by Rush, Jennifer

Seventeen-year-old Anna finds herself on the run from her father's enigmatic Branch, along with the four teen boys the Branch had been experimenting on, as they try to make sense of erased memories, secret identities, and genetic alteration.

Jennifer Rush is the author of Devils & Thieves and the Altered Saga. She currently lives in Michigan with her family, where the winters make her grumpy and the summers make her forget the winters. When not writing, she can be found curled up with a good book or out wandering, either by foot or by car. She dreams of seeing the world someday (as long as it's not winter).

Anna lives with four boys who are not her brothers-Nick, the brooding bad boy; Trev, the thoughtful intellectual; Cas, the carefree jock; and Sam, their mysterious leader. What sounds like a lighthearted shojo manga in novel form is actually a rapid-fire thriller as Sam leads the escape from the farmhouse, where all four genetically altered boys were imprisoned in the basement. The boys, who don't remember anything about their lives before they were imprisoned, take Anna hostage as insurance, and slowly, Anna and the boys begin to piece together the true nature of their relationship. This exciting debut novel does not break any new ground, but it provides enough twists and turns to keep readers engaged and wondering if there will be a next volume. Fans of the Hunger Games and Maze Runner series seeking more dystopian titles would likely enjoy this new adventure. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Ignore the shaky start-within minutes, this medical-engineering thriller will have readers glued to their seats. In the farmhouse upstairs, Anna and her widower dad lead a quiet life. Downstairs, the four surgically altered boys whom Anna has tended and her dad has studied for five years live in comfortable, isolated cells. Home-schooled Anna is isolated, too, her mother's treasured, annotated cookbook their only connection. Though Anna's attached to the boys, even sullen Nick, Sam is the one she sneaks down to see at night. She knows the boys are human lab rats in a project run by the Branch, a private company funded by the government, and dreams of freeing them, but it's Sam who masterminds their escape when Branch agents show up to end the project. Urged by her dad, the boys take Anna with them. With no memory of life before the farmhouse and few clues to guide them to safety, their quest to understand what has happened to them yields fewer answers than questions, especially for Anna, whose own memories increasingly appear suspect. In the desperate race to find answers before the Branch agents find them, Anna clings to what she knows is true: her love for Sam. A surfeit of casual violence detracts from the ending, but this debut's strengths-pacing and plot twists, especially-outweigh the deficits. Riveting. (Science fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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