Super-soldiers with no memories…
Anna reads the journal that her mom left, makes the recipes just as she noted, wishes that she could be with Sam more often – but what future could she have with a memory-wiped young man who’s confined like a lab rat?
What future is there for Anna anyway? She could never talk to outsiders, in case she accidentally said something about the Lab beneath their farmhouse, the Lab housing four young men that the Branch is secretly training for some sort of mission… the four young men who escape, taking Anna with them!
This 2012 title is a “don’t blink” thriller; imagine what will happen to the crew next!
Book info: Altered / Jennifer Rush. Little Brown, 2012. [author’s website] [publisher site] [audiobook excerpt]
My Recommendation: Anna is content in her secluded home-schooled world of the remote farmhouse with her dad and the underground lab where “the boys” live. Why the Branch wanted four young men with no memories to be part of this research was never discussed, nor were the many scars on those very physically fit bodies.
When she turned 16, Dad asked Anna to assist him with testing Sam, Nick, Trev, and Cas, little knowing that she’s been sneaking downstairs to play chess with Sam every night for months. When a routine lab inspection by the Branch brings along highly armed soldiers to remove the boys, Anna’s calm life shatters as the boys manage to escape – and Dad sends her along with them, insisting that she must stay as far away from the Branch as possible!
Suddenly, they’re on the run, trying to outguess agents of the maybe-government-related Branch and stay ahead of police when desperation forces them to steal a car and food. Every hour away from the lab unlocks more of the boys’ impressive physical skills as they seem to react before danger occurs and fight as a team without speaking.
Somehow, tendrils of memory guide Sam to a remote farmhouse where he might have lived before his memories were wiped out by the Branch. Everything is now a clue that could help them unlock the boys’ secrets and regain their pasts.
When Anna’s long-absent mother arrives at the farmhouse with surprising news, there’s little time for a tender reunion as gunfire from Branch agents zings through the walls and windows. Was this a set-up or an accident?
Fleeing again, Anna, Sam and company keep trying to figure out the meaning of the numbers within their scars and messages hidden in their tattoos. Code? Map coordinates?
Harder and harder to stay ahead of the Branch as the crew darts from hiding place to newly remembered landmark to safe house. Graveyards and memories, dead men and long-dead children… whatever happens, Anna cannot leave Sam!
Why were the four young men in the Branch lab in the first place?
Why were their memories wiped out?
How far will they all go to stay out of the Branch’s grasp forever?
Jennifer Rush’s debut novel races along faster than Anna’s feelings for Sam, diving into a dark past that could lead to an even darker future. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.