A Review of: Imposters by Scott Westerfeld
Updated: Nov 1, 2018
About the Novel:
Imposters is a young adult science fiction; post-apocalyptic novel is set in the world of the Uglies trilogy. It takes place post revolution (mind-rain), and most cities are under the leadership of first families, whose leadership styles vary vastly. The story follows Frey, the hidden twin sister of Rafi, heir to the city of Shreve. Their father is cruel and domineering, and has had Frey trained to be a protector and stand in for her elder twin. He views his younger daughter as disposable, and sends her in Rafi’s place to live as a hostage of the Palafoxes, the first family of Victoria, when he strikes a deal with them. Frey soon falls for the Palafox heir, Col, and turns against her father. When Frey’s father betrays the Palafoxes, Frey finds herself free for the first time, and in the midst of a war.
This world feels both familiar and alien to the one we are presented with in the original Uglies trilogy. There is enough familiar language, technology (i.e. hoverboards), and other callbacks (Specials like the character Zura, and food like SpagBol, and even a cameo by Andrew Simpson Smith), to provide a sense of nostalgia for readers. Yet, at the same time, the structure of the society that has developed post mind-rain is foreign enough that it will feel like the reader is exploring a new world.
Something the story does really well is keeping the balance between action scenes and quiet moments, which is important to keep readers interested and wanting to know what happens next. There are also a few good surprises and fake outs in regards to the knowledge and status of characters, which adds to the feeling of suspense.
My main issues with this novel are the characters. They just aren’t compelling, and overall feel too simple. I was rooting for the Victorians, of course, but I didn’t feel attached to any of them. For me, a good novel makes me care about its characters and their fates. More than that, it makes them feel real to me, as though they are my friends. These characters were, in large part, one dimensional. Frey was the best developed by far, but even she felt like a knock off, second rate Tally Youngblood (the protagonist from the Uglies trilogy). I really didn’t feel the chemistry between her and her love interest, Col Palafox, who, quite frankly, was a very boring character. I understood some of the allure she held for him, but not the reverse. Though their relationship was reminiscent of Tally and David’s before them, and even had some parallels, it, again, seemed like a cheaper version of that love story.
The worst character by far is the mostly unseen but often talked about father of Frey and Rafi. His motivations are never really made clear, and he seems almost cartoonish. He’s everything you expect a villain to be, but to be honest it leaves him feeling more boring than compelling.
Would I Recommend This Book?: While it is impossible to separate this novel from its predecessor series, I would recommend this to someone new to the world of Uglies before I would to someone who, like me, adored the original trilogy. For someone who has read the original trilogy and is eager for a glimpse of the world post mind-rain, I’d suggest Extras by Scott Westerfeld to them before I would Imposters.
Overall, it was a good novel, but I felt it was stuck in this place of trying to replicate what made Uglies so good. At the same time, it was trying to be its own separate thing. Unfortunately, this just doesn’t entirely work. Scott Westerfeld was one of the authors who inspired me to be a writer to begin with, so I really wanted to love this novel. However, while I liked it, it simply can’t compare to the Uglies trilogy.
Overall Score: 7.5/10