Book Review: Impostor by Susanne Winnacker

Title: Impostor
Series: Variant #1
By: Susanne Winnacker
Author Info: Blog | TwitterGoodreads
Age Group:
Young Adult
Genre Type: Science Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Thriller
Publication Date: May 28th 2013
Publisher: Razorbill  
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 274 pages
Source: Bought

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.


Impostor by Susanne Winnacker is a fun and suspenseful young adult story that combines fascinating elements of Sci-Fi and romance with the page-turning ability of a thriller. It involves some great action, a world inhabited by super-humans with really unique powers known as Variants, just the right amount of romance, and a murder mystery involving a serial killer that kept me guessing until the end.


When I read the summary for Impostor, I knew I had to grab it up. Being a fan of X-men and Science Fiction Thrillers, I thought Impostor sounded like a fun and exciting read. The cover of course is gorgeous, and the fact that the story revolves around Tessa, who is a teen Variant training to be a spy, and involves a serial killer made it a hit with me.


Tessa is a Variant. She is able to absorbed the DNA of anyone she touches and to mimic their appearance. Abandoned by her mother as a child, she is recruited into a secret government agency devoted to working with Variants. Known as the FEA (Forces with Extraordinary Abilities) Tessa is trained to use her unique abilities as a Variant to become a spy. In order to help track down a serial killer who is terrorizing a small home town, she is asked to pose as Madison, a teen who was the killer’s latest victim.

Can Tessa stop a killer from striking again? What happens when lines become blurred, and Tessa’s life and Madison’s become irrevocably entwined? Where does the role of Madison end and the real life of Tessa begin?

Remember everything you read about Madison. From now until we find the murderer, you’re Madison. Tessa’s dead.

Tessa’s dead.

Something gripped my insides and twisted. If I could vote to determine who should live and who should die-Madison or me-there was no doubt about the outcome. Madison had parents, a brother, relatives, even an ex-boyfriend who loved her; I had nothing.


TESSA may be a Variant with the ability to morph into anyone she wants, but she has all the feelings and insecurities that every normal teen has. Abandon as a child, Tessa yearns for the things she never had as a child: a family, love and acceptance for who she is. You could easily feel Tessa’s conflicted emotions as she struggled to maintain her impersonation of Madison, all the while trying not to lose herself in the role. It was easy for me to empathize with Tessa, especially as she took on the role of Madison and was experiencing for the first time what it was like to be loved and accepted by family and friends. How easy it would be for Tessa to completely take over the role as Madison.

I could stop being Tessa and just be Madison. Her body already felt like home, her family like the one I’d always wanted.   

Could I live the lie for decades?

But one troubling thought haunted me. It wasn’t me they loved, it was Madison.

Tessa’s character really tugged at my heart. Yes, she has a lot of “teen moments" in Impostor, but I found her character to be an endearing one. It was great to see her character grow, and to realize that no matter who she is on the outside, it’s the Tessa on the inside that counts.

SWOON FACTOR Crush. It's a lot of: "I like you, but I can’t have you." and then there is some fabulous kisses.


There is definitely a romance brewing between Alec and Tessa, and it’s the kind where one of them is fighting the attraction more than the other.


He shook his head, as if it scared him just thinking about it. “I’ve tried to fight my feelings for you because I thought you were too young and because of Major...but I just don’t care anymore. I’m tired of resisting, tired of fearing the consequences.”

His thumb brushed across my cheeks and then his lips pressed against me, warm and soft. I melted into the kiss, relaxing against him. After a moment, he pulled back and exhaled.

"I Want to do this everyday."

I smiled against his mouth. "Then do it.”


Yes, I’m a Sci-Fi nerd. I actually loved suspending belief for a moment, and enjoyed all the fun and unique abilities the characters had in Impostor. In fact, I suspect Susanne Winnacker may introduce a whole new band of misfits variants (Abel’s Army) in her next book, which I would love to see.



Well, to be honest, although I really liked Alec’s character, the boy does protest too much! It was frustrating that every time Alec was becoming closer to Tessa, he would protest and push her away emotionally.


I really enjoyed the ending of Impostor, and Susanne Winnacker did a great job of keeping me guessing as far as to who was the serial killer. I had my suspicions, but was never totally sure until the ending. I would suggest Impostor to those of you who are looking for a Young Adult read with a light Sci-Fi atmosphere, a touch of mystery, and romance.

RECOMMENDATIONS Try MILA 2.0 by by Debra Driza  or The Rules by Stacey Kade

MY RATING 4 Stars. I really liked it!

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Goodreads