Altered by Jennifer Rush

The basics

Title: Altered


Series: Altered #1

- Altered (January 2013)
- Erased (January 2014)
- Reborn (January 2015)

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Goodreads Summary:

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, light-hearted and playful; Trev, smart and caring; and Sam . . . who's stolen Anna's heart.

When the Branch decides it's time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape. Anna's father pushes her to go with them, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs.

On the run, with her father's warning in her head, Anna begins to doubt everything she thought she knew about herself. She 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.

Read a full summary of Altered by Jennifer Rush below. If you can’t remember what happened in Altered and you need a refresher, then you’re in the right place.

in short

Four boys escape a lab with the scientist’s daughter in tow. They’ve had their memories wiped, and seem to have been made into the perfect soldiers, with enhanced strength and instincts. They drive across the country trying to discover where they came from. They find a house that Sam owns, where they find some information and guns. Sura, Anna’s not-mother, shows up and explains that Sam was once with a girl called Dani when he escaped five years back, before the Branch caught him. Dani is now dead. Agents swarm the house, called there by Trev, and Cas is caught. Everyone else escapes to Port Cadia, where Dani used to live. It’s revealed that Anna is Dani’s younger sister. Their parents were murdered by the Branch, and Anna was taken after Dani died. They find lots of evidence buried near the house. Riley from the Branch shows up, once again called there by Trev. Anna and Sam find out that Trev betrayed them. Sam is shot and captured, but Anna and Nick get away. Arthur, Anna’s not-father turns up to help. They go to the Branch headquarters, and find Sam and Cas. There’s a fight, Connor dies, and Nick, Anna, Arthur, Cas, and Sam escape with the help of Trev.

what happened in Altered?

  • Anna is a scientist’s daughter. Her father keeps four guys – Sam, Nick, Cas, and Trev – in a lab under the house. Anna has a crush on Sam, Nick is an ass, Cas is a joker, and Trev likes quotes.
  • Anna was thirteen when she discovered them in the lab.
  • Anna asks Sam about the scar on his chest, but he refuses to tell her. Nick has a similar scar. They look like letters.
  • Anna looks at her dad’s file on Sam. It mentions “OP ALPHA” and that Sam and co. had previously escaped. There’s also the name O’Brien. Anna wants to tell Sam about his past.
  • Connor, Anna’s dad’s boss, arrives at the house with a guy called Riley and a bunch of guards. He announces that the project is over and that they’re taking “the units”. Anna’s dad argues, saying that there’s no Alpha without the boys.
  • Gas is released into the boys’ cells. As the agents open the cells, Sam attacks the one in his. The gas hasn’t affected him.
  • Connor grabs Anna and tells Sam to drop the gun. Anna elbows Connor in the gut. Sam shoots him. Riley and Connor run. Anna’s dad tells her to escape with Sam and co. He tells Sam to go to a house in Pennsylvania. They shoot Anna’s dad to injure him so he doesn’t look like an accomplice.
  • The guys check the house. They can’t find their files, so Riley must have grabbed them on his way out. Anna takes her mum’s journal before they leave.
  • Sam used straws like a snorkel to prevent the gas from knocking him out.
  • They steal a car. They tell Anna about the letter scars. Sam has R, R, O, and D; Nick has I and E; Trev has R, R, E, R; Cas has L and V. They don’t know what they mean. They also say that the experiment had something to do with gene manipulation. They guys are all connected and can tell what they’re feeling, they have better instincts, and they feel the need to protect each other.
  • They reach the house in Pennsylvania. It’s trashed. Anna sees a painting of a tree, just like Sam’s tattoo. They find a note behind it, and it’s written in Sura’s – Anna’s mum – handwriting. It’s addressed to Sam. A cop shows up, and Nick tries to beat him with a metal bin but Anna tells him to stop and he does. They prepare to leave. The cop reaches for Anna but Sam punches him. They grab a UV light before they go.
  • Sam pulls up at a hotel. In the bathroom, he discovers UV ink on his tattoo. It points to Rose Cemetery, Ohio. They drive there.
  • They find a headstone that says SAMUEL CAVAR. Cavar means “to dig”. They find a box with a key and paper inside. There’s an address. They drive to a house in Michigan and decide it’s safe.
  • Cas tests out his limits by doing flips and things. Anna finds supplies in the pantry. Over the next few days, Sam searches the house for clues.
  • Sam teaches Anna to shoot a gun.
  • Sam is the strongest of the four boys, Cas has the best motor skills, Nick has the best endurance *wink*, and Trev has photographic memory. Sam gets bad flashbacks, although his amnesia still hasn’t lifted.
  • Sam asks Anna about the drugs they were given at the lab. Anna knows nothing. They find girl’s clothing in one of the bedrooms. They also find a box under a false panel. It has passports and licenses belonging to Sam, and there’s also a photograph of Sam when he was younger with a girl who’s about Anna’s age.
  • Sam tells Trev to bag the guns because they’ll be leaving soon. They go into town to get food and clothes. Anna is trying on clothes when Sam tells her to let him into the dressing room. Someone’s looking for them. An attendant tells the agent that they’ve left. Anna and Sam leave the store, and Riley sees them. They run. Riley threatens to shoot Anna, then points the gun at Sam. Sam knocks him out and is about to shoot him when Anna tells him not to. He obeys. They get to the car, and agents grab Anna by the hair. Trev throws the bag of guns at the agents, and they fall. Anna and co. get away.
  • They go back to the house briefly. It’s clear. Nick, Sam, and Trev go looking for guns while Cas and Anna eat. Anna asks Cas if Sam likes her, but Cas refuses to answer.
  • They all go to see a guy called Tommy about some guns. Pitch tries to chat up Anna. A fight breaks out because Pitch has a girlfriend. Tommy calls Anna a whore, and Sam launches himself at him. Pitch’s girlfriend hits Anna. Nick tries to help but someone gets in the way. Anna and Debbie fight. Anna beats Debbie up. Anna and co. leave, their opponents all on the ground.
  • Cas goes to steal a new car. Sam asks Anna about the fight, and if she met with Riley and Connor outside of the lab. Anna says she hadn’t. Connor ordered Anna’s dad to let her into the lab, but why?
  • Nick is angry because he doesn’t like the fact that they all fought to protect Anna from Pitch and Tommy and Debbie. “Why the hell to we want to protect her so badly?” Nick wants to ditch Anna. Anna attacks Nick because she’s so angry and frustrated. Nick slams her against the wall, but doesn’t hurt her, because he can’t. All the guys feel that way.
  • Sam assures Anna that he won’t give her to Connor. He tells her that he’s always wanted to protect her.
  • Anna figures out the rest of Sam’s message. They’re Roman numerals, pointing out a phone number. Sam calls the number, and Sura picks up, saying she’s on her way. But she’s supposed to be dead. Sura arrives. She knows Sam already. She says that he and Dani came to her a little over five years ago. They had stolen something from the Branch, but Dani disappeared. Dani is the girl in Sam’s photo. She and Sam were together. Sura tells them that Anna is not her daughter, that she’s never even heard of Anna until now.
  • Sura tells Anna that she and Anna’s father divorced thirteen years ago. Sura used to work for the Branch as well. The Branch is funded by the government. They designed the boys to be soldiers. Sura tells Anna about Nick. He got involved with the Branch because he left home at sixteen. His mother had left him with his alcoholic father, and he had to find somewhere better. Sam ended up in the Branch because his mother gave him up.
  • Anna goes downstairs during the night and she and Sam end up kissing. It was all going so well until Sura comes running out of her room, telling them they need to grab their stuff because Connor has found them. Sam accuses Sura of telling Connor where they are. Sura promises it wasn’t her.
  • Sura asks Anna what her earliest memory is. Anna can’t remember the colour of her old room, or any smaller details. Sura tells Anna that these memories are fake and the Branch likely put them there. Sura gets shot.
  • Cas is shot. Anna, Sam, and Nick escape through the bedroom window. Trev has disappeared. They prepare to leave without them. Trev turns up with a car. He says he had been taking Sura’s dog for a walk when the agents had arrived.
  • Sam suggests that Riley deliberately let the guys escape the lab so they could follow them to find the thing that Sam stole from them. They leave to go to Port Cadia, where this thing is.
  • They stay in a motel. Anna redraws Sam’s tattoo, and they see that there are numbers – two-six-four-four. The scene gets very tense, and then Trev and Nick arrive back with food. Nick is annoyed with Sam for getting distracted. Sam hits Nick. They fight, and Nick is about to hit Sam with a bottle but Anna tells him to stop. Sam walks out. Anna follows.
  • Anna asks Sam if he thinks that Sura set them up. They’re not sure. Sam and Anna start to work out what the letter scars mean. Since Sura said she was only vaguely familiar with Trev, Anna suggests that Trev’s scars were added later as a decoy. Nick’s, Cas’, and Sam’s scars spell out Old River. 2644 Old River is an address of some sort. Anna looks it up, but only finds Old Brook Road. That could be it.
  • Old Brook Road is the site of the town’s biggest unsolved murders. The O’Brien family lived there. There were two daughters. The oldest daughter ran off. A year later, the parents were found dead, and the youngest daughter disappeared. The girls’ names were Dani and Anna O’Brien.
  • Anna and Sam go to Old Brook Road. They go into the house. Anna finds a photo of her from when she was ten. Sam experiences a flashback while he’s in the house. They go outside and see a bunch of birch trees. They walk further away from the house, towards a farm, and Anna thinks to look at the shadows rather than the trees themselves. They find the spot where they think the stolen thing is hidden. They find a metal safe.
  • There’s a lot of logs and graphs and blood results and things. It shows that Trev was part of a different group. The notes talk of a commander. It says that the Branch released three units, and Sam became agitated and aggressive. He would only listen to Dani. There’s also a list of successful missions that the guys had been sent on.
  • Sam hears something. He tells Anna to run. It’s Trev, who is pointing a gun at Sam. He’s been working undercover for the Branch. He alerted the Branch about the house in Michigan. Riley shows up. Trev grabs Anna.
  • Anna realises that she’s the commander that the notes were talking about. She’s the key to Operation ALPHA. That’s why the boys listen to her without fail, and why they have to protect her. Riley says that they chose Anna because Dani died, and Dani was the only one that Sam had listened to.
  • Anna, Nick, and Sam fight back. Sam’s gun jams. Riley shoots at Sam with a tranq gun. Anna tries to help, but Nick pulls her away. They grab the evidence. Nick gets shot in the arm. They hide in a hole in a collapsed barn. Nick loses consciousness. Anna calls her dad and asks for help. He says he’ll be there in six hours.
  • Anna’s dad arrives and drives them to a drug store. He fixes Nick’s arm. Anna’s dad tells Anna that he took on the project because he had been fighting with Sura, and he wasn’t sure what the project entailed. He says that Anna had treatments twice a month in her food. He didn’t know about Trev working for the Branch. He did know, however, that Sam was planning an escape. He was going to let them go. He says that Sam needs suppressants to stop the flashbacks from getting worse.
  • Nick wakes up and Anna says she has a plan to save Sam. Nick is in.
  • Anna and Nick go to a Branch building with Anna’s father, who gets them inside. Arthur asks to see Connor, but a man knocks both Anna and Nick out first. They’re put in cells. Riley is there when they wake up. Riley asks if they had set up a media spread of the evidence, Anna says she did. Anna tells Riley to take her to the boys, or she won’t tell him anything. Riley tells her to forget it, that he’ll wipe her memories and make Arthur tell him. Anna throws a sheet over Riley and hits him over the head with a glass. She kicks him in the knee, grabs his gun, and then makes a guard tell her where the boys are.

how did it end?

Anna finds them. Cas is alive. Sam tells Anna the code to the cells and she opens them. Connor arrives and shoots Sam. Connor refuses to let them go, especially since Sam is worth so much money. Arthur shows up and tells Connor about the media spread they have planned. Connor offers to let them go if he wipes their memories. Anna refuses. Sam says he’ll stay if they let everyone else go.

Anna stumbles towards Riley and pretends to be weak. She kicks his bad knee again and gets her gun out. She shoots one of the guards. Nick and Cas start to fight back. Connor points a gun at Sam’s head. Sam tells Anna to do what Connor says. Anna says she’s not leaving. Connor shoots at Anna, but her dad dives in front of her. He lands on top of Anna, and gives her a gun. Anna shoots Connor. Sam is relieved, and he actually smiles. “I think he’s delirious.”

Nick carries Sam out, and Cas carries Arthur. They come across Trev, and Nick attacks him. Trev tells them that Riley is waiting in the lobby for them with more men. Trev says he’s on no one’s side, but he’s going to help them get out. He shows them a door and a getaway car. They drive away, leaving Trev and the Branch behind.

They take Arthur to hospital, and leave him there. They are now free.

Anna goes to see her parents’ grave in Port Cadia. Sam says they can find a place to settle for a while. Anna asks if she’s a liability, Sam assures her that she’s not. The control elements are apparently not permanent.

This is a full plot summary of what happened in Altered by Jennifer Rush. Check out our recap list for more recaps. If you can’t find what you need, you can request a recap from us!


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  • Emily says:

    So I was thinking at night when I was trying to go to sleep, and all of a sudden this book popped into my head. I could not think of the title or anything. I did remember one event happening in the book though:
    A girl and a boy are running away and they split up in a cornfield. The girl gets lost, but finds a house. She goes up to the house and knocks on the door and asks an old lady for help. The lady takes her inside and there is rotten meat hanging from the ceiling.
    Ever since I remembered that book it’s been seriously bothering me that I don’t know the title. I’ve looked at all the books I’ve checked out in the last school year and the year before, but nothing seems to ring a bell. If you possibly know the title to this book and you could tell me, that would be fantastic!! Thank you!

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