Review: Imposter by Susanne Winnacker

Posted November 20th, 2013 in book review / 16 comments


Variants Series #1

by Susanne Winnacker

Publisher: Razorbill (May 2013)
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult
Format: eBook ( 274 pages)
Source: Free book from publisher (Netgalley) for honest review
Find It: Goodreads | Amazon Print | Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Rating: ★★★½☆ (3.5 stars)

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.

At A Glance
I really enjoyed this story but some parts were just unbelievable (in a bad way).

The Good
Now this was a unique concept. Okay, okay, the whole teens with abilities is not unique, can we all say X-Men? Yes, the idea is very X-Men-esk, but what Winnacker does with the concept was unique. Tessa can change her appearance into anyone she touches. She is sent on a mission to impersonate Madison, the latest victim of a local serial killer, in the hopes of luring the killer out. Tessa is scared out of her mind, but by stepping into Madison’s life, Tessa finds the loving parents, supportive brother, and amazing overall life she never got to have. I really, really loved this concept.

I was engrossed the whole time with Tessa and her mission. It was bittersweet as she got close to the Madison family. She couldn’t keep them but, boy, did she want to. My heart ached for her, she deserved to have a loving family and a normal life. But that’s not really in her stars. She works and lives with the FBI, and her ability is too valuable not to be put to good use. Tessa was very immature but she was also so caring and sweet. She was very determined when she put her mind to it. For her own sake, I hope she finds love soon because she is the kind of girl who needs a strong boyfriend by her side.

Alec was hot and cold for me but through everything, he did his damnedest to keep Tessa safe. But I really liked Devon the most. He was such a great brother and friend. I would love to have a brother like him, but then again, that would be awkward since I liked him like a boyfriend too. *Doh* Some of the other side characters really added to the story as well.

The mystery was very exciting. I never knew for sure who the killer was. The pacing was fast, which was nice, and the suspense was well done.

The Bad
I loved the concept but the execution was weak when it came to believability. These teenagers with abilities are being trained by the FBI to go on missions and use their abilities effectively. This is what I was presented with and this is what I expected. This is not what I got. I got a bunch of dramatic, whiny teenagers making half-ass attempts to complete a mission that they should never have been assigned. Obviously these kids are not ready to chase after bad guys, or maybe the FBI sucks major ass at training people. I don’t know. I mean, Tessa starts having trouble with holding onto Madison’s appearance for extended periods of time. Um, wouldn’t the FBI have made Tessa test out her ability in every way??? And why wasn’t her problems with her abilities ever explained? We where so left high and dry on that one. Tessa is not an FBI agent by a long shot. She makes stupid decisions and barely knows how to fight. Not that she could shake herself out of the constant thoughts of boy troubles long enough to try to fight and solve a crime anyway.

The Snuggly
The romance was rocky to say the least. Tessa loves/likes Alec, but Alec is dating someone else, someone who hates Tessa. But Alec’s relationship seems fishy. Alec obviously has feelings for Tessa but something is holding him back. While playing Madison, Tessa starts liking Madison’s twin brother, Devon. Yeah, can anyone say awkward? Alec treated Tessa unfairly a lot of the time so I wasn’t really rooting for him to get the girl. So, um, yeah, that’s all I have to say about that.

Very YA, only kissing and touching for sexual content.

Final Thoughts
This is definitely a young adult read in relation to the levels of drama and immature characters. You have to be okay with the believability being pretty low on importance. This is just a fun and mysterious read with a side of romance drama. People who love YA-ish books should try this one out as long as The Bad parts wouldn’t bother you so much. Recommended.

“You always do that, you know,” Alec said.
I swallowed a gummy bear. “Do what?”
“Bite their heads off first.”
I shrugged. “It’s the nice thing to do. If you could choose, would you rather be eaten alive starting at your feet or would you want it to be over quickly?”  

“I couldn’t remember a time when I’d been happier. The smile seemed to be permanently carved into my face, my muscles aching from unfamiliar use. Was this how my life could have been if I had been normal? In that moment, I wished more than anything that I could keep them, that I was more than an impostor with a borrowed family.”

“The straitjacket corseted my body so tightly my arms tingled and my fingers turned numb. I sank beneath the water’s surface, the weights on the jacket dragging me down. I gasped, and a spurt of liquid spilled into my mouth. Chlorine burned my eyes as I watched the distance between me and the surface growing. Blurry shapes moved above. They were watching me.”

Review #9 on blog, review #17 all together completed for NetGalley November.

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16 Responses to “Review: Imposter by Susanne Winnacker”

  1. Melanie

    I grabbed a copy of this from NetGalley just recently. I am not a fan of books where the believebility levels are low, so fingers crossed I will enjoy this!

    Fantastic review, Jennifer! <33

  2. Cait

    Mm, I’m a huge XMen fan, so I think this would annoy me a little…being LIKE XMen but not coming through with the awesomeness. I think YA needs just as cool and tight plots as concepts. But I’m with you in that the concept sounds brilliant. The cover is also really neat. 😉

  3. Ashley

    It kind of sucks about the immaturity. I hate it when teenagers are just immature and stupid.

    But I love X-Men, mysteries, and FBI stories so I totally might have to look into this one! It actually kind of reminds me of The Naturals, which I loved.

  4. kimbacaffeinate

    You had me curious but “The Bad” would make me bat crazy, all of your questions and concerns are legitimate ones I would have expected the FBI to address, and while I realize these are teens I would have expected the FBI to choose elite youth, who have maturity. Wonderful review.

  5. Neyra

    Oh I don’t think I’d be able to deal with all the drama :/ and it looks like such a good book too but I’m getting a little tired of the whiny teens who make bad choices set up. Sigh. I’m still curious, so i might check it out at the library 🙂

  6. Jaclyn Canada

    The concept seems really interesting to me. I know I’ve had this one on my to-read for a bit. I’m a little let down by the whiny teenager thing and the believing factor (I’m with you – wouldn’t the FBI train them really well??), but knowing that going in would help me not be let down on that score while reading. I think I’m definitely going to give this one a shot. Usually if you rate a YA book over 3 stars, I know I’ll probably still enjoy it even if it has some drawbacks. Thank you so much for a great review! Jaclyn @ JC’s Book Haven.

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