Anna with them, are on the run from her father’s employers. Throughout this run we get clues that were planted to help them find something that is apparently very important. Deciphering these clues were, for the most part, pretty interesting, even clever at times. However, when they stumble upon a “code” that is simply a mix of X V I letters… and they don’t get what it means… I had to stop reading to take a breath and roll my eyes a little. Even though Anna is home schooled and lacking a life outside the lab, numeral numbers are hardly mystifying. Especially when she “gets it” after seeing a grandfather clock. This is definitely a very small matter, nonetheless, it got under my skin and made me see the protagonist as a little brainless.

That was the first annoyance I stumbled upon. The second came by when they idiotically decide to walk into the enemy headquarters. Why? I have no clue. It made no sense for them to do so other than to create more plot excitement. Obviously, it went about as well as you can imagine. Seeing as they had no reasoning behind this decision, I got irritated by the stupid factor of it and hoped they got what they deserved.

These issues aside, I did quite enjoy the book, especially the scientific notions involved. I love the idea of genetic modifications, humans with abilities or powers, and Altered is fascinating on that front. I wanted to know more, though. Why it all started; the point behind everything. I’ll assume those details are forthcoming. In this first installment, we’re focusing on the boys and learning the ropes along with them. The characters are a fun bunch of charismatic guys. Some charming, some… not. I enjoyed the diversity in their personalities, which made for a great group dynamic. They’re all as close as brothers; they’re all they’ve ever known, after all. There is also romance involved, which becomes the source of some controversy between the boys. I thought Rush blended this aspect well with the overall pacing of the book; it will satisfy those who need romance in their books, but it doesn’t distract from the intensity of the plot. Personally, I never felt a true connection between Anna and Sam, though. It was missing that spark. This could be due to characterization issues: With so much happening, being on the run for most of the book, character building is not the book’s first priority. This is fine for the type of story it’s trying to be, but the authenticity is lacking in the romantic element.

Altered is not without its flaws, still, the story is engaging with enough excitement to make these flaws a little less consequential. Having seen this novel being tagged as dystopian/post apocalyptic, I must warn you that I never got a dystopian feel from this whatsoever. It’s an action novel dealing with genetics, abilities, and a messed up government behind it all. Read it when you’re in the mood for a fast paced sci-fi thriller, not a science-y dystopian–in which case I’d recommend Partials.  

3 Hot Espressos
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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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27 Responses to “Review: Altered by Jennifer Rush”

  1. Rebecca

    I’ve already preordered my copy and am looking forward to reading it but am a little worried I’ll be let down after reading your review. The issues you mentioned sound pretty annoying but I guess I’ll just give it a go and see what I think.

  2. Mel@Thedailyprophecy.

    I’m happy that there are still authors who can work out a good romance story without overpowering the real story 🙂 But I hate it when the characters make stupid mistakes without a real reason. I always want to smack them and I can understand why you rolled your eyes with the “code” While I love the concept of the genetic modification, because science is great, I’m not sure if I will read this book 🙂


  3. Nick

    When I first saw the cover, I wasn’t sure that this was a book I wanted to read. Nothing about it really grabbed my attention. The reviews so far for this book have been really positive, so I had plans of getting a copy when the book came out. I probably would be annoyed with those little issues as well, so I can see why they bothered you. Also, it sucks that you couldn’t a connection with Anna and Sam. Connecting with my MC is very important for me. So, now I’m wondering if I really should read this or not!
    Still, thanks for the great honest review, Giselle! 🙂

  4. Amy

    Hmmm I wanted to read this, but honestly I think that there are other books that I would rather spend the time with than this one after reading your review. It sounds good, I love action, love messed up governments, but it sounds like one that I could either take or leave and not give it a second thought. Great review baby cakes!!

  5. Stephanie Sinclair

    Hmm… This doesn’t sound like my kind of book. The things you mentioned (entering the enemy building for plot excitement) would really tick me off. That’s what happened in Revolution 19. It’s irritating and I suppose I don’t have the patience for books that do that. >.<

  6. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    OMG I completely forgot about their genius decision to walk into enemy headquarters! bahaha

    I didn’t feel the romance in this one either. I think it would have been a lot better had it focussed more on the group dynamic than the romance. Great review!

  7. Mary @ BookSwarm

    Sounds like a good book, as long as you overlook certain…inconsistencies. I’ve always enjoyed genetic mod stories and don’t mind the lack of character-building, as long as the action’s good.

  8. Christina

    Ha, yup. I agree with you on this book. The heroine was dumb and, as a result, they did a lot of stupid, unnecessary things. It was a fun read, but not necessarily a good one. Not very dystopian, no. I wish they would stop being mislabeled. :/

  9. Ems

    I wanted to read this one based on the cover (I know, I know…I totally judge books by their covers), but I think maybe I’ll make it a library request instead of an order. It sounds interesting, but probably not enough to own.

  10. Kris (Imaginary Reads)

    I’ve been looking forward to reading this book. It sounds like the action I’ve been anticipating is there. What worries me is the characters. If I find it hard to relate to them, it can really detract from my enjoyment of a book… like when they make silly decisions with no clear motivation. It’s good to have a heads up when going into a book. Thanks for the review!

  11. Ashley

    Kind of sucks about the points you mentioned. I can’t believe she didn’t get Roman numerals lol.

    I’ll probably still read this at some point, but I’m bummed you didn’t enjoy it more!

  12. Renu

    I agree, this was an addictive read and I loved the action and mystery! Sam was probably my favourite out of the guys, Cas a close second. I can’t wait for the sequel!

    Great review. 🙂

  13. Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue

    This could be due to characterization issues: With so much happening, being on the run for most of the book, character building is not the book’s first priority. This is fine for the type of story it’s trying to be, but the authenticity is lacking in the romantic element.

    Hmm. So this is a really valid issue, and one that if it happens in a book I’m reading, will definitely take my enjoyment down a few notches. (In fact, I think this is what was going on for me when I read Renegade recently.) It’s tough sometimes, because I feel like the stories get away from authors, and they end up letting part of the story slide to focus on another aspect. So meh, BUT, this one still sounds good!

  14. Jennifer Messerschmidt

    I love government conspiracies and experiments so I think I’ll enjoy the action and some of the mystery. I agree that the roman numerals thing ad walking into enemy territory for no reason is strange. They aren’t entering the territory to retrieve anything or rescue anyone or anything?! Weird! Also disappointed the romance isn’t much but still sounds worth a read sometime.

  15. Jen (A Reading Daydreamer)

    Aww, I’m sad to hear that the characters were a little brainless! That’s got to be pretty annoying. I’m glad that you thought the scientific elements were cool though. I’m not too sure if I would like the romance that is included in Altered, but it sounds alright. Brilliant review, Giselle!

  16. Beverley

    I first heard about this in a WoW and immediately fell for the cover. It’s pretty hot 😉

    The whole genetic modification concept really fascinates me and I’m eager to see how Rush deals with it. It’s a shame about the somewhat ‘brainless’ protagonist – it’s always annoying when you guess something before the characters!

    Thanks for the fab, honest review, Giselle!

  17. Henrietta @ Leisure Reads

    This story still sounds exciting to me despite the stuff that you mentioned. Since I’ll be making many trips to Chapters in the holiday, I think I’ll check out the book when it’s released. Now that you mentioned it, I think I’ll have to look at Partials too when I’m at Chapters 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Giselle!

  18. Erin W.

    I’m looking forward to reading this book but I’m going to try and keep in mind that I should not to expect anything epic to happen . . . but let’s hope I like it. Great review!

  19. Jesse Burgoyne

    Whenever a character does something stupid and consequently puts their own or someone else’s life in danger, I can’t help but think how much they deserve whatever they get. Despite the little annoyances you mentioned, this one still sounds really good and I’m really excited to read it!

    Jesse @ Pretty In Fiction

  20. Tabitha

    I’m really looking forward to reading this book. I’m not usually one for action packed books so I don’t have the highest expectations for it but I’m still looking forward to it! Great review.

  21. Vivian @ Vivaciously, Vivian

    Ah…one of those books where those icky bits all add up to ultimately flip things towards the negative side in the end. Genetic modifications are definitely super cool to read about, but actually, these scientific growths are not too far from reality (there can now be 3-parent babies to decrease chance of diseases.) Too bad that the main girl’s a bit of the brainless type. Thanks for the fair review, Giselle!