Review: Shatter City (Imposters #2) by Scott Westerfeld

TitleShatter City
Author:  Scott Westerfeld
Publisher/Year:  Scholastic Inc 9/17/19
Length:  331 Pages
Series:  Imposters #2

Overview

When the world sees Frey, they think they see her twin sister Rafi. Frey was raised to be Rafi’s double, and now she’s taken on the role . . . without anyone else knowing. 

Her goal? To destroy the forces that created her.

But with the world watching and a rebellion rising, Frey is forced into a detour. Suddenly she is stranded on her own in Paz, a city where many of the citizens attempt to regulate their emotions through an interface on their arms. Paz is an easy place to get lost . . . and also an easy place to lose yourself. 

As the city comes under a catastrophic attack, Frey must leave the shadows and enter the chaos of warfare – because there is no other way for her to find her missing sister and have her revenge against her murderous father.

My Thoughts

It’s been a while since we’ve been in this series but this second book gives us all the feels you could hope for. (definitely an overused phrase in this story though). Anyhow, like the summary says, we are thrown right back into the middle of a war – where Rafi and Frey are against their father because all he has in mind is to destroy the world for motives unknown aside from a need for power.

When we left off, Frey traded places with Rafi in the hopes of saving her love Col, and well, we know how that turned out. The bomb collar was switched from one sister to the other, meaning that identities had to be faked yet again. Frey at least had the chance to be with Col in these unusual circumstances, all while trying to figure out how they could both get out unscathed. Thankfully, Col has his allies on call and they were able to devise a plan to get them out and hopefully on the road to freedom.

The challenge here is that Frey is on the hunt for Rafi since her entire life she was raised to protect her sister. She learns that her sister is in a city called Paz, the next target for their father, both for the notion that Rafi is there but also because Paz is a city that believes in true freedom and doesn’t conscribe to the notion of dust or spying. It’s truly free. Their father threatens devastation that no one can fathom, a Rusty weapon that appears like natural destruction and then invasion.

What Frey finds when she gets there is a mess. She learns that Rafi is gone and that she’s left everything to Frey in the meantime. she’s set up an apartment, made sure she’s taken care of, but the reasoning behind it is still a semi mystery to Frey.

That’s really what a lot of this story is about. There are semi truths or incomplete pieces of information that everyone’s working with and we don’t yet know what’s intentional, what’s accidental and what the end result here could be.

There’s so much going on that i don’t know where to start otherwise. We spend time in Paz trying to broadcast that their father is evil and is trying to take over the world, yet he’s a step ahead and while he’s destroyed the city, he appears to be the first to help build it back up. There’s a secret there that they don’t yet know the motivation behind, and when we do figure it out, there’s no surprise.

Then there’s the issue of Rafi being out in the Wild, with rebels and we don’t know what her end game is. Trying to locate her gets Frey caught by a neighboring city and held captive in the hopes of securing a stronger network of allies. When she’s freed by Col and his crew, we start to see the story speed up.

there are Easter Eggs throughout this story that trigger questions. The Paz AI tells Frey about something called ‘Iron Mountain’ but there’s no context to what it is ,where it is and what it will do. When we get to the wilds, we learn that a few people have deeper insight and it could be a key to unlocking a lot of information.

Then there’s a hint that someone that the girls know of may be in the rebels, and that there’s a key link there to Rafi’s focus on being out there. She has heard rumors and if they are true then there may be hope. The way that this specific story line plays out is so shocking though that i’m glad i assumed wrong for the bulk of the time.

We are left at a point of hope, yet a point of instability. There’s no clear direction on who will win, if their father can be bested and what that will mean to the world. Relationships continue to grow and build, and there’s something solid and sweet about each friendship and romance. The depth that we get to see psychologically with everyone is really intense as well and that’s a new feature to all of the stories that i’ve read by our amazing author.

There’s an interesting idea here that we get throughout both the Uglies and the Imposters series. Originally when you read Uglies, you see that people are never happy with what they have naturally and as a result, they surgically change or enhance everything that’s possible to change about themselves. What we learned there is that it’s not always better and sometimes tech makes things worse. What we have in this series is a tease of that since most of the modifications are now illegal, with only a few Specials remaining for example, but there’s such fear and mis information on what it was that led to the need for Surg. There’s fear of invaded privacy and that you’re never allowed to be free. It makes you wonder if this is going to be our future. The way that we enhance ourselves and the way that we allow innovative technology to watch all of our activities and even help to make life easier…..just a philosophical question today about what’s good and right and worth the stress. Ponder away until we get book 3. Enjoy!

Review: Imposters (Imposters #1) by Scott Westerfeld

Title: Imposters
Author:  Scott Westerfeld
Publisher/Year:  Scholastic 9/11/18
Length:   289 Pages
Series:  Imposters #1

Overview

Deception. Risk. Betrayal. Redemption. Master storyteller Scott Westerfeld is at the top of his game, and back to his most famous realm. A New York Times bestseller.

Frey and Rafi are inseparable . . . two edges of the same knife. But only one of them is ever seen in public.

Frey is Rafi’s twin sister-and her body double. Their powerful father has many enemies, and the world has grown dangerous as the old order falls apart. So while Rafi was raised to be the perfect daughter, Frey has been taught to kill. Her only purpose is to protect her sister, to sacrifice herself for Rafi if she must. 

When her father sends Frey in Rafi’s place as collateral in a precarious deal, she becomes the perfect impostor. But Col, the son of a rival leader, is getting close enough to spot the killer inside her . . . . 

My Thoughts

Seeing the cover of this story brings me back to a great time when I read the series that preceded this one – The Uglies. That story was ahead of it’s time with all the body mods that were possible, the reason for it, the throwback to Rusties society (which is really our time), and now we’re sort of back in it again.

Tally Youngblood was the main character in that series -a girl who did everything that she could to change how people thought about themselves and the world. She started a rebellion, and now we’re back in a time when people are primed for another rebellion, and could use her reappearance but when that doesn’t seem likely, they use her spirit.

As the summary says, Rafia and Frey are twins, half an hour apart, but worlds apart in reality. Rafia is the favorite, the one who’s meant to be the ruler and Frey is the bodyguard and the throw away. Of course though, if we haven’t learned anything in reading these types of stories – it’s always the Throw Away that has the most potential. And that’s where this story takes us.

Frey is traded to a neighboring ruling family as collateral so their father can get a hold of metal which he so desperately wants. The intention is that Frey will impersonate Rafia while she’s there so that he can get what he wants and if something goes wrong, well, then he’s only lost the spare. not the heir.

Giving Frey this kind of freedom, even though she’s essentially a prisoner, well, it’s opening her world up more than anyone could have hoped. She befriends the eldest son to the ruling family and building more than just a close friendship with him. But if Rafia isn’t what she seems, then what’s to say that Col is what he seems?

From the beginning, we’re pulled into this story from an emotional string, and then we’re kept engaged with the hope that these teens can make the world a better place. Our main characters know that how their parents rule and have raised them isn’t necessarily the best way and when they come to terms that they can be powerful as well, in a positive way, then the story explodes.

In addition to Frey and Rafia, and Col even, we have a few additional characters that truly lend good shape to the story. There’s Zura who’s a Special (if you read the other series, you would know that Specials have been modified to be military grade – stronger, faster, smarter etc). She’s proven to be incredibly helpful and perhaps one of the last remaining Victorian House Guard Specials to survive. There’s also Teo who is Col’s younger brother and a boy who’s got an interesting role in the story that we don’t fully know yet. He’s at a private boarding school in Europe when all hell breaks loose and then he goes missing and we can’t wait to see how that plays out. There’s also Col’s friend Yandre who seems to have family connections to the Rebels and we can only guess that the Rebels will be necessary (and perhaps will spawn a pop up by Tally).

What our author does well yet again is paint a picture on how societies truly divided themselves once the Rusties went away and new tech became the norm. People became far more reliant on newer and better technology to make things not only beautiful, but automated and controlled by AI etc. When that happens, as we saw in the Uglies series, people become far too reliant on things outside of themselves and society crumbles.

We go on a roller coaster with this story. Feeling heartbroken for the sisters when they are torn apart, feeling hope for Frey because she gets a chance to be someone else, and then dealing with angst and anxiety when a war breaks out and friends and loved ones are killed or torn apart. We’re left in a very precarious place at the end of this story – where one sister is forced to make a decision that can truly ruin the other one, where enemies are capturing people left and right and people are still missing. there’s almost no closure at the end of this first installment to this spin off series and that’s something that i both love and hate because i need to know more – NOW. So, on that note, i’m going to stalk Mr Westerfeld’s page to find out when the 2nd book is coming out and i’ll be back later! Enjoy!