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Impostor: A Variants Novel

Impostor: A Variants Novel

4.3 12
by Susanne Winnacker

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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


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—he stress, the danger, the deceit—but loves playing the role of a normal girl. Disguised 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 superhuman arrives at a very human conclusion: even a girl who can look like anyone struggles the most with being herself.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Tanya Paglia
Working for the FEA (Forces with Extraordinary Abilities) can be life-changing—literally. Tessa is a "variant" with an ability to accurately transform into another person. Her first mission is taking over the identity of a murdered teenager, Madison, whose family and friends believe survived the vicious attack. To catch the serial killer, Tessa, along with Alec, her best friend at the agency, whom she has secretly loved since the day they met, though he is older and has a girlfriend, must pose as high school students. Tessa is not used to having a loving family and Madison's parents are just what she needs but she cannot let herself get too close. She is the "ultimate weapon," but this killer has a few tricks up his sleeve. Tessa suspects he is a rogue variant who may be working for an underground organization that will stop at nothing to get who or what they want. Winnacker knows how to build a suspenseful novel. This is an unpredictable page-turner with shades of terror reminiscent of a Stephen King novel. Winnacker has created an original story with great characters to whom readers will relate, and infused with supernatural elements for an added bonus. Tessa faces an identity crisis in more ways than one and must find a way to trust her instincts in the field and out. Her status as an "imposter" does not define her, though it makes her vulnerable at times. A second novel is hinted at, and highly anticipated. Reviewer: Tanya Paglia
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—Tessa has a special skill set: she can absorb the DNA of anyone and become that person. She is one of a group of Variants who use their talents as part of the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities (FEA). Fellow members include a boy who is inhumanly strong and a girl who can become invisible. They are under the supervision of the Major, but they do not know his talent, and Agent Summers, who can manipulate minds. Tessa is pulled from training and put into the field to help capture a serial killer whose latest victim survived, but will not for long. She assumes the form and identity of Maddy and struggles to fit in with the girl's family and friends. With her cover story of amnesia, her questioning uncovers Maddy's affair with one of her teachers, providing another suspect. As days go by, Tessa reads accounts of the murders and notices that there was a fog or mist the nights of the attacks; she suspects that the killer is a Variant who can control the weather. Trying to complete her mission before she totally loses control of her variation leads her into a situation that almost gets her killed when she is told about a group of rogue Variants (the setup for a sequel). The book should appeal to readers who like high-octane novels with a paranormal twist. Be prepared to clear up possible confusion between this and Robinson Wells's "Variants" series (HarperCollins).—Suanne B. Roush, Osceola High School, Seminole, FL
Kirkus Reviews
This attempt at a teen paranormal-thriller/romance novel is about as satisfying to fans of the genre as a cup of weak herbal tea would be to a thirsty vampire. Who hasn't wanted to change places with someone else…someone prettier, smarter, more popular? Tessa can. She's a Variant, born with a special skill, trained by a special--and very secret--branch of the FBI. Her ability to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches allows her to take on the identity of popular, small-town Madison, the latest victim of a serial killer. Tessa takes her form, and the news of her "survival" is leaked to the press. Using a cover story of amnesia, Tessa assumes Madison's life. This includes loving parents, an attractive brother, a close best friend, an ex-boyfriend and all the normal activities of high school--something Tessa's never known and always wanted. It's not long before Tessa feels more like Madison than herself. But the killer isn't about to leave her alone, and it's beginning to look as if this predator may be a Variant, too. There are many undeveloped plotlines that never resolve satisfactorily, and characterization is straight from central casting. Tessa's first-person narration does little to distinguish itself from the many others of its ilk, beyond a refreshing return to the past tense. Readers will probably recall the X-Men universe and wish these characters were as well-drawn. (Paranormal thriller. 12 & up)
From the Publisher
"An unpredictable page turner with shades of terror reminiscent of a Stephen King novel."—VOYA

"Fresh and inventive. . . . the strongly-written mystery component takes center stage."—BCCB

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Variants Series
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
HL670L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"An unpredictable page turner with shades of terror reminiscent of a Stephen King novel."—VOYA

"Fresh and inventive. . . . the strongly-written mystery component takes center stage."—BCCB

Meet the Author

Susanne Winnacker studied law before becoming a full-time writer. She lives with her husband, a dog, and a rabbit in Germany. She loves coffee (in every shape and form), traveling, and animals. When she isn't writing, you can usually find her in the kitchen, experimenting with new vegan dishes. Visit her website at susannewinnacker.com and follow her on Twitter @SusanneWrites

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Impostor: A Variants Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Symbol: &<_>eacute <br> Rank: Queen. <p> Symbol: &<_>pi <br> Rank: mini.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ABookVacation More than 1 year ago
If you&rsquo;re a fan of X-Men, then this is definitely the book for you. Tessa is a Variant; her special ability allowing her to morph her appearance into anyone after one simple touch. And she&rsquo;s about to go on her first mission: taking the place of a teenager on her death bed, another victim of what the FBI is certain is a serial killer Variant gone rogue. But taking over someone&rsquo;s life isn&rsquo;t as easy as it sounds, even if you do look identical. There&rsquo;s the problem with memories, friendships, and daily interactions in general that Tessa is going to have to take in stride if she&rsquo;s going to play her cards right and stop the killer before her time runs out&mdash;and that may be sooner than she thinks. Forced to lie on a daily basis, torn between her feelings for her co-worker and the real Madison&rsquo;s brother, Tessa has her work cut out for her as everything around her begins to unravel. I thoroughly enjoyed this very fast-paced read! I&rsquo;ve always wished I had special abilities like the X-Men do, and Winnacker really brings it to life through her novel, Imposter. There is a lot going on, and I must say, Winnacker did a great job putting me off the trail. I had the wrong person pegged as the killer from the get-go, and while I sometimes questioned my choice, I stuck with them only to find that, in the end, Winnacker not only fooled Madison and her team, but me as well. I really enjoy it when authors are able to keep me guessing, and that&rsquo;s exactly what happened in this novel. Overall, it was a great read with just a few slow spots here and there, and I highly recommend it to any readers out there who love the idea of X-Men.
S_Huston More than 1 year ago
A review of Impostor from: Head In The Clouds; A YA Book Review Blog **I received this as an eARC through Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. In no way does that effect the thoughts and opinions expressed here. I did not get reimbursed in any way for writing this review.** REVIEW We have another winner folks! I could not stop reading this book I just had to keep going till I knew what would happen! I also love how the cover totally reflects the book! Win! Tessa is the MC, she is a variant which is someone who has some sort of evolved power, her ability is to turn into anyone she wants. Her body captures DNA from the people she touches and holds onto it until she needs it. She lives in the FEA compound where she has been working and training for the past two years to become a super spy. The book revolves around her going on her first real mission in which she becomes Madison (who has been murdered) to hunt down a possible variant serial killer. This book captured me from page one. I instantly forged a connection with Tessa whose own parents didn't want her after finding out about her variance. She fills that hole with Alec and Holly along with a handful of other characters who make up her circle of friends. Tessa's BFF Holly makes for a great partner in crime but I was disappointed that she didn't have a bigger part in the book but it's understandable since Tessa doesn't spend much time at the compound. Hopefully in the next one we can see more interactions between Tessa and her FEA friends. The people Tessa meets while she is impersonating Madison make her wish she were just a normal girl, you can feel her longing for a family to love her and I found myself wishing she could be Madison forever. Alec is her best guy friend but it's obvious right away that she has more than just friendly feelings for him. Their relationship is dripping with sexual tension which is only made worse by the fact that for some reason their relationship seems like it is forbidden. There is some secret there that I still haven't figured out. Now I am all Team Alec but Devon (Madison's Twin Brother) could quickly become more than just a runner up if Alec doesn't change his tune. By the final chapters I had no idea who the killer was going to be and how we found out was an intense situation. The final wrap up of the book was well done, while it didn't leave me recovering from a cliff hanger, it gave me just enough info to be able to highly anticipate the next book! Seriously! When does the next one come out?! Bottom Line: Impostor is a thrill ride filled with excitement, suspense, and emotional tension. It keeps you guessing until the end and leaves you wanting more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book kept me interested until the end. Suspenseful with twists until the end. Hope the second book is as good as the first.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished it! I cant believe how good it was!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I do believe i read this exact book in the form of Clockwork Angel... very original
BooksWithBite More than 1 year ago
Ms. Winnacker is quickly becoming my favorite author.  I went into this book expecting a typical YA story and instead I got something much deeper. It came with secrets, calculated plots with lots of twist and deaths. Plot: You know a plot is written well when your reading it and all of sudden you have to put the book down cause of the nerves that are racking up your system.  The plot is done well you actually feel like you are in the story, experiencing every moment in Tessa shoes. Each chapter builds up nicely to another, leading up to an amazing ending. Love: Can this relationship be any more complicated? It&rsquo;s not a love triangle with a guy. More like the guy can&rsquo;t pick a girl. GAH! It really made my heart race and want to scream! It made me happy then sad. Nervous then excited. Basically, I felt like a teen and with that said, the author clearly got her point across well. Variants: I totally love this idea. To be able to mimic another persons DNA by just touching them. Imagine Mystic from X-men, but in teen form. And she is posing as s girl trying to stop the killer. All the while she is dealing with keeping her form, living with a family, and going to school. I think everything weaved well and left me totally excited for the next book. Cleverly packed with a stunning plot, Impostor is brilliant. Not predictable, but giving the reader exactly what they need&hellip; a fresh new story that leaves you on a threshold for more. A vibrant read that is unique and creative, Impostor rules.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
majibookshelf More than 1 year ago
I have always been eyeing the cover of Impostor, because seriously, isn't that cover just so creative? I love it! When I first read the synopsis, it sounded vaguely familiar. I still wanted to give it a try because I guess it just sounded awesome! Tessa, the main protagonist, is a variant. All Variants work at the FEA (Forces with Extraordinary Abilities), which is a secret part of the FBI. Variants are those people who are gifted with certain powers. Some have the ability to disappear, to control objects, to shape shift, etc. I love that each and every other person had a different Variant, and it was definitely exciting to find out who had what. Tessa has the ability to absorb the DNA of a certain person she touches, then she can transform, or shape shift, into that person. Tessa is a very interesting character. We get to see her at her points of weakness, and her high points. I was really able to relate to her. Despite our different circumstances, (I'm obviously not a Variant) I was still able to connect to her very well. When a serial killer strikes the city of Livingston, Tessa gets her first real mission. She was to impersonate Madison, a teenage girl who was one of the targets. Madison was in a comma, and was about to die soon. The plan was to pretend that Madison miraculously survived, but it would actually be Tessa. How AWESOME is that? Then, Tessa had to live in Madison's world and try to figure out who the serial killer was. Did I ever mention Alec? Well, let's just say that we have a very interesting romance story in this book.Overall, Impostor was the book I was looking for! It had a bit of everything I look for in books! Great characters, great storyline, mystery, and a bit of romance. I am definitely excited for the second book of the Variants series to come out! Susanne Winnacker really did a fantastic job in this one! I would really recommend this to all young adult readers who are fans of paranormal and mystery! 
Sarah_UK1 More than 1 year ago
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Penguin Young Readers Group, Razorbill, and Netgalley.) 16-year-old Tessa is a variant. Just by touching someone she can copy their DNA, and change her body to look exactly like theirs. 18-year-old Madison is the 4th victim of a serial killer, and although she&rsquo;s not dead, she&rsquo;s in a coma and likely to die soon. Tessa works for the FEA &ndash; a branch of the FBI, and after 2 years of training, Madison will be Tessa&rsquo;s first assignment. It&rsquo;s up to her to take over Madison&rsquo;s life, and to catch her killer. Can Tessa really fool people into thinking she is Madison though? Can she catch the killer? And can she do it without getting killed in the process? This was an interesting story about a girl who could basically morph herself into someone else! Tessa was an interesting character, but I did think that she was too easily swayed. I know that she was obviously stuck working for this group called the FEA, but she didn&rsquo;t seem to even think about maybe wanting to not work for them, or wanting to get away and have her life back to herself. She didn&rsquo;t really seem worried about impersonating someone who had a killer after them either. While her best friends were quite rightly worried, she just saw it as a mission, and didn&rsquo;t really seem to take into consideration that this was real, and she could actually end up dead. There was some romance in this book, although it took place in the form of a love triangle. Tessa is in love with her best friend Alec, but Alec is going out with Kate, which Tessa isn&rsquo;t happy about. This romance was a little odd though, and I couldn&rsquo;t help but feel that Alec was hiding something from Tessa, and that there was more to his relationship with Kate than Tessa realised. I can only guess that we will find out more about this in the next book. I liked the storyline, although Tessa seemed to fool people really easily into believing she was Madison. I felt really sorry for Madison&rsquo;s friends and family who believed her to be alive and well, when really she was dead, and I also felt sorry for Tessa who found herself part of a loving family &ndash; something that she herself hadn&rsquo;t had for years. I didn&rsquo;t guess who the killer was, I thought the signs pointed to someone else. The actually reason for the murders was a bit odd though, and was a bit anti-climactic. I also thought that the ending was a little too beneficial for certain people too, and wasn&rsquo;t really sure about the believability of the FEA&rsquo;s newest discoveries (sorry, trying not to give spoilers!). I did like the mystery of who the killer was though, even if I didn&rsquo;t guess right! I also liked the way that the story was opened up at the end for the next book in the series though. It will be interesting to find out what happens to Tessa and her team next! Overall; an interesting start to the series. 7 out of 10.