Altered - Jennifer Rush

Anna’s father is a scientist in charge of an experiment involving four genetically altered boys. These four boys are kept in his basement where they are under observation while they undergo treatments. The four boys are Nick, Trev, Cas, and Sam. They have no memories of their lives before a specific point. Anna assists her father with these experiments. But when the day comes for the boys to be taken away by the heads of the program, the four boys escape, and Anna’s father makes her go with them. The five of them are now on the run as they search for answers to the secrets in their past.


I enjoyed the experiment and mystery aspects of the book. The slow reveal of the secrets of the project kept me intrigued throughout the book, even if some of the answers became a bit obvious before they were revealed to the group. I really like stories about people with powers, and I want to know more about everything that the boys can do.


Sadly, despite the interesting plot, there were things that bugged me. I will admit, the first point is something that has become a pet peeve of mine, so it bothers me a lot more than it would most people. I’ll just apologize now (and later) for my little rant.


Something that bothers me in this book happens near the beginning. During the boys’ escape, Sam purposefully shoots Anna’s father to make it seem like he didn’t help them escape. Anna freaks out because her father just got shot, which is a reaction I completely understood. Sam tells her not to worry because he shot him so that he’d merely be injured, but wouldn’t die from the wound. After a bit more freaking out, she pretty much accepts it and is okay with the whole matter. That I don’t get. He freaking shot her father. Her father could die. I don’t care that Sam said that he shot her father in a way so that he definitely wouldn’t die. He’s a liar, and she shouldn’t believe him.


Every surgery carries the risk of death to the person undergoing the operation. It doesn’t matter how simple or common the procedure is; death is still a possible outcome. The chance of death may be incredibly small for some surgeries, but it’s still a possibility. Why? Sometimes, shit just happens. Now, if a person has the chance of dying while being operated on by someone who has studied for years and performed the operation multiple times in a sterile environment surrounded by many other trained individuals with a ton of equipment to deal with possible complications, do you really think that someone can make the guarantee that there’s no way someone will die from getting shot? They can’t. Even if no vital organs were hit, the person can still bleed out. The person can go into shock from blood loss. The bullet can hit bones, causing the bone to fragment and creating more projectiles within your body to rip it up. Once again, shit happens. There are places that people are more likely to survive being shot, but there’s no 100% guarantee. Basically, if you shoot someone, you better be sure you’re okay with that person potentially dying. Sam very well could have killed Anna's dad, and if he’s anywhere near as well-versed in guns as he seems, he should know that.


Now, I could see him lying to Anna to calm her down, but Anna accepts what he says as true, and the book seems to present it as absolutely true as well. There’s a reason people think shooting to wound is a thing that can be accurately done whenever. It’s because that idea is repeated in books, movies, and shows over and over again as fact. And when that’s all you see again and again everywhere, it’s easy to believe it’s the truth. Sorry for the rant, but it just really bothers me to have the love interest of the book potentially murder the main character’s father and then see it get treated as if the whole situation is no big deal and the girl shouldn’t freak out about her dad getting shot in front of her eyes. There are breaks in reality I’m willing to accept in fiction, but that’s just not one of them.


So, in case you couldn’t tell, I’m not a big fan of Sam, the love interest. Even without the shooting her father thing, he’s really not that interesting, especially compared to the other three boys. I honestly couldn’t see what Anna saw in him, particularly since she was so crazy about him even before she really hung out with him or anything.

I mean, I know the scientists put a link between the two so that they’d be crazy about one another, which explains their behavior before the reveal. But after the reveal, I was really wondering why they weren’t sitting down to think about what exactly they liked about one another and realizing that their whole attraction was based on a science experiment. The whole ‘engineered romance’ thing was the most interesting part of their relationship, and it just gets brushed off so easily.

(show spoiler)

I just never felt the chemistry between Sam and Anna. I thought Anna had more chemistry with any of the other guys. Plus, they were all more interesting than Sam. I would have been more invested in her with Nick, Trev, or Cas. But no, the love interest is the boring guy, Sam.


Unfortunately, the romance was a big part of the story. It didn’t take over the plot too much, but it was pretty much always present. And since I found the romance boring, I kept bouncing between bored by the romance and interested by the plot and mysteries.


There were also moments where I questioned the group's intelligence a little bit. The boys are supposed to be incredibly intelligent. Sam is supposed to be really good with languages and codes. They encounter a message (written by Sam before the memory loss) consisting of I’s, V’s, and X’s. And it stumps them for a while. It’s only after looking at a clock that Anna figures out that the message is roman numerals. That was the first thing I thought with the message, so it really surprised me that they were stumped for so long by it.


Despite my complaints, I really did enjoy the books. I found the secrets, mysteries, and experiments intriguing. It was quick, and the plot kept me interested. I liked the characters. (Okay, not Sam, but everyone else.) I’m curious enough to see what happens to everyone to pick up the next book.