Home > Mitch's Musings > Altered by Jennifer Rush

Altered by Jennifer Rush

Altered by Jennifer Rush

Altered (Altered 1)

By: Jennifer Rush

Release Date: January 1, 2013

Rating: 4 Stars

Summary: 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.


Some people have weaknesses for sparkly vampires, intense longing gazes, and obnoxious bickering bantering. Mine are high octane chase sequences, shoot em up fight scenes, and actually, conspiracy thrillers of any kind – so to say Altered is right up my alley is kinda an understandment. This isn’t the best I’ve ever read, these are not entirely competent characters and there are scenes that had me muttering ‘no no no why the heck would you do that?’, but overall I’m still quite satisfied by the results.

This is another hard book to review though, because some stuff I initially had problems with are actually explained quite well by later plot twists, so I can say yes this or that aspect bothered me, but I can’t say how it’s resolved or why I’m satisfied. Take for example Anna living for years with four guys in her basement, right away that’s something I can tell is not normal and at least morally questionable if not criminal, but the way Anna handles it by being the willing participant is… naive to say the least. Sure, she’s home schooled, but even with her (blind) trust in what her father’s doing, I find it hard to believe she wouldn’t have second thoughts about the morality of the project. And her naivete not only had me questioning the premise but is also a running theme through the book, even after she and the guys break out and go on the run, she’s the innocent character – a bit too innocent given the entire situation for my tastes. In any other review, I would’ve left it at that and it’d be part of the reason why the book didn’t work for me, but in Altered‘s case at least, there’s a really good explanation for it! I just can’t say, unfortunately, except Anna really grows as a character as she learns more about herself.

There are some things though that doesn’t come with a good explanation, things that I really feel are like rookie mistakes that should’ve been caught and edited out. Right off the bat, the guys steal a car from this small town they’re in, then use the GPS system to guide them to the location of a safe house. Uh, not smart, how hard is it for the bad guys to figure out their fugitives are gonna be driving the one car that’ll be reported stolen from this small town, then track it down using the GPS? And these guys are supposed to be incredibly good at spy stuff? And they wonder why the bad guys catch up to them? Yeah. And as Anna and the guys are on the road, chasing down clues Sam had previously planted, there are a couple of times I felt the group was doubling back because they had previously missed obvious clues (like having to inspect Sam’s tattoo two or three times to get all the information they should’ve gotten the first go around) or not figuring out some very obvious stuff immediately and dismissing it with a ‘hey this looks vaguely familiar but I’m not sure how’ remark which only made it more frustrating to read.

Despite that, I really enjoyed the chase. Even though the guys all have amnesia and Sam only vaguely knows what the endgame is, at least there is an endgame, so I have to say I really enjoyed myself putting together the pieces of the puzzle as Anna and the guys are searching for clues and doing the same, no matter how inefficiently they do it. And even though head villain Connor’s ultimate agenda isn’t revealed until the end, enough of it is dropped throughout the book that he and his Branch organization feel like a genuine threat rather than just one of those nameless faceless corrupt government organizations that just wants the protagonists dead for no reason other than just because. So my reaction whenever his agents pop up and start shooting isn’t ‘oh come on!’ but ‘crap what are they doing now?’ – and that’s really the key that takes the chase sequences, shootouts, safe houses, and dead informants to the next level beyond just mind candy, because after every action packed confrontation, I’ll learn something new and another piece of the puzzle’ll be filled in. Really, that’s all you need to keep me entertained – make sure all the twists work.

Last and quite surprising thing is that, for a thriller, Jennifer Rush actually takes the time to write four distinct characters. Yeah, they start out being based on generic stereotypes, Sam’s the leader, Nick’s the bad one, Trev is the smart best friend, Cas is the funny sidekick, and for Nick at least his back story is predictable to the point of being transparent, but it works, and not just because they’re a good group. Anna has four very different relationships with each one, and if I were to say what happens between Nick and Anna or Trev and Anna is predictable and trite, I’d be lying. Both times. Because as it turns out, along the way, if one of them lands in trouble or gets shot, I don’t even have to ask myself would I care, because I do. And when one of them does something really unexpected, I care too.

From the summary, I could imagine Altered going a number of ways, but I really like the way Jennifer Rush takes it – an action packed thriller with a smidge of science fiction. Definitely an intense ride that totally works its premise.

Go to Mitch’s review on Goodreads.

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