3/5 stars. Contemporary, Science Fiction, Young Adult, Genetic Alterations
Anna is homeschooled and lives with her father. They live and work at a small farmhouse in the country, one that is bigger than it appears from the outside.
There is a lab in the basement with four genetically altered men – Sam, the leader who hides his emotions and thoughts, Trev, the bookworm who shoots out quotes as advice, Cas, the funny, childlike one, and Nick, the festering angry one – all separated into cages and the subject of analysis by Anna’s dad, and Anna, since she couldn’t seem to stay away from the boys.
All are stronger than the teens they appear to be, thick muscles layered over dense bones, all incredibly attractive, all aging at a slower rate than any human.
When Conner and Riley, leaders of the Branch, a secret organization interested in bio-weaponry, try to take the boys from the lab to start the next faze of their experimentation, everything goes sideways and Anna gets swept into the fray, later learning her past wasn’t as simple as it seemed to her.
Book one, Altered
I didn’t belong in the boys’ world. Not that I belonged in the real world, either.
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 four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, solemn and brooding; Cas, lighthearted and playful; Trev, smart and caring; and Sam… who’s stolen Anna’s heart.
When Sam stages an escape, Anna’s father pushes her to go with the boys, making Sam cryptically promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. On the run, Anna and Sam soon discover that they’re connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.
Book two, Erased
It’d been over two months since we’d escaped the Branch and encountered any of its agents, but that didn’t mean we could lower our guard. Everything we did was calculated and thoroughly planned out. Living a normal life didn’t seem possible, not with the Branch still out there. It was why we were always on edge. We couldn’t relax. Ever. And the longer we went without seeing a Branch agent, the more we felt like our time was running out.
Book three, Reborn
No one involved with the Branch was ever innocent. Me included.
The Branch is in shambles, but Anna, Sam, Cas, and Nick can’t rest easy. Remnants of the organization lurk unseen, and the flashbacks of their old lives are only getting stronger – especially Nick’s.
Following scattered memories and clues from his Branch file, Nick sets off alone in search of answers – and the girl who haunts his dreams. But the sleepy town where she lives is full of secrets, and Nick soon learns that uncovering their shared past may have deadly consequences.
Experience the Branch through Nick’s eyes in tis action-packed finale to the Altered saga.
I liked the Altered Saga. The characters were fun, the story interesting, and the plot action-packed, just how I like it, but I had some problems with everything I liked, so I couldn’t award this a ton of stars for that reason.
The characters: I loved how unique each character was, especially Cas with his playful, buoyant mood that countered the brooding of all the other characters. He was the comedic relief and pulled everything together, in my opinion. I loved all the boys, honestly. Sam was so protective. Nick so damaged and he had a certain connection with Anna that I wish was explored more. Trev was cute as well, with his perfect quotes for every situation and his desire to learn.
I did struggle though with a few points in the story with the characters. There seemed to be some errors just in the thought of the plot to me. For example, the character Trev did some things because he was “protecting someone” but we never really get more about who this person is. It seemed to big of a motivator for that character for the reader not to get more information about that. And Anna, the speaker in the first two books and the closest person to Trev, would ask him more about it. She asks questions all the time and that would certainly be one question she would want to know the answer to.
It was weird because I felt like I could see the authors fascination with the character Nick growing as she wrote the books. In the first, Sam was the primary interest, in the second, the author continued to put him more into the spotlight, and then in the final book, the perspective changed from Anna to Nick and a new character named Elizabeth. I thought this was poor planning. In any series I see where a new book suddenly has a new perspective, especially if it isn’t changing in every book, I can’t help but wonder if that was short sighted on the author’s part.
First off, because the reader is suddenly tipped off to something changing which could mean a death or a change in the central character – which is so frustrating as a reader because we are probably spending less time with the character we learned to love in the first novel.
Secondly, it changes the entire atmosphere of the book. Make it a companion novel instead of part of the same story! This annoyed me with the last book where, instead of Anna who was the narrator for the first two books, we get a dual first person perspective between Nick and Elizabeth. This addition to the series also felt like an afterthought because, while the characters carried through from the first two novels, there could have been more hints dropped to tie them more closely with the plot of the others.
I did love the voices of all of the characters though, especially Nick and his desire to just escape everything he had been through.
There was another plot (I don’t know if I would call it a hole) that is HUGE AND GLARING BUT A SPOILER. I don’t know if the author just forgot to mention why this is or what, but I kept searching for the answer and never got it. Let’s just say the boys and Anna were tied together before the lab, and we knew why the boys ended up at the Branch and why Anna ended up at the Branch, but we don’t know how the boys and Anna met up really outside of that… Anyone who has read this series and knows what I’m talking about and has theories should let me know because I need to know.
The fight scenes were amazing in this book. Normally fight scenes either seem to detail every movement in a way that is painfully slow, or they are so wild and all over the place that I have no idea what is going on, but Jennifer Rush really wrote the fights in such a way that I could see every movement happening and where every character was without feeling like the story was slow. This might have been the best thing about this series. I felt like I was learning how I could write a fight scene understandably while reading this series. I might come back to this series if I ever need some help in writing one.
This series was incredibly enjoyable to read, but it didn’t have that special spark of something new and interesting. Genetic alteration is cool and I am a fan, but it isn’t new. The world wasn’t new. The characters weren’t new. The all-these-hot-guys-around-me trope wasn’t new. Great writing and pacing, but nothing else wowed me enough to have me give the series more than three stars.