Impostor (Variants) by Susanne Winnacker

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Impostor (Variants) by Susanne Winnacker

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Category: Teens
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Paranormal story along the lines of the X Men. Tessa is a variant who can change shape. She's working for a secret arm of the FBI. Can she find a dangerous serial killer?
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: January 2014
Publisher: Hodder
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1444916173

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Tessa can absorb the DNA of other people and use it to transform herself into an exact copy of them. Along with other teens with strange powers, she has spent two years training with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. When a serial killer terrorises a small town in Oregon and his final victim is left in a coma from which doctors say she will not recover, Tess is sent on her first mission - to impersonate the dying girl and to find the killer.

Tess hates deceiving a family that believes her to be its precious daughter. But she loves being accepted as part of a loving family for the first time in her life. But she can't forget the danger she is in. Or her feelings for fellow Variant, Alex...

For me, Impostor was sadly an underwhelming read. Teen superhero/comicverse novels aren't really my cup of tea but I am quite happy to read them. This is an X-Men-esque story, featuring teen crime fighters with many different mutations, called Variations. I like the X-Men but y'know - I would like an original take in a book. But Impostor has exactly the same set-up. One group of Variants is working for the FBI and on the side of the good guys, despite a society that fears and distrusts them - what they know of them, that it, because Variants are kept in the shadows. Then there's another group who are the bad guys - Winnacker only hints at them in this first story - but it's quite clear they're going to be an exact copy of Magneto's band from the comics. Sigh. Nothing new to see here.

And then there's the central character, Tess. Tess is an undercover FBI agent who really does little else other than obsess over the object of her crush - who is, you guessed it, a fellow Variant and partner on the mission. When she does turn her attention to the job in hand for a page or two here and there, she acts rashly and stupidly, despite the two years of training she has apparently had. She's barely in control of her Variation and why on earth anyone in charge would have allowed her to do field work is beyond me.

It's a shame because the whodunnit part of the novel is well-plotted and well-written. I wasn't sure of the murderer's identity right up until the reveal. But by that time I was so fed up with the lack of originality and the useless Tess that I really didn't care. I don't like to be this mean about a book but I don't like to fib either. I think it will find an audience in readers who are interested in romance above all - and these readers will quite enjoy the standard tropes of miscommunication, rival girlfriends and first kisses. Sadly, though, I can't recommend Impostor to anyone else.

You can read about other junior FBI agents in The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. You might enjoy Marie Antoinette, Serial Killer by Katie Alender: we had our reservations.

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Buy Impostor (Variants) by Susanne Winnacker at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Impostor (Variants) by Susanne Winnacker at


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