AlteredAltered by Jennifer Rush

Publisher: Hachette Book Group, January 1, 2013

Format: Kindle and Audio Book

Reviewed by: Ellen

Genre: Young Adult

Final Grade: 9/10

Plot: 18-year-old Anna lives in a house in Upstate NY with her father…and four super hot guys who live in rooms in her basement. The four boys – hottie Sam (that’s him on the cover), funny Cas, erudite Trev, and hostile Nick – have been “altered” by the people Anna’s father works for (“the Branch”). The boys have no memories of their lives before they lived in Anna’s house, and neither they nor Anna are completely sure of what sort of alterations they’ve received. The book centers around the search to discover the boy’s history (specifically Sam) and, in the end, nothing and no one are what they seem to be.

Review: I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I’m not going to lie, I really bought it because of the photo on the cover (who can resist that?!) and this sort of subject isn’t generally my cup of tea. But it was much, much better than I had anticipated. I originally purchased this as an audio book because I was doing a lot of driving and got so into it that I ended up being too impatient to wait to see what would happen that I purchased it on Kindle as well. If that doesn’t speak for how much I liked it, then I don’t know what does.

There was tons of action and I thought the author did a great job of developing the characters and delving into their backgrounds. I do have to confess that there were parts where I was a bit confused by what was going on, but I think that could be in part due to the fact that I was driving during most of the “reading” and didn’t want to die. I loved the gradual development of the romance between Anna and Sam, and the fact that there was no forced love triangle is always appreciated.

My one main complaint about the book is that I really think you have to read the sequel in order to fully grasp all the stuff with the Branch. Who are these people? Why and how were the boys chosen to be altered? What’s the whole purpose of these alterations? It’s possible that some of my questions were answered and I missed it, but it really took reading the sequel to understand it all. (Note: although there is a sequel, this book is NOT ended on a cliffhanger. I didn’t even realize there was going to be a sequel until last week, after it was published.)

Based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the heroine: 8. In general, I liked Anna quite a bit. There were times where her internal monologue became a bit too “woe is me” but then she’d buck up. Nothing that she experiences in the book would be easy to handle, so she does admirably well. I wish she had been a little less obvious with her affection for Sam (have some pride, girl!) but the fact that she was capable of thinking about other things than just him is woefully unexpected in today’s YA world.

How much did I like the love interest: 9. Yeah, Sam doesn’t have the most vocal role in this book as he’s a quiet guy, but he’s hot, intelligent, and can shoot a gun. So bonus points for that. It would have been nice to get more insight into his thoughts and emotions, but

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that’s not going to happen in a first-person book like this. I don’t love how he planned to use Anna’s affection against her, but I understand that no one wants to be trapped in a basement. Also, he seems to have an allergy to wearing shirts. That seems like an important fact to convey.

How believable is the plot: 8. Do I believe it’s possible that DNA alterations are being done to create some sort of “super human”. Yeah, I could see it. But this doesn’t seem to be by the military or government, which lessens believability. However the part that really loses me is the fact that Anna knows these boys live in her basement, she loves one of them and has become great friends with two others, and yet doesn’t do anything to break them out. Who would do that?

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. The book flowed really well and I enjoyed her writing style. There might have been some editing errors, but those don’t come across in the audio book. I just wish more info on the Branch had been given in this book – although I guess that would have made this one way too long.

How much did I want to keep reading: 10. I bought the audio book AND Kindle edition. I’m a student and I spent about $25 just because I was so impatient to know what was going to happen. A definite first.

Final Score: 9/10. Very enjoyable. Hot guys, lots of action, and a bit of romance. What else could you ask for?

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