by Susanne Winnacker
To be published on May 28, 2013
Connect with the author: website.
Summary (from Goodreads): 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
My take: Though I'd seen Impostor compared to X-Men, after reading it, I'd call this book a paranormal mystery rather than sci-fi. Fine by me -- I've loved mysteries ever since I could get through a Nancy Drew book by myself. As a result, I'm pretty picky about them, and often find YA mysteries to be disappointingly simplistic -- more Encyclopedia Brown than Hercule Poirot.
While Impostor was not without flaws, I did end up enjoying it. I'll get my quibbles out of the way first. First, a main character named Tessa who can shape-shift? Hmmm … that gave me a big jolt of déjà vu. I'm not sure if these similarities to Tessa from Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices series were deliberate or accidental, but it threw me off a little. Second, Impostors definitely took a hundred pages or so to really get going. Tessa is part of the FEA, a secret branch of the FBI made up of "variants," or teens with special paranormal abilities. I felt the book took too long setting up Tessa's relationship with fellow variants Holly and Kate, and handlers Major and Summers, all of whom have little to no bearing on the rest of the story. (There's also another variant, Alec, who had a more major role, but I'll get to him later.) Finally, I thought the mystery itself -- the motive and list of suspects -- was pleasingly creepy but a little too simplistic for my taste.
What did I like? I found the idea of Tessa being able to shape shift into another girl and solve her murder definitely intriguing. It reminded me a little of one of my favorite adult mysteries, The Likeness by Tana French. As Tessa assumes the appearance of Madison, the murdered girl, she gets to know Madison's friends and enemies, her ex-boyfriend, and the guy she was cheating with. When Tessa-as-Madison then finds herself very attracted to Madison's twin brother, Devon, I was -- okay, call me twisted -- first dubious, then very entertained. There was also an unexpected surprise at the end -- a character who isn't exactly who s/he seems to be. For those of you who are allergic to love triangles, I'll warn you that Tessa finds herself drawn to two guys, a set-up that seems likely to carry on into future books.
I recommend Impostor to fans of YA mystery, and to readers who are mourning the end of Kimberly Derting's Body Finder books, as Impostors had a similar creepy paranormal mystery vibe.
Interested? I'll be giving away Impostor on Freebie Friday in the near future, so stay tuned...