Altered Themes


Deception saturates every twist, turn, and corner of the plot. From the fact that Dante turns out to be Adelice’s father, to Kincaid’s desire to destroy indiscriminately, to Erik’s ability to alter, Adelice is confronted with and surrounded by people who apparently want to help her, but nonetheless do not actually reveal themselves or their intentions completely. Even at the end of the novel on Alcatraz Island, when Valery reveals herself to be the agent concerting every single one of Adelice’s moves on Earth, Adelice finds the number of people she can trust ever-decreasing.


The collective duty demanded by the Guild in the first book becomes more individualized in Altered. Jost’s desire to retrieve and protect his daughter Sebrina becomes much more intense, and he goes so far as to break his relationship between Adelice because of it. On the other hand, Adelice struggles between duty towards her sister Amie and the rest of humanity. Also implicit in the plot is how the Kairos Agenda and Dante represent the manifestation of a duty to free mankind from the hold of the Guild. These duties all converge towards the end: Adelice and Jost have an unspoken understanding that Adelice will rescue Sebrina when she returns to Arras. Adelice also sees those such as Jax, Falon, and Dante fighting for her and for humanity.


Rebellion expresses itself on two levels: the individual (Adelice) and the collective (the Kairos Agenda). As Adelice becomes more confident in her abilities, even though she at times is very unclear about her goals and the people around her, she acts in ways that she would have resisted when she was in the Coventry. She is defiant and much more resolute in her decisions, rebelling against the sometimes good-willed advice of Dante. But it is her rebellious nature that forces Dante’s hand, as he eventually reveals to her the Kairos Agenda. The Kairos Agenda is a larger manifest rebellion – it has limited resources and an unclear schematic of how to achieve its goals, but nonetheless uses what it has prudently. Its spies in Arras, its ability to remain undetected, and its masterful manipulation of Kincaid prove that its intentions are not simply to resist but rather to build a better world for humanity.


Adelice is torn between two brothers in a love triangle, and attempts throughout the book not only to keep her relationship with them strong, but also to mend the relationship between them. When Jost returns from his mission, the back and forth between him and Adelice is overwhelming for Adelice. She first feels close to Jost, but then senses a wall between herself and him. Her growing friendship with Erik induces guilt, with all the assumptions that Jost makes and the distrust he expresses. It all consumes and overrides the happiness that she once felt with Jost. Eventually she feels her shame shift to indignation.


In contrast to their situation when they were on Arras, Adeline and her friend are mobile and able to make their own decisions on Earth. Being on Earth gives them a greater degree of agency in their own decisions, but it also creates more uncertainty. Indeed, this is the trade-off that comes with more freedom: because things are not decided for the characters, they must face a great deal of uncertainty. This includes especially their hesitation to trust Dante and Kincaid – Dante ends up being a valuable investment, but Kincaid does not.


As the history of Arras and Earth unfolds, the characters come to realize that the world they live is the result of human conflict. That conflict has not ended, despite the Guild’s sincerest efforts to quell any resistance and maintain peace in Arras. The revelatory nature of the plot also shows a convergence of interests between multiple characters: Adelice, Dante, and the Kairos Agenda all want to liberate and give humanity the ability to make choices. Kincaid and Cormac, on the other hand, want more control and less freedom. The juxtaposition of these party interests indicates that conflict lies at the heart of the plot’s message, and that war has ostensibly been the only way humans have conceived of solving the problem of freedom.


Everything that Adelice, Jost, Erik, and Dante do is motivated by the desire to preserve and protect familial interests. In particular Dante tries incredibly hard to make up and get closer to Adelice for the mistakes he made – particularly leaving Adelice’s mother at a particularly vulnerable time (she was pregnant with Adelice). At multiple points Dante’s fatherly instincts come out, notably when he tells Adelice to stay away from Erik because Erik is a Tailor who worked for the Guild. Adelice takes Erik’s side, citing Dante’s hypocrisy about keeping secrets. Nonetheless, Dante is devoted to protecting and serving Adelice. Jost too becomes more intensely devoted to finding a way to meet his daughter again.