Rating 3 out of 5
The Amber Torch is the first book in The Altered Elite series. Jo is concerned about a rising number of deaths that have been happening around her town. The deaths are strange in that the person seems to have burned up from the inside and there doesn't appear to be any connection between the victims. On top of all this Jo finds herself experiencing "episodes" where her body becomes extremely hot and she feels the need to burn off energy immediately. She soon finds that her "episodes" are connected to her hormones, after a death that hits closer to home. She works with Mark (her love interest) to uncover what is causing these changes and soon finds more than she bargained for. Soon she uncovers two secret organizations and a genetic mutation (caused by a meteorite) may play a role. Oh and she is somehow important to everything!
I have to say that the first half of this novel read completely different than the second half. I wish that more of the end was in the beginning. Halfway through the novel becomes a super quick read but its getting through all the other things, which don't seem extremely necessary to the overlying plot, that I struggled with. Don't get me wrong the book is well written with strong characters (though I do hold a strong dislike for Jo, the main character) so I think that's why I wanted the novel to get to the other stuff so badly so that the plot was able to shift. As a first novel in the series this book does an excellent job of creating the cast of characters and depicting the world that it takes place in. It answers just enough questions that you can feel satisfied with the ending, but you will walk away wanting to know what happens next.
I think that the author does a good job of setting up the main plot of the series in this book but I really wish that she had spent a little more time giving us some of that information so that it didn't all feel crammed into the last 50 pages or so. I think it was interesting that the genetic mutation manifests in puberty and the powers people have are displayed during hormonal fluctuations, because lets be fair puberty is an emotional ride and now you have to learn to control powers too! I got some Divergent and Hunger Games vibes from this one with the love triangles and the female character who is somehow important to the outcome of the world. The two secret organizations, one wanting to destroy those who are special and the other wanting to protect them, also gave off these vibes. Overall it was a nice book and I would be willing to continue the series to see how things play out.