Sunday, June 30, 2013

Book Review: Impostor by Susanne Winnacker

Title: Impostor
Series: Variants #1
Author: Susanne Winnacker
Pages: 274
Pub Date: May 28, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin Group USA
Book Source: Sent to me by the publisher
My Rating: 5 of 5 stars


Two years ago, Tessa left her not-so-happy family life to live and work within an organization called the “Forces with Extraordinary Abilities” (or, FEA).

The FEA is a cloak-and-dagger branch of the FBI. Those within the FEA have special abilities and are called “Variants”. Tessa absorbs the DNA of anyone she comes into physical contact with and, from that moment on, can morph into them at will—the perfect impersonator.

Tessa's ability is put to the test when she's called in to help catch a killer.
“Yesterday the killer tried to strike again.” Major said
“Yes, tried. [...] She sustained severe brain damage and was placed in an artificial coma. That's where it gets interesting.”


“The doctors give her a few days to live, at most. Once she's dead, Tessa, you'll take her place.”
And so begins Tessa's dangerous and complicated mission to become Madison and bring a killer to justice.

- - -

Impostor was amazing! :) I honestly don't even know where to begin!


Let's see... characters! The book is told in first-person by Tessa. Although supernatural, Tessa is very relatable. Right alongside her anxiety over the mission she is trying to complete, she also has the same worries as most teens. Her family didn't care enough about her; sent her away to live with the FEA. She stresses about fitting in and being liked. She has a crush on a guy who also works at the FEA. Said guy (his name is Alec) has a girlfriend (Kate) who definitely has snobbish tendencies and is way too hot for her own good. On the positive side, Tessa has a best friend (Holly) to help her cope with the daily angst of being a teenager. Reading from her POV was very enjoyable, and I can't wait for more of this series to get to know her even better!

Alec is the main love interest. He's been with Kate for some time, but says and does things to confuse Tessa. This only intensifies when they both leave on their mission to help find the serial killer in Oregon. Alec is overprotective, he kisses her, practically has sex with her even, and just overall acts like he wants her as more than a friend. It becomes clear early on that Major has some sort of hold over Alec and doesn't want him with Tessa (for reasons not yet revealed), so there ends up being a lot of back and forth, will they-won't they, etc.

Another romantic interest ends up being Madison's brother Devon. Almost from the get-go, Tessa notices his good looks and likes his personality. She has to keep herself in check upon remembering she's his sister at the moment. Tessa's attraction to Devon is very very minimally played on, but I expect to see more of it in future installments. There was just enough hint to make you think something could be there. Besides, Alec is taken and he's sort of a butt for being so darn confusing. ;)

But overall, the romance is nice. It's not really the focal point, but it's pretty prominent. Lots of steamy scenes (but not too steamy!) and lots of angst.

The superpower element is very interesting! We are told early on that the concept of Variants isn't something completely understood by the FEA or anyone else involved with Variants. I imagine this will be embellished upon more in future installments. This is the first book in the series and we were able to get a feel for what Variants can do and what the FEA is all about. I think the technicalities of Variations will come later on. But, regardless of this fact, I loved the supernatural element in this book. As other readers have said, it is very X-Men like, and I love that. There is a wide variety of Variations described in the book, such as telekinesis, weather control, invisibility, healing, increased strength & speed, mind-reading, and of course, shapeshifting/mimicking. I can't wait to see more of these guys & gals in action!

The mystery element of the story is intriguing and kept me on my toes. I did not guess the killer (which surprises me, because I am usually great at that sort of thing, lol). The author did a superb job of keeping me guessing. This is the second YA mystery book I've read this month that absolutely floored me. One moment I thought person #1, and the next, person #2, #3, #4... there were quite a few suspects to choose from! The plot was paced out very nicely and clues given in all the right places, at all the right times. The reveal of the killer was a surprise and quite intense and explosive. I applaud Susanne Winnacker for her mystery-making skills.

The last thing I want to highlight is Tessa's journey. She does go through a bit of an identity crisis in this story. She had an awful family life. Her parents didn't want her, considered her to be an abomination & cast her aside the first chance they got. Tessa feels like an outcast and she struggles with not only that, but her Variation as well. She begins to lose herself in Madison's life. She becomes attached to her friends and family, and just being a regular teen for once. She loses control of her shapeshifting and sometimes even has trouble changing back into herself. I admired her internal and external struggles to know herself and come to peace with herself and her abilities. I feel so close to Tessa and I really came to love her as a character.

Overall, Impostor floored me. I loved the characters. I loved the mystery. I loved the romance. I loved the suspense and the thrill. The author kept her plot on point and had me enthralled from the first page to the last. The ending was impressive and, while it tied up loose ends, it also introduced some new issues to be tackled in future installments - without leaving us with a cliffhanger. This one is definitely an amazing opener for the series and I, for one, cannot wait for the next book! I definitely recommend this one for those who like science fiction/supernaturals or mysteries!