Impostor

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Impostor Book Poster Image
Someone sees through Vee's eyes in taut thriller sequel.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Impostor is more about thrills and suspense than educational value, but the plot offers excellent examples of misdirection that may elicit some discussion of how that tool is used in narrative.

Positive Messages

Themes include friendship, family bonds, and learning from your mistakes -- and also the idea that letting your imagination run riot isn't always a good idea.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While all the characters are human and flawed, Vee shows concern for her family and friends, including those who've done her wrong in the past. Rollins, who doesn't have the easiest home life with an angry uncle and a disabled mother, has always been Vee's faithful friend in times of trouble, and their emerging romance doesn't change that.

Violence

One murder, one car crash, and much suspicion on Vee's part that someone is trying to kill her and her family.

Sex

Vee spends the night with Rollins, but the only activity that's described is embracing and kissing. Sex predator jocks prey on unwary, intoxicated girls and talk loudly about it at school, often making up things that never happened.

Language

Typical high school slang and profanity, e.g. "a--hole," "douchebag," "screw you."

Consumerism

Many products, bands, etc. are mentioned as part of the landscape and as a means for character definition. Rollins wears vintage band T-shirts, e.g. Sonic Youth and Led Zeppelin; Vee is fond of Mountain Dew and other caffeinated beverages; an ill-fated makeover involves Forever 21.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The "popular" crowd spends a lot of time drinking and taking advantage of girls who are too intoxicated to protest.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Impostor, the sequel to 2012's Slide, continues the story of Sylvia "Vee" Bell, an Iowa City teen who's able to "slide" into other people's bodies and see things from their point of view and who's also dealing with family and high-school issues. Not as violent as Slide, Impostor has only one murder but lots of paranoia as Vee tries to make sense of strange events. There's a fair amount of typical teen swearing ("a--hole," "douchebag," "screw you"), and the sexually predatory jock from Slide is still taking advantage of intoxicated cheerleaders. Vee spends the night with her love interest, but there's no description of their activities beyond passionate kissing.

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What's the story?

Six months after the conclusion of Slide, life has settled down a bit for Iowa City teen Vee Bell, though she's still troubled by nightmares of the horrific car crash that killed a friend in Slide and still coming to terms with her ability to \"slide\" into the bodies of other people and see things through their eyes. Then one night, someone apparently \"slides\" into her and makes her wreck her dad's car, raising new and scary possibilities -- along with the question of the IMPOSTOR's identity. Things only get worse when her long-lost aunt, who looks just like Vee's dead mother, suddenly shows up on the doorstep and makes herself at home. And a gray-haired lady in town seems to know way too much about Vee and her family. Meanwhile, Vee's still dealing with cliques, predatory jocks, and other hazards of high school, while realizing she's in love with her longtime best friend, Rollins.

Is it any good?

Impostor is fast-paced and insightful, with a narrative voice that's snarky, funny, and utterly vulnerable. It spends less time than Slide on the nasty, vicious culture that infests Vee's high school (and ultimately results in a notable body count and assorted tawdry revelations by story's end).

Much of the narrative is Vee's internal monologue as she tries to make sense of inexplicable events from a state of near-Hitchcockian tension and paranoia, not to mention an emotional roller-coaster of romantic and family issues. As such, it may be a bit claustrophobically fraught for some readers. But Vee is worth knowing and is an appealing narrator as she takes us on her journey.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of the idea of being able to telepathically link with other people and see things through their eyes. What other stories with this theme do you know, and how does Impostor compare?

  • Do you think the revenge that the girls plot on the predatory Scotch is appropriate or over the top? What influences your opinion/reaction?

  • Vee and Rollins love "Everlong" by Foo Fighters. Have you heard that song? What do you think?

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