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Impostor by Susanne Winnacker: Review

Impostor (Variants, #1)
Title: Impostor
Author: Susanne Winnacker
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Buy This Book: Book Depository 

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. (Goodreads summary.)

I saw this on Netgalley and the cover instantly grabbed me and made me click on the book and see what it was all about. When I saw that it was being compared to X-Men, but with a crime aspect, I was really intrigued and knew I just had to read it. Although the spelling did throw me off, Imposter can be spelt either way but I can't remember ever seeing it spelt as Impostor before - explains why it took me so long to find it on Goodreads, I was spelling it completely wrong.

I completely understand the X-Men reference when it comes to Impostor. Tessa is a Variant, a mutant, who has an extraordinary ability, she is able to mimic the appearance of anyone she touches. This ability pushed away her family; her father abandoned her as a child and her mother turned her over to the FEA (Forces with Extraordinary Abilities). The FEA is a part of the FBI, and trains young Variants to use their abilities in order to help on FBI cases. Tessa's unique ability to be able to take on someone else's appearance means that she is very valuable to the FEA, especially when it comes to their latest case. Tessa is asked to take the place of Madison, the latest victim of a serial killer they are trying to track down.

This was exactly what I was looking for, a fun, fast-paced story that kept me guessing and wasn't too serious. I loved the idea of the Variants and finding out each persons ability, it was my favourite part of the whole story. As thrillers go, I believe this worked really well because it did keep me turning the page, suspecting everyone and second guessing myself to the very end. It was a fun read and a fast read, but  it feels much more young than adult.

I liked Tessa as a character, she was complicated and a little damaged. She has some emotional baggage; I'm sure both your parents abandoning you because they think you're a freak is something you don't easily get over. She's hopelessly in love with Alec, who's three years older than her and in a relationship, and her constant pining for him did get a little old. There is a scene at the very beginning where she uses her ability to take on the appearance of Alec's girlfriend, in the hope that he would kiss her. That was a little too embarrassing and ridiculous for me, and had me cringing as I read it.

I did find the whole concept of her taking on the appearance of Madison a little bit morbid. Especially since it meant convincing Madison's parents that their daughter had survived and hadn't been killed by the serial killer. But we know that Tessa will have to go back to her life eventually, and they will be left to deal with losing their daughter all over again. Seemed ridiculously cruel and I am sure they could of tracked down the killer some other way. But oh well, it works for the story so I will let it go.

This is completely off the subject but I want to mention it. A pet hate I have is the lie that books and movies tell us, that people in death look all serene and peaceful. They always show people in comas as if they are asleep, and the same way after they die. Prime example from the book:
"I'd always thought that death would be ugly and ghastly and forbidding. Instead it masked itself with peacefulness and quiet."
Anyone who's been faced with the reality would know that the statement was more correct in the first instance. Death is ugly and ghastly. If you're in a coma, kept alive by machines whilst all your vital organs are basically shutting down, you do not look serene, you look like death. I'd like to find one book that actually give a more realistic view on that.

The romance aspect was a little meh. Alec was an okay character, but a little too overprotective and annoying at times. Plus, it was the classic girl likes boy, boy likes girl but neither admits to it and boy can't be with girl for whatever reason he has made up in his own head. All very trivial and you've seen it a hundred times before.I think a love triangle aspect may be introduced in the next book, and I think I'd actually enjoy that because Alec wasn't that interesting as a male lead.

4/5 Stars

I was tempted on a 3.5 or even a 3. It's a little immature at times, not the greatest series starter and doesn't have the most solid characters. But, I kind of loved it and I have to mark it up for that. It was exactly what I needed at the time; a fun and easy read. I can see myself picking up the next book in the series. 

*I received a copy of this novel from the author/publisher/publicist via Netgalley in exchange for a free and honest review and received no monetary compensation for this review.


  1. I agree that the cover is extremely intriguing! I like my characters a little damaged, it makes them feel more real :) I might have to give this one a try!

    1. It's an enjoyable read, it's just a quick, easy start to a series :)

  2. I do like the cover with the two different colored eyes. Sometimes I really enjoy books that aren't so great on paper but are just what I need at the time too. :)

  3. I enjoyed this one too, but I felt the same way you did when it came to the romance. What was up with Alec and his girlfriend? It seemed like there was something going on there, like there was a reason he was with her (because he obviously liked Tessa), but then nothing ever happened with that. But I did love the premise and the mystery and I'll definitely be reading the next one. Great review! ~Pam

    1. I KNOW! I completely forgot to mention it, but in my notes I kept noting how I thought there was something going on there, a reason why they had to be together... and then NOTHING! It kept hinting at there being some reason we didn't know about for Alec to be with her, but it never comes up. I'm glad I wasn't the only one who saw that.

  4. The cover is gorgeous! And don't you hate that, when you're looking for a book on goodreads and you keep accidentally misspelling it?! Gosh! That annoys me so much... duh to me. Or when it's the most typical name every and there's 53 with the same title. Okay...rambling, rambling.
    I think I'd be tempted to try this! Although, I'm a HUGE X-Men fan, and I get cautious when books compare themselves to it. I tried Shatter Me and Mystic City, which were both supposed to be for x-Men fans...and I didn't like them at all! So maybe I'll put this on my tentative pile. Great review!

    1. At least I am not the only one who has those issues with Goodreads. I was embarrassed at how long it took me to finally track this down on there!

      I don't think that this is like X-Men at all but I understand why they are comparing it. They are basically MUTANTS and their powers are very similar to those in X-Men, and they live in a sort of school. Those are the similarities but that's about it.

  5. See, I completely stayed away from this one, mainly because of the mixed reviews, and for the reasons you've mentioned, I prefer a more mature YA than a younger side. But, seriously, she really morphed into his girlfriend just to see if he would kiss her? I- really? Double cringe. I also take my X-Men very seriously, so I'm always anxious when it's associated with books. Like Transparent by Natalie Whipple which was a complete disappointment for me, I was quite offended by the pitch. Glad you enjoyed it though- even if it has it's issues, I'll probably read it one day to make up my own mind, and maybe the next one will be better anyway. Great review! :)

    1. She really does morph into her... it was so cringe that I almost had to DNF! It only has a few X-Men similarities - they're mutants and they live in a 'school' together. But that's about it. It's in no way an amazing book but it was enjoyable and exactly what I needed at the time! :)

  6. I read and reviewed this book a while back and didn't enjoy it as much you did. I see your point on the emotional baggage, but to me, it was too focused on Tessa rather than the plot in hand. This is however a very good review, and I think you've really highlighted the positive sides to this book!

    Review: Impostor

    1. I got a little sick of Tessa when it came to her obsession with Alec, especially with everything else going on. It wasn't an excellent book but was exactly what I needed at the time - a fun, easy read - which is probably why I loved it so much.


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