Review of Altered by Gennifer Albin

Review of Altered by Gennifer Albin

To be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux BYR on October 29, 2013

Source: borrowed an ARC through Around the World ARC tours.

WARNING: The book blurb below and my review contain some plot spoilers for Crewel, book one in this series. 

Plot Summary for Altered by Gennifer Albin

After a daring escape to Earth from Arras, sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys thought she would finally be in control of her own destiny. She would be free to be true to herself and to her heart—to love Jost, the boy the Guild said she could not have. 

But Earth is not abandoned, as she’d always been taught it was. It’s inhabited with survivors waging a war against Arras. The world that was supposed to offer a new beginning is still tangled up in the past. Now Adelice is being called upon to harness her phenomenal power and break Earth from the grip of the Guild. 

But even as she uncovers the truth about her parents and her former life, she discovers that nothing on Earth is as it seems either. 

Everyone has secrets, especially those she loves most. What’s more, those secrets are driving Adelice and Jost away from each other, and Adelice into his brother Erik’s waiting arms. Now torn between two brothers and two worlds, Adelice must decide what—and who--she’s fighting for, before it’s too late.

Review of Altered by Gennifer Albin

I really enjoyed Crewel, book one in this series. Crewel took place in Arras, a place where the all-male Guild held all the political power while female Spinsters had the ability to weave time and matter. 

Crewel had a cool dystopian-meets-fairy-tale-slash-fantasy vibe, a gripping plot, and yes, a love triangle. The book ended with an intriguing plot twist that made me curious about where the series was headed, so I started Altered with high expectations and a lot of excitement.

To me, reading Altered like starting a completely different series. As the blurb above indicates, the setting of the story has changed, along with most of the characters from the first book. Many characters appear and then inexplicably disappear, as do a few old faces from Crewel

There's a reclusive rich dude villain called Kincaid, some girl in leather pants, and a band of soulless zombie-like creatures called "Remnants." All this seemed promising at first, but Leather Pants Girl vanished for most of the book and neither Kincaid nor the Remnants amounted to much in the mayhem and menace department.

While I do think that second and third books in series should contain new revelations, Altered offered up completely new terminology and information. Instead of Spinsters and the Guild, we now have Sunrunners and Tailors and an Agenda. For me, this information didn't seem well-connected to the first book, and I became hopelessly confused.  

Did you ever watch the TV show LOST?  Some of the ideas and plot developments in Altered began to remind me of the show -- the time manipulation, the Dharma Initiative in LOST and the Cypress Project in Altered, the rich guy villain Kincaid, and the excruciating love triangle (more on that later.) As in the show, some of these aspects of Altered were and a little … out-there. 

As a result, a lot of Altered didn't really make sense to me, including a very odd fact about Adelice's family that was explained by the fact that time on Arras is like dog years or something.

Finally, I have to mention Altered's love triangle. I wasn't crazy about the whole Adelice-Jost-Erik dynamic in the first book, and I was even less crazy about it here. In Altered, Adelice bounces around like a ping pong ball between the two guys, which was frustrating and disappointing. By the end of the book, it seemed like she had finally made up her mind, but not before losing a great deal of my respect.

I finished Altered feeling a little dejected that the elements I loved in Crewel seemed to have vanished. I was such a huge fan of Crewel that I will read book three in the series in the hope that the world of Crewel and the world of Altered somehow get merged together in a way that makes sense to me.