Altered: Jennifer Rush
February 18, 2013
Author: Jennifer Rush
Age Range: 12 and up
Altered by Jennifer Rush is a thriller featuring genetic manipulations and wiped memories (similar to False Memory by Dan Krokos). Anna lives with her father in a house in the woods, helping to care for the four teenage boys who live as prisoners and test subjects in a basement lab. One of the boys is Anna's best friend, another is her enemy, a third is a more casual friend, and the fourth ... is Sam, who Anna is crazy about. When violence breaks out in the lab, Anna ends up on the run with the boys, learning more than she could ever have imagined about them, and about herself.
I found the start of Altered a bit slow, but the action picks up dramatically once the boys are free of their cells. For me, it was the early part of the book that strained credibility a bit, too. Like this:
"When I'd first found the lab, it was all I could think about. What were four boys doing in our basement? Where were their parents? How long had they been down there? Dad knew exactly how much information to give to feed my curiosity and keep me quiet. I knew about the Branch, of course. But even though I new who ran the program, I still didn't know why."
Um, yeah, a strange lab with four genetically altered teenage boys in your basement would capture one's attention. Anna's relatively matter-of-fact acceptance of the situation made her a bit hard for me to relate to. And then on the run her clear acceptance of herself as weaker than the four boys, someone to be protected by them, grated a bit for me. She's no Katniss Everdeen. Still, she does improve, if you stick with the book. And the fast-paced, chase-filled story will keep readers turning the pages. There's a major twist that I didn't see coming, which always pleases me (particularly in a case like this, where the author shows you that she completely played fair with the clues).
Altered has an intriguing premise and plenty of action. Although it's not a personal favorite for me, I do think that teens who enjoy science fiction-tinged thrillers will enjoy it.
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (@lbkids)
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Source of Book: Digital review copy from the publisher
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