Saturday, March 29, 2014

Erased by Jennifer Rush

Erased picks up where Altered left off  with Anna, Sam, Cas and Nick now living in a house near Millerton, Michigan. Anna O'Brien is certain her sister Dani is dead, but is unsure about whether the Branch killed their parents and this is something she needs to find out. After a grocery trip, Nick decides he needs some space and disappears for several days, likely to spend some time with the cashier at the grocery store.

When Nick returns two days later, he tells everyone that the girl he spent time with told him that someone came into the grocery store asking about Anna. Shocked, Anna needs to know if this woman is her sister Dani, whom she was told was dead. Anna, accompanied by Sam, returns to the store and manages to talk the cashier into letting them watch the security video. They confirm that it was Anna's sister, Dani, who came to the store, but also learn that Dani has been taken again by the Branch who were waiting for her in a nearby alley.

The group decides to abandon their house and using a prepaid cell phone, Anna contacts Trev, the other member of their lab group who lived with them in the farmhouse and who was a double agent. Trev had given Anna a flash drive containing a file with a phone contact which Anna now makes us of. Trev tells Anna to meet him in Hart, Michigan where he will provide information on Dani's whereabouts. At the meeting Trev leads Anna and the boys to believe that Dani is being held at another Branch lab known as Delta.

Nick, Anna, Cas and Sam break into Delta lab and after a deadly battle with Branch agents, rescue Dani and liberate three boys, Greg, Jimmy and Matt. Dani and Anna reconnect but Anna feels suspicious of Dani. Since Dani was one of the first candidates in the Branch's genetic alteration program, along with Sam, Nick and Cas, they do not know if she was turned into an assassin as well. Not only that but Dani seems surprisingly ambivalent about Anna being with Sam, her boyfriend before she disappeared.

They flee to a motel where the new boys and Dani are checked for tracking devices. They decide to send the new boys on their own way but when Dani says something, it triggers them into attacking Sam, Nick and Cas. Dani tries to convince Anna to flee with her but she insists on helping her friends fight. They manage to disable Jimmy and Matt, and with the odds against him, Greg flees. Dani believes they were brainwashed and programmed into attacking.

The group of friends find an empty house to regroup and determine their next course of action. Concerned that Cas and Sam may have also been reprogrammed with the new alteration, they decide to separate into two groups; Nick and Anna and Cas, Sam and Dani. Anna learns that Dani has seen their Uncle William, who may be their only surviving relative. Dani tells her that Uncle William has been tracking the Branch for years and is trying to bring them down. She also tells Anna that he knows what happened that night five years ago when their parents died because he was there. Based on this, Anna tells Dani to contact William and arrange a meeting.

The two groups go their separate ways but Anna is not happy being paired with Nick as their relationship is strained at the best of times.  Anna decides that she wants to return to Port Cadia to locate her Uncle William. Although Nick is not pleased with this he agrees to accompany her. On the way to Port Cadia however, Nick and Anna have yet another encounter with Branch agents who attempt to capture them. Barely escaping the agents, Nick and Anna continue on their way to Port Cadia. Anna is determined to find out about her family, and how and why she ended up in the Branch. But can they trust Uncle William, after everyone they know seems to be entangled in the Branch.

Erased is certainly filled with numerous action scenes and plenty of violence, to the point that it almost seems overdone. For example, picking up a railway tie with one hand and hitting someone over the head with it is no small feat, especially for a woman who's been shot in the leg. There are many plot twists throughout the novel to move the storyline along and which work to hold the reader's interest. Woven into the action is the romance between Sam and Anna, but also a hint of a possible relationship between Anna and Nick too. Almost all of Anna's flashback memories involve Nick and although in the present he seems angry and distant, Anna senses that Nick cares for her.

The most dominant theme is this novel is that of identity as Anna and the four boys are all struggling to regain their identities, to remember who they were and to escape from the hold the Branch has on them.

There will be a third novel in the Altered series despite the fact that Rush seems to have wrapped up the situation with the Branch quite neatly. However, Riley, the agent who was second in command has not been accounted for and perhaps he will play a big part in the third novel.

Book Details:
Erased by Jennifer Rush
New York: Little, Brown and Company   2014
275 pp.

No comments: