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A Reader of Fictions: Altered States - Bush

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Friday, August 24, 2012

Altered States - Bush

Altered, Book 1

Author: Jennifer Rush
Pages: 323
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date:  January 2, 2013
Source: Gifted by Bekka of Pretty Deadly Reviews for review & giveaway during Dystopian August

Description from Goodreads:
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.

First Sentence: "For most of the last five years, I wasn't allowed in the lab."

Despite the slightly more boy-friendly cover (maybe? I'm guessing. It seems like it holds more boy appeal than some, but I'm not sure about the shirtless guy), Altered is definitely what we generally quantify as a girl book. The main subject of the book, it's driving force, is romance, with all of the science-fiction-y aspects coming second. If you're in the mood for a really hardcore dystopian novel, this is not the one I would recommend.

We'll start with the things that I liked. The best part was Rush's writing style. Her writing is neither overly ornate nor laughably simple. I thought it worked with the story and the intelligence/education level of the heroine, Anna, from whose perspective we see. The only downside, which I'll extrapolate on later, was the tendency towards hackneyed phrases when it came to romance.

The science stuff was definitely cool. Though much of why this is happening and precisely who is responsible for it remains unanswered, Rush has not left her readers completely in the dark like some dystopian authors like to do. I hope to learn more about the processes and any special skills the boys have in the next book. I've always been a sucker for stories about people with special powers, whether mutated or scientifically-given, so this was right up my alley. So far, the book is not especially dystopian, although I think it does qualify, since the government does know of and fund the Program. Still, it's definitely not the best example of one.

There were, however, quite a few things I did not like. First off, there's the characterization. I hardly feel any connection to any of these characters, even Anna. Since I'm looking a the world through Anna's eyes, I ought to care whether she gets Sam, the boy she's been obsessed with for years...but I don't. Other than the fact that she likes to draw and drools over Sam, I know very little about her. She's sometimes sarcastic, but otherwise she's mostly just naive and kind of boring. The boys are a bit more interesting, with Sam being the one I have the least interest in. Actually, the character I liked best was definitely Nick, who I think was supposed to be the one that I didn't like.

It will likely not come as a surprise to find that I did not ship Sam and Anna, since I wasn't invested in either one individually. The biggest problem I had with them as a ship was that there didn't seem to be any reason for them to be into one another, aside from the whole physical attraction thing. Sam seems so much cleverer than Anna, and they really don't seem to share any interests aside from living. There was never anything to explain why she crushed on him so hard or any conversations between the two about something normal to show a real connection, a possible basis for a relationship not driven by heightened we-could-die-at-any-moment emotions. As far as I can tell, their feelings are manufactured solely by the conditions in which they find themselves.

Perhaps the biggest reason that I couldn't handle them, though, was how obnoxious Anna was whenever she thought about him. She indulged in the kinds of phrases YA heroines love to bandy about that always make me want to punch everything. Here are a couple (though they're from the ARC and could be changed pre-publication):
"If I had known the night before would be our final night together, I would have spent more time with him.
     I would have told him how much he meant to me, that not a second went by when I didn't think about him."
Let's analyze this, shall we? It should be noted that this is early on in the book and Sam has expressed zero interest in her romantically at this point. Her phrasing implies a stronger connection than they had (they played chess together at night, which he always won). What really irritates me is the second half where she says that 'not a second went by' without thoughts of him. Really?! How does she manage to function? Well, she kind of doesn't. She really doze zone out a lot while thinking of him, but, still, think about the implications. When she's taking a dump, she thinks of Sam. All of her dreams? About Sam. NO.
"I fought for air but came up short, like I was drowning, like the panic had filled my mouth, my nose. I gulped. Sam tipped my head back and air trickled into my lungs. This was not happening. Those men were not dead. And Dad was not shot. And I was not so close to Sam that I could feel his breath on my face."
 This quote is worse, as the first can be dismissed as merely a poetic flight of fancy, exaggeration used to show the scale of her love (obsession). This one, though, not so much. Let me add some context: Sam has just shoved her against a rough brick wall, only to stop her from punching him but still. Her first reaction is panic. Okay, good so far. Then disbelief at all the crazy shit that went down (many men were killed so the boys could escape). Realistic response. Her final reaction? Squeeing over how close she is to Sam. *headdesk* This guy just killed a bunch of people, shot your father, and shoved you into a wall and you're STILL distracted by how sexy he is. Oh, HELL TO THE NO.

That all sounds quite harsh, I know, but Altered was a fun, if mindless read. I definitely intend to continue with the story and hope that, since Rush's writing is good, that she will develop further with her characters. Personally, I would love to see a wrench thrown into the story...like Anna starting to like Nick instead? That would be awesome. My opinion: fun book with sexy boys and action scenes but with some major issues.

Favorite Quote: "You're the only person I trust. That's not something you waste."

"Living in a cage
Washing in a birdbath
Sinking in a fish bowl
On a broken farm
I try to never lie
I really do
I wonder if my friends
Will get me through
Conscious of the was as best we can
17 ways to kill a man
States we've been through

Remember: Every comment on a post during Dystopian August is an entry to win one of fourteen dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels IF you've filled out the form from this post.

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Blogger roro said...

tnx for the honest review. i'\m still exited to read it

August 24, 2012 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger aparajita said...

nice review...

maybe i'll read it to form my own opinion about the book....but that cover is totally hot.

Le' Grande Codex

August 24, 2012 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger fakesteph said...

Hahahaha. There were so many things about this review that made me laugh. Especially this: "they really don't seem to share any interests aside from living." I love the premise though. And shirtless boys on covers. I kind of want to read it now.

August 24, 2012 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Cool. I hope you do enjoy it!

August 24, 2012 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I always welcome others to read books and form their own opinions. I suspect a lot of people will really like this one.

August 24, 2012 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Lol. Well, it's one of the books in the giveaway this month...check out the first post of the month for deets.

There is DEF tons of shirtless boy action. They should really make a CW show out of this. Just saying.

August 24, 2012 at 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anya said...

ugh. I hate when there's grammatical errors in published books -_- the cover is... interesting. blast of yellow + shirtless guy. Hmm.

August 24, 2012 at 3:12 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

This one is pre-publication, so I'm not too concerned about errors in grammar. Yeah, not my favorite cover, either.

August 24, 2012 at 3:25 PM  
Blogger Jenni said...

I like the cover of this one actually, but it's really too bad that you didn't give a hoot about the characters. I always find that's the worst for me, where I don't care about anything that can happen to them so nothing feels like it matters. Great review! For the THIRD TIME TODAY! :P

August 24, 2012 at 4:02 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Right? It seems like my reads alternate between strings of books I swoon over and disappointments. Le sigh. This one was fun and entertaining, but I ultimately felt like it was a bunch of empty calories, ya know? I'm hoping there will be more depth in the next one.

I am the fastest! (Not really)

August 24, 2012 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger Carla said...

Thanks for the review.
I like the premise of this book so it's a pity you didn't like the characters. :)

August 25, 2012 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger Adriana @ BooksOnHerMind said...

I don't mind a romance book at all but was hoping for a more action driven book especially since the cover is a guy. Well... I can see where that's contradicting. But ooooh! Powers! I'm a sucker for them too. I wish I can read a book more like what batman is... He's not a hero he's a vigilante! I want more of those books.

Oh wow. The main character is boring. Well I prefer boys more anyway so... (;

Oh God.... I really don't like this girl... I think I'll just skip this book :/

August 25, 2012 at 11:33 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh, I didn't DISLIKE them, but I was sort of meh about them. I did kinda like Nick.

August 27, 2012 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

There are lots of boys. It was a really quick read. It might be worth trying just to see how you feel about it? I don't really know. I will be reading the next book, I imagine, so I didn't loathe it. :/

August 27, 2012 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger Alessandra said...

Er... no. If a cute guy had just shot my father and manhandled me, I would most definitely NOT get swoony.

August 29, 2012 at 4:28 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Right? Her dad wasn't dead, but STILL. Nothing about that whole situation was romantic. I wanted to throw water on her.

August 30, 2012 at 9:21 AM  

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