Author: Susanne Winnacker
Publisher: Hachette Children’s Books.
Publication Date: 2nd January 2014
Series/Standalone: Book 1, Variants series.
Source: Review ecopy via Netgalley
Also by this author: The Other Life
Goodreads Description: Tessa is a Variant with extraordinary abilities. She could be a hero, but all she wants to do is fall in love …
Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she’s spent the last two years with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. There she trains with other Variants, such as long-term crush Alec, who each have their own extraordinary ability.
When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: she must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again. Tessa hates everything about being an impostor – the stress, the danger, the deceit – but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she’d do anything to keep.
Amid action, suspense, and a ticking clock, this super-human comes to a very human conclusion: even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself.
Review: Impostor was described to me as Veronica Mars meets X-Men and as a fan of both series my interest was definitely piqued.
Tessa seems a perfectly ordinary teenager at first glance, with close friends and that all too important boy drama, but she’s not. She’s a Variant. If she absorbs someone’s DNA she can change her appearance and mimic them. Recruited by a secret FBI group, Tessa spends her time training with other Variants, including the source of the aforementioned boy drama, Alec. However when it becomes apparent there may be a serial killer in Oregon, Tessa is pulled out of training and into a mission. She has to imitate Madison, not only to the public but to Madison’s own family and find her killer while pretending to be a normal teenager.
I thought Tessa was a really interesting character. While at first I wasn’t entirely sure about her character and how well I would get on with the book, as it developed I was reassured. Tessa’s a somewhat insecure person and her ability doesn’t help with this. She felt like a real teenager, despite the paranormal element, and I really liked seeing that. Her desire to fit in and have a family like Madison’s was well written as was the subsequent difficulty in knowing that she wasn’t Madison. The lines between Tessa and Madison blur for Tessa in Impostor and I thought this was a good take on the extraordinary teenager storyline. Tessa’s own identity and the effect her ability has on this was a strong strand of the novel; particularly her desire in a way to be Madison and have her loving family in comparison to her own.
The romantic angle between Tessa and Alec didn’t always work for me. I thought Tessa’s crush on him felt real, but I wasn’t entirely certain of how Alec felt and how genuinely – I did think at one stage that the person Tessa might end the novel liking would be different. That said, I did like a fair amount of the scenes between Alec and Tessa.
The mystery itself was quite fast-paced and offered several twists. I’m one of those people who likes to anticipate the twist before it happens so I did have a very strong inkling of who the killer was before it was revealed, however there are several red herrings. On this note, I thought it interesting that Winnacker did not make Madison some perfect, cardboard cut-out of a teenager. She was complicated, flawed and her own secrets that Tessa had to try and navigate and decide if they were relevant to the case or not.
Overall Impostor was a solid and fun read with a great concept. I think fans of Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ The Naturals in particular, along with fans of YA crime and thrillers, will enjoy Impostor. I would definitely keep an eye out for the next book in this series myself.
I received a free ecopy from Hachette Children’s Books via Netgalley for reviewing purposes. My review is honest and its tone and content unaffected by the means in which I received the book.