Impostors by Scott Westerfeld begins a new series based in the same universe as his most popular work: The Uglies series. Where Uglies begins in a seemingly idyllic setting, Impostors takes place after the wool has been removed from the eyes. There are precarious peace treaties in motion, and a growing rebellion against those in power.
Identical twin sisters, Rafi and Frey live very different lives. Rafi, having been born 26 minutes before her sister is the future heir to the dominion of Shreve. At 16, she already has all the makings of a ruler: she is diplomatic and charming, an expert on etiquette, multilingual, and very knowledgeable of foreign affairs. Frey on the other hand, has only been trained for one thing: to be a killer. She’s also the dominion’s biggest secret, and best weapon. Their father is a wicked man, hardened by the death of his son, long before the birth of the twins. He uses Frey merely as a tool to protect her sister. Her job is to stand in for her at events where there are large crowds, and to hide in the shadows for the rest of the time as Rafi’s ever-present bodyguard. Frey’s biggest and most important job is realized early in the novel. During dispute between Shreve and the city of Victoria concerning the distribution of iron, Victoria asks to hold on to Rafi as collateral, so the two cities work out an agreement without their father getting any extreme ideas. Rafi is too valuable to send, so Frey becomes the decoy hostage. However, their father has his own plans in store.
This novel is fast-paced, and full of action. While reading it, I got the sense that the only character that I could actually trust was the narrator. I also got the sense that no one was safe, and death was a possible for any character. Westerfeld has a gift with creating well-rounded characters with defined strengths and flaws with which readers will likely empathize.
While there was some world building, I felt that there could have been more, given the subject. Even if the reader has read the Uglies series, and has a general sense of the book’s history, this story takes place many years after Uglies, and much has changed. I could barely envision the City of Shreve, and Victoria only had a basic description. It is made clear that Shreve is technologically advanced, but I had little sense of that based on the details portrayed. Overall, however, this is a well-threaded together narrative, left on a pretty hefty cliffhanger. It can stand apart from its predecessor, but you will best appreciate it if you have already read the Uglies series. While it was not Westerfeld’s best work, I still highly recommend it if you like dystopic novels.