Review: Defector by Susanne Winnacker

Review: Defector by Susanne WinnackerDefector by Susanne Winnacker
Series: Variants #2
Published by Razorbill on June 26, 2014
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Romance, Thriller
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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three-half-stars

Tessa has finally made peace with her life as a Variant. She and longtime love Alec are officially a couple, and for the first time, she has everything she wants.

But the air is tense at FEA headquarters. An agent has disappeared, and rogue Variant organization Abel's Army is likely the culprit.

When Tessa is summoned for her second mission, she is unexpectedly launched into a massive conspiracy. Her best friend Holly is kidnapped, and Tessa knows it was meant to be her. But who is after her? And more importantly, why?

When the FEA's efforts to rescue Holly don't yield results, Tessa takes matters into her own hands. Desperate to save her friend and uncover the mystery behind Abel's Army, Tessa launches her own investigation—but nothing could prepare her for what she finds.

Finding the truth will take her out on the road and out of her comfort zone, with danger lurking at every turn. Summoning all of her courage and strength, Tessa must decide who can be trusted and what is worth fighting for. Her final decision will leave readers breathless.

When Defector showed up unsolicited, I was honestly kind of eh. Like, I read one Susanne Winnacker book and it was fine, but didn’t put a strong need in me to read another, and then a book two shows up. Finally, I managed to get book one and, shockingly, I liked it. I say shockingly because I’m always really surprised when I like a thing I didn’t expect to. Then Defector is even a bit better than Impostor. I can’t say that the Variants series is incredible or mind-blowing, but I think it’s solid, thrilling and super fun. These are great fast-paced reads.

One of the things I actually liked about Impostor was undone in the sequel. However, I actually like the way it was done. In my Impostor review, I noted how refreshing it was for the government facility to not be completely evil. Unsurprisingly, since the title is Defector, in the start of this one, Tessa learns some things that make her question the FEA. It’s a predictable change, really, but I do like that there’s a whole book devoted to her life before she realizes that her life with the FEA isn’t quite as idyllic as she thought it was. Plus, it’s hard to be too angry when I had advance warning that was coming.

The reason I actually like the way it was handled is because of how unclear things are. Defector is a bit like Impostor in the sense that things manage to be predictable but also kind of not? That makes very little sense and I apologize. In Impostor, I couldn’t tell who had committed the murders because Madison was surrounded by so many creeps. In this case, I honestly cannot tell for sure whether I should be rooting for the government or the rebels. I sort of suspect the answer might be neither, but I really don’t know. I think it’s really convincingly done, since Tessa really doesn’t know that herself. She’s just a teen girl who knew basically nothing about being a variant during her shitty childhood, spent a couple of years getting fed government lines, and then is trying to find the truth.

On top of that, knowing who to trust is really impossible, because so many people can manipulate emotions or memories or change their appearances. How do you know what’s real and what’s fake? Tessa isn’t the smartest heroine out there by any means, but she’s also not TSTL. She’s trying really hard to make good choices in a really confusing world. The only exception is when it took her waaaay to long to consider that the vehicle they stole from the FEA might have a tracker. No shit.

The romance takes a turn for the better in Defector. Since I can’t talk about this without spoilers, I’m going into the spoiler tags. I personally knew ahead of time and it didn’t detract from my experience, so if you’re curious feel free. View Spoiler »

Winnacker also does a better job striking for emotional resonances in Defector, I think. It’s still not an emotional read for me, but I think there are less moments where I’m TOLD about Tessa’s feelings and more showing. The plot line with her mother is surprisingly tactful. Tessa’s mother has not been a good mother to her, but I like that she’s not outright condemned when that would really have been so easy.

Defector continues the fun of Impostor and improves on some of the weak points. The writing in this series isn’t the strongest and I’d love to see further improvement of characterization, but I’m most certainly on board for the next book

Favorite Quote (which I completely love in context, but is not that impressive on it’s own I realize):

“Nobody deserves that.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif cannot trust the system

3 responses to “Review: Defector by Susanne Winnacker”

  1. This is exactly how I felt. I do think it was a better installment than Imposter and the romance aspect really improved it I think, and I appreciated that there’s a line of wondering who to trust, and I, like you, feel that neither is trustworthy. Such a good review Christina, thank you, good luck getting the next installment next year 🙂
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    • Christina Franke says:

      These books have been a really pleasant surprise. They’re so much fun, and I really hope they continue to get stronger as they go along.

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