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, solemn and brooding; Cas, lighthearted and playful; Trev, smart and caring; and Sam . . . who’s stolen Anna’s heart. Reserved and always controlled, Sam does everything with purpose.
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 go, 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.
Anna has a different kind of life. She’s home schooled, doesn’t have a mom, and she works with her dad in the basement of their farmhouse monitoring and studying four young men whom the government is ‘molding’. But what are they being molded for, and why doesn’t Anna have more answers? She’s privy to limited information, and although she wants more, she’s never really made any real concerted efforts to get it.
It becomes very clear very quickly that Anna doesn’t have any friends … except, well, the boys. Although they live in ‘cells’ and there is a glass wall that separates her from them, she knows them well, spends time with them, entertains them, and connects with them. It’s clear within the first few pages that Trev, Cas and Sam all adore Anna in their own unique ways. Nick, however, is a bit of a surly one and seems to hate the fact that Anna even exists. Mostly, Anna just ignores his sourness, but she can’t always hide the teeny tiny blob of fear that nestles deep in her belly when she has to interact with him personally.
After spending four years with Anna and her dad in their basement, Anna and the boys, albeit locked up, have grown up together. But what kind of life is this? Anna, who cares about her boys more than she lets on, ponders this often. How is this fair to them and why, why is it so important that they be locked up like this. In their midnight games of chess, Sam has, in so many ways, made it clear that all they really desire is a life outside their cells.
Sam. The apple of Anna’s eye, the thump thump of her heart, and the very single reason she plods down into that basement every single day. Is it possible for her to love him so much, when their relationship is already so unconventional? What’s more, does Sam know? God, Anna hopes not.
Then, one day, they get their wish. The government rocks up and announced that they’ve decided to terminate the project, which means terminating the boys. In the middle of the extraction process, Sam miraculously defies all odds and defeats his captors. Anna, in a moment of pure panic, joins in the fight to free her boys and suddenly, after much blood is spilled, finds herself on the run from a secret government agency with four boys who have been wired and programed into some kind of superhuman being. What exactly that entails, none of them know.
They’re not safe from the government, they may not even be safe from each other…
As they run for their lives, Sam, Anna and the boys discover secret after secret about themselves, their pasts, and their ugly fated future. As the story careens to the finish line, one thing becomes blindingly obvious: even though they didn’t know it, this all started with Sam and Anna, so it only seems fitting that it end with them too.
This book has it all: romance, action, oh-so-much action! It’s a contemporary reality smeared together with just a hint of fantasy that barrels along at warp speed! It’s both character and plot driven, descriptive without being overbearing, and the best thing? Both guys and gals are going to dig this one!
The relationship between Sam and Anna, although completely central to the story, doesn’t take over and turn this into a wishy washy chicklit read. At times I was incredibly frustrated at the distance Sam put between himself and Anna, but the wedge only drew me in further as their romantic tensions sizzled the pages to life. So little touching, so so much fire.
I laughed out loud at Cas’ witty humor and inflated ego, I gasped loudly as trouble found them at every corner they turned. I wanted to cry as people they cared about were gunned down, left behind to bleed out alone. I swore loudly as betrayals broke their circle down. But the thing that had me allllllll wound up in a bundle of anxious nerves was the fact that no one could trust anyone, and it seemed that no one was exactly who they said they were. There were times when I thought everything was false, and then others when I completely doubted my instincts. I LOVED the unpredictability of everything. It was refreshing and incredibly invigorating to read.
A debut author couldn’t want anything better than this for herself. Perfectly written, utterly engaging, Altered hit every single one of my literary taste buds. It’s addictive and perfect in every single way.
Everyone on the face of the earth needs to read this book right now!
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co.
Publication Date: January, 2013
Teaser Quote: Brakes screeched behind us. I looked back but Nick urged me on with a shove. Footsteps pounded after us. Cas reached the Jeep first. Sam tossed him the keys and Cas snatched them from the air before sliding behind the wheel. Trev ripped up on the back door handle.
“Get the girl first!” someone shouted.