Impostor by Susanne Winnacker

Impostor (Variants: Book One)
Written by Susanne Winnacker
Science Fiction, Thriller
Published January 2014
320 Pages
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.
Tessa isn't your average teen, she's part of a secret government group known as the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, focusing on counterterrorism and espionage. They call them the Variants. Tessa can fuse her DNA with that of any living person and has the ability to take on their persona. Having lived within the guidance of the FEA for the past two years, Tessa's mother handed her daughter over without question, and has never seen her since. But no amount of training could prepare her to take on the identity of Madison Chambers, high school senior and the fourth victim of a serial killer. Madison isn't expected to live, so when her life expires, Tessa is expected to play the part of the miraculous girl wonder, freckles and all. 

But Tessa won't be on this mission alone. Along for the ride is Alec, handsome trainer, Variant and boyfriend... Only he he doesn't belong to Tessa. The two have been close friends since Tessa's arrival at the FEA, much to the disappointment of his girlfriend. But his urge to protect Tessa on her first mission is too overwhelming, and volunteers for the role. Together they must both pose as high school seniors while Tessa is used to lure the killer into attempting to end her life once more. The FEA have a solid list of suspects, former boyfriend Ryan, Madison's brother Devon or Phil, the boy who is supposedly in love with Madison and a suspected Variant himself.

Tessa struggles between holding onto herself, while living Madison's life. She's never experienced the home life of a loving family, a supportive best friend and now she has Alec's attention... She may never want to return to being Tessa again.

My Thoughts


Not often does a book surprise me but Impostor was not only incredibly entertaining, but almost impossible to walk away from. It follows Tessa, she's barely been to school and never leaves the FEA compound, she trains to control her Variant ability. Tessa can infuse the DNA of others and take on their persona, great when you're trying to steal your first kiss posed as Alec's girlfriend, not so much when you're trying to lure a serial killer into the open before they strike again. Considering she's just been pushed into danger, Tessa takes it all in her stride, but Alec seemingly understands her better than she does herself and risks not only his own safety, but that of his relationship to protect the girl that has always simply been his friend. 

It reminded me a little of the original Vampire Academy, only much more engaging and minus the instant love and overused tropes. It was unique and original and the storyline flowed beautifully. The intrigue of finding the killer felt a little lackluster at times, with Tessa more preoccupied with fending off attempts by Madison's former boyfriend at reuniting, trying not to see her brother Devon as more as simply Madison's brother and unraveling the secret that was on the verge of being exposed when Madison was brutally attacked. But underneath it all was a girl who struggles with issues of abandonment, coming of age and unrequited love. 

Overall, it was incredibly entertaining and enjoyable. This is a series that I'll definitely be continuing with and look forward to reading book two, Defector. 

16 comments

  1. Glad to hear you enjoyed it, I actually haven't heard very good things so I put it on the back burner for now. I love how you compared it to the original VA though, yes please! I love the premise though of Tessa being able to infuse people's DNA. That sounds awesome. Lovely review!

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    1. Thanks Jeann. It doesn't stray too far from the typical young adult read, but it was incredibly entertaining.

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  2. I got a copy of Defector but I haven't read this one so, heh, I'm not sure when I'll get around to it. But the premise does sound cool although the cover is mildly creepy. I mean, she's got half a face of freckles. That's pure unfortunate to be interrupted mid-change. BUT ANYWAY. *strolls off to library website to see if they have it*

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    1. The covers on both look incredibly dodgy, I'm really not a fan. I think if the had something a little more subtle, they might get a look in with more readers. It's super entertaining, looking forward to seeing what you think.

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  3. I actually didn't like Vampire Academy, at least the first twenty or so pages that I've read, and that fact has been making me shy away. I love Richelle Mead, but since it was her earliest work, the writing wasn't that great imo. BUT... you said this was like VA. Except more engaging. And except it doesn't have the clich├ęs the other book has. I think I'm going to take this one over that for now (maybe it would get me in the VA mood if I liked it and wanted something similar? Haha). I just hope Tessa's other "priority" wouldn't bother me too much ><

    Faye at The Social Potato

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    1. I enjoyed the original, but it was so incredibly cliched wasn't it. The entertainment this one provides made it far more easier to read and didn't drone on like VA did for me.

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  4. Omg, she can infuse people's DNA?! Not only is that creepy, but actually a really cool concept! It sucks that the plot doesn't exactly focus on the mystery enough, but the fact that it's also about identity and being yourself is also very intriguing. Wonderful review Kelly, I hope the next book is just as good!

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    1. Usually I probably would have rolled my eyes at how typically young adult this one is, but it was far too entertaining. I'm really looking forward to starting book two shortly, really enjoyed this one. It surprised me.

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  5. I've been interested in this one for a while now but just haven't gotten around to it yet. I am so glad you enjoyed it, I'm looking forward to it even more. Great review, thanks for sharing :)

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    1. I think you'll really enjoy this one Rochelle, looking forward to seeing what you think of it. Thanks for stopping by.

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  6. I remember reading this book (though it was a while ago now), and I enjoyed it too :) Tessa was an interesting character to read about with her uninque abilities, and I can't wait to read the sequel!

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    1. Me either Eugenia. I loved the concept, it was incredibly entertaining.

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  7. Wow.. this looks like a really interesting book! Love the review.. and I'm glad it surprised you! I love when books end up being better than originally thought… definitely adding this one to my TBR list!

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    1. This is definitely one of those, I didn't expect to have enjoyed it so much. Fingers crossed that the next in the series lives up to my new expectations as well.

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  8. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one - the premise definitely has me intrigued! *Off to Goodreads I go* Fantastic review!

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    1. Thanks Ebony. It reminded me a little of the Vampire Academy series, but without the overly annoying characters and was far more entertaining. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did, the premise sounded good, but it really exceeded my expectations.

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