by Susanne Winnacker
Series: Variants #1
Published: 28 May 2013
Razorbill, Hardcover, 274 pages
Can Tessa pose as Madison . . . and stop a killer before it’s too late?
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 training with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. 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.
If I recalled correctly, this book was on my Top Ten 2013 Spring TBR list. My first impression of it was like a younger version of X-Men, in book form and where the mutants were called Variants, so I really hoped it would be both kick-ass and fun. However, though Impostor got the fun part down, it wasn’t as action-packed as I had hoped.
I would say I had pretty high expectations for Impostor, especially since the protagonist, Tessa, had the same name and supernatural ability of shapeshifting as the protagonist of my favorite trilogy (EVER), The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare. Unfortunately, because of my uncontrollable urge to compare, my whole impression of this book was brought down a little because nothing (as of now) can compare to my favorite trilogy.
Honestly speaking, the opening of the book was pretty slow and shallow. It’s a teensy bit annoying when Tessa was just moping around over the fact that Alec, her ‘good friend’ (whom she obviously likes), was dating some other girl, Kate. It didn’t help either that Kate was a total cliché – the mean and hateful enemy of the protagonist.
But as soon as the whole case with Madison came into the picture, the story picked up. I loved that Tessa was devastated about Madison’s situation. Her ability to sympathize and feel made her easier to relate to as compared to a jaded and unfeeling MC. Tessa definitely wasn’t one of those strong and crazily capable characters, but since she started out pretty normal, plain and insecure, her growth through her mission was very much clearly portrayed.
As I’m usually very critical of insecure characters (it’s really easy to make a character go from insecure due to life experience to plain old annoying self-hate), I think Tessa’s lack of confidence was nicely played out since I didn’t feel frustrated with that side of her (much).
On the other hand, the romance in the story really bugged me. Everything was overly complicated and dramatic. I’m definitely not a fan of Alec. I’m sorry, but he rubs me the wrong way. In my opinion, Tessa can do so much better than an indecisive guy like him. Sure, he’s got his good moments, but overall, not my sort of male lead.
Plot-wise, it was okay… It was suspenseful and mysterious enough to keep me interested but there’s definitely room for more. I would still say Tessa was the best part of the book though. The huge contrast between the Tessa at the start and end was amazing and who doesn’t like a good ole’ story of self-descovery?
To me, Impostor had some serious potential with the fact that the story revolved around Variants. Yet, it definitely could’ve used a lot more butt-kicking and action. As for recommendations, I think fans of urban fantasy and a girl-next-door MC would most likely enjoy Impostor. This would also make a good quick read, with only 274 pages.