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Monday
Aug262013

Review: Erased by Jennifer Rush

Erased
Jennifer Rush

Little, Brown Young Readers
I received an ARC through the Around the World ARC tour in return for a review.
Releases January 7, 2014
275 pages
YA / SciFi / Action

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They thought they had escaped. They were wrong.

After fleeing the Branch with Sam, Cas, and Nick, Anna is trying to make sense of the memories resurfacing from her old life. At the same time, she's learning how to survive in hiding, following Sam's rules: Don't draw attention to yourself. Always carry a weapon. Know your surroundings. Watch your back.

Then a figure from Anna's childhood reappears. Is it a Branch setup, or could it be the reunion Anna has hoped for? Uncertain of where her loyalties lie, Anna must fight to learn the truth -- before she is betrayed again. Ultimately, the answers hinge on one question: What was the real reason her memories were erased?

Jennifer Rush delivers a thrilling sequel to Altered in a novel packed with mysteries, lies, and surprises that are sure to keep readers guessing until the last age is turned.

Last year Altered was one of my top 10 reads of the year. It was everything I wanted in a debut book – a story that felt complete while leaving strands of storyline open for future books, a subtly strong female character with viewable growth, a nice if standoffish male love interest who is a little lost in the middle of everyday life, and mysterious adventure. I wasn’t sure how Rush could build on the success of the first book without either rehashing the Altered or losing some of the magic along the way. While Erased is a little more complicated, a little more convoluted, it still has that balance of excitement and adventure with emotionally complex bombshells that made the first book so difficult to put down.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOR ALTERED AHEAD

Erased opens soon after the end of Altered with Anna and her three genetically altered super soldier friends hiding in a secluded cabin near a small town. They are a man short after the last minute betrayal of Trev and are increasingly paranoid as they expect the company chasing them down to spot them at any moment. When Anna’s dead sister shows up on some camera footage in the nearby town, everything falls apart. The sister is kidnapped by the company and a daring rescue must be attempted. Conspiracies creep around every corner and everyone’s loyalties are questioned. The tension between Anna and the grumpy Nick, who is the only one who can’t break his genetically altered need to protect her, are stuck on the run together as flashbacks of their erased memories start flooding their memories and more questions are asked than answered.

I read Erased in one three-hour sitting, but I had a harder time getting into this book than the first. It’s missing that budding awkward romance between Anna and Sam, instead replaced with the complications of Anna’s sister – and Sam’s ex-girlfriend he only vaguely remembers – coming back from the dead. The cast of characters are often split with Anna and grouchy pants Nick sharing most of the screen time, and with each new flashback, Nick seems to hate Anna and his need to protect her more and more.

But what probably kept me from diving headfirst into the story was the obviousness of the bad guys. If it was meant to be subtle that certain characters weren’t what they seemed, it wasn’t executed very well. There were no real surprises in this one except for the final reveal that pieced all of Anna’s broken memories together, but that just left me feeling confused and a little lost. Perhaps I missed something, but the history that comes to light didn’t make much sense to me in the larger frame of the entire universe.

Even without the chemistry between Anna and Sam or the lack of Cas and Trev or the obvious twists, I still enjoyed the continuing adventure of Anna figuring out who she is and trying to piece together a life of her own instead of one dictated by the company. Despite making what I thought were some obviously stupid choices, Anna remained a good female character with the occasional dive into insecurity land in regard to Sam. The boys take a backseat to the family history between Anna and her sister, which might have taken away some of the magic found in Altered but overall this was a pretty solid second adventure. I hope that the next volume can bring back the chemistry between Anna and her super soldier boys that made the first book so enjoyable and not get as bogged down in backstory that just seems overly complicated for the sake of being complicated.

 

I received an advanced copy of this book through the Around the World ARC Tour in return for an honest review.

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