Release Date: January 2nd, 2013
(Thanks to ATWT for allowing me to participate on this tour!)
Published by: Little Brown
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.
1. (+) Anna, the protagonist - What I liked most about Anna was that she knew when she was in the wrong, or when she was being kind of desperate about her feelings for Sam. And I think that it takes a certain kind of bravery to be able to own to that. Also, she's got plenty of courage--at times she can be just as much an asset as the boys are, and she doesn't freak out much, given their circumstances--and she stands up to the boys when they are being unfair.
2. (+) The World-building - I'm glad they didn't go into exact details of the genetic modification, but that means that hardcore sci-fi fans may be disappointed. I loved seeing how the world building coincided with the plot. Sam's got a tattoo of a birch tree on his back--okay, why? Why are there letter scars on each of the boys? How did the boys end up in Anna's basement? Everything unravels slowly, and the author shows you why things happened the way they did.
3. (+) Plot - Lots of action. You know, I was kind of afraid it'd be like Article 5, or Shatter Me, which I personally thought didn't have enough action for a plot that had characters on the run, but there was always something happening in this book, and there were plenty of twists and turns to keep me hooked... Though, because they are on the run, and there's lots of action, you don't get much of a sense of the setting.
4. (+) Unpredictability - A romantic-actiony thriller with some sci fi elements -- well, a thriller, at least for me, needs to be unpredictable in order to be somewhat enjoyable (unless the writing is amazing, and I don't care if I can predict everything, I'm just there for the words). And this book, well, let's just say that details you didn't think would be important come into play later.
5. (+/-) Characters - The boys were kind of stereotypical. Personally, I think any author who makes his/her characters amnesiac or does something so that they don't know their pasts is in for a tough job. It's really hard to get to know the essence of a character without his/her past, or at least to know them in such a way where you feel like the character can only exist in THAT book. Plus, when the boys' pasts were revealed, well, they were kind of predictable. That's not to say I didn't enjoy reading about the characters. Sam, the cool, purposeful leader. Cas, the loyal jokester. Nick, the brooding and angry (well, actually I didn't really like Nick, because it's not even that he's the legitimately angry one, causing fights. He's just whine-y) rebel. Trev, the English literature buff and resident best friend.
6. (--) The Villains - The villains, to me, were not scary enough. Anna and the boys were constantly on the run, but sometimes it was just too easy for the boys to get away. There's a delicate line between the boys being too strong of soldiers, and the villains being too weak. This is something that probably will vary among readers, but for me, the Branch did not pose much of a threat.
7. (+/-) Romance - For me, it didn't feel like there was enough of a build up. A lot of the times, I wondered why Sam likes Anna, especially given some of the plot twists. Anna's feelings felt very organic, but how about Sam's? But I am kind of a sucker for the strong and silent type, and Sam embodies that. The scenes with just the two of them are packed with tension, and not going to lie, I enjoyed every minute of those scenes and wished they had lasted longer.
8. (+/-) Writing - Standard fare writing, easy to read, but had a few cliches like "frustration (or was it irritation?) flooded me" etc. etc.
9. (+) Pacing - Constantly moving. Well & fast paced.
10. (+) The Cover - This book is very much about Sam's mystery, which is well represented by the birch tree. I like the dramatic effect of the black and white with the yellow too.
If you're looking for an unpredictable and action packed romantic thriller, Altered is the book for you.