Aubrey Coletti; Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 19th 2011 (first published June 4th 2011); Pub by Escape Artist Press
When Toni, Joseph and Charlie arrive at their new boarding school, they are glad to leave their families — and respective problems — behind. Isolated as boarders, they meet a handsome senior with a personality like iced snake’s blood, teachers with a penchant for physical punishment, and four other outcasts who reveal that their being brought to the Academy wasn’t random at all. When the arrivals discover that their new school is engaged in “behavior modification” through electric shocks, isolation, restraints, and an ever-evolving set of methods to “fix” them, they declare war on their Academy. During their campaign of sabotage, they fight, hate, scorn, love, and begin to uncover the reasons why they were brought to the school. But as their war against the school escalates beyond their control, will they become the very things the Academy believes they are: dangerous, delinquent — and mad?
– Goodreads on Altered
Jesus Christ!! This book had me gritting my teeth so bad, I think I ruined my dental work!
Ok, so first thing I’m gonna say is, these are the most believable YA characters I’ve read in a while, perhaps a long while. They’re slightly on edge, and gutsy, and rash at times, and tumultuous, and tons of fun. They feel solid, because they feel irrevocably real. I will make a very mean comment and say perhaps it comes easy to Aubrey Coletti to write such teen characters, since she worked on this for 3 years, starting when she was 15. Not to say one can’t write strong characters of other ages then they themselves are, but I do believe when you’re writing teen characters, it helps to be a teen. Don’t throw things at me, I’m just saying!!
Plus, it feels like the characters have the right mind-frame. They act their age, in conflict, in love interests, in friendship.
Now, the bit that had me chewing through my dental work was the plot. Man, the plot!! I thought I was gonna have a heart attack a few times, for various reasons. One, and the most personal, is it reminded me a lot of my high-school. Now, if you’ve read the book, you may find my comment odd, so I’ll explain; it was strict, very strict, very very strict, very demanding, extremely exhausting and emotionally draining, and there were a lot of brainiacs that could breeze through inhumanly complicated things that you worked five shades of your butt off to barely manage. They weren’t telekinetic, or psychic, or pyrokinetic, but they seemed supernaturally smart. And although our suspicions were never proven right, we often speculated there’s some dark torture chamber somewhere in that huge, fort-like building, that had bars on all windows and closed gates during school hours. *shudders* It was that sort of thing that you dread with every fiber of your being while you go through it, but appreciate its value and impact and treasure it when it’s over. Plus it made really good friends out of your classmates, because nothing unites teens like a common enemy, and boy did we feel under attack
So the mood of the book put me right back in that state of mind. It was like a book-long flashback, and it was terrifying. Because on top of my real experiences, this world was built, with these poor kids, tortured basically, and it freaked the hell out of me. So much so, that I would have put the book down, were it not for these incredibly awesome characters. So, I believe, this book must be a certain hit with YA readers, and young adults; it’s fast paced, edgy, intense, fun, challenging, intriguing…I mean, it has it all!
I had an ominous feeling about where the story was going, but I thought all that tension would be resolved in a positive way. It wasn’t, really. I found the ending to be sort of crushing, sort of desolating, therefore sort of gorgeous. But it’s not the end-end, because this is going to be a series, so there’ll be a sequel, or two or three.
I loved the writing, because it had a captivating rhythm to it. It was fresh, young, colorful, with every character having its own unique and charming voice. The dialogues were very fun, and well made, and that made for a very dynamic read. The descriptive side was less of a focus, and that might prove maybe a bit confusing at times. Especially in very tense scenes, I kept trying to look for some “stage directions” that would build a clear picture of the room, or building, or gates involved. Now this is a matter of taste, some readers like to be given lavish, or more succinct descriptions, and some prefer to have as little of them as possible, possibly none at all. True, descriptions slow down the pace of the read, they give your adrenalin levels time to decrease, they involve your rational, contemplative side.
This is more like a 3,5 really, but I just loved the characters so much, I’m making it a 4 butterflies. What would have made it a home run for me? More descriptive passages. Not a bunch of it, but enough to give me a clear mental picture. I would have liked the slightly slower pace that would have given the read, as well. I’m feeling too old for these kinds of adrenalin levels…
There’s a lot of action, some love side notes. It gives a real perspective over young adults, and young adult behavior; there’s a love story going on, but as I’ve said, it’s more of side note, a tangent, as the focus doesn’t rest on one main character, but on a group of them.
Overall, I say give it a try. It has that something, that je ne sais quoi, that makes for a very fun and energetic YA read.
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