Friday, October 25, 2013

Me on Altered

Title: Altered
Author: Gennifer Albin
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux (Macmillan imprint)

After a daring escape to Earth from Arras, Adelice 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.

Altered is a return to an extremely unique world where different genres like fantasy, dystopia, and science fiction are woven together. It is in this world that a young girl finds herself after a thrilling escape, a girl who has a powerful gift that may make her the only one who can save Earth from Arras and the Guild. But secrets abound, both in Arras and on Earth, secrets that so many have worked so hard to keep hidden, and Adelice will have to make the most difficult decision of her young life. So far.

This is what's next for Adelice, but what will she do now in this world so unlike what she's been taught to expect? Who will she trust? What will she learn? So many questions to answer, so many secrets to uncover. But will she still take a stand against Arras once all has been revealed? All her life she was told to hide her talent, and now that she can reveal them, now that she can take down the Guild, will she?

Adelice is powerful in her own way, but Earth is different than Arras. Earth is really there, it's not the construct that Arras is. The threads are still there for her to see, to manipulate, to weave and re-work, but they feel different. Everything is different. There are more to her gifts than she knows. But not others, not those who hold the secret her parents never told her.

Perhaps I love the world-building so much because it is actual world-building. Arras is the crafted and spun world that hangs over the barren, desolate wasteland that Earth has become, but it's not just one world on top of another. It's one world taking from another, one world controlling another. I also enjoyed the contrasts between the two worlds, the advanced technology at odds with the subtle old world charm, style, fashion, and mannerisms, both in Crewel and in Altered. Everything has been so expertly crafted by the author.

When it comes to Adelice's personal life, her romantic life, she appears to be at a crossroads of sorts with Jost and with Erik. Each brother gives her different things, supports her in different ways, and each make her cautious. Cautious at what to do, what to say, how to act. She wants with Jost, but can he afford to give right now? Can she? As much as I was annoyed at the growing separation between them, and with the ways Erik grew closer to her, I had to remind myself that it had to happen. There is always a reason for separations, and in this situation, with time working against them in impossible ways, it's needed. Adelice needs to grow, needs to learn, needs to train to understand her abilities. Of course, being apart from Jost leaves her alone with Erik, who can rarely be trusted. As much as I don't like love triangles, as overused as they are, this is the best one I've come across. She needs both and she wants both, for important reasons and for different reasons. And so she's genuinely torn between the two.

How unique this book and its world are, both rich with technology and built on greed and corruption. The closer I got to the end, the more surprised I was at what I was reading and the more I knew I would dread the wait for the last book.

(I received an advance copy of this title from Raincoast Books.)

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