Altered, by Jennifer Rush

AlteredWhat happens when everything you think you know is only scratching the surface of the truth? Anna’s life has fallen into a routine. When she is not being home-schooled, she is taking martial arts classes and trying out recipes from her deceased mother’s journal. She also helps her scientist father in the lab, who is working for an organization called the Branch on a top-secret mission that involves monitoring the condition of four genetically altered boys confined in lab cells – Nick, Cas, Trev, and Sam. With the exception of Nick, who takes his fury over his imprisonment out on her, she befriends the other three with a special preference towards Sam, whom she finds herself mysteriously drawn to. However, those friendships are called into question when the Branch decides to take the boys and Sam stages an escape. During the ensuing aftermath, each boy changes before her eyes in ways that she never dreamed possible. To keep her safe, the boys take her with them on Sam’s quest to discover his past using clues he had planted before the Branch wiped his memory. What they discover will change Anna’s life forever and put into question everything she held true.

All in all, this was a stunning and captivating debut by Rush. Although only told in first-person from Anna’s perspective, Rush very deftly creates smart and descriptive dialogue that breathes life into every one of the characters and turns them into dynamic, three-dimensional individuals. The story is action-packed and suspenseful with a touch of humor, including several unexpected twists and turns that will keep the reader breathlessly wanting to turn page after page to discover what happens next. The ending was satisfying, yet open-ended enough to merit another installment. Altered is a must-read!

–Emily Chandler, Lawrence Library

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