We Were Liars meets Heist Society in a riveting debut!
Seventeen-year-old Violet’s entire life has revolved around one thing: becoming Erica Silverman, an heiress kidnapped at age five and never seen again.
Violet’s father, the best con man in Las Vegas, has a plan, chilling in its very specific precision. Violet shares a blood type with Erica; soon, thanks to surgery and blackmail, she has the same face, body, and DNA. She knows every detail of the Silvermans’ lives, as well as the PTSD she will have to fake around them. And then, when the time is right, she “reappears”—Erica Silverman, brought home by some kind of miracle.
But she is also Violet, and she has a job: Stay long enough to steal the Silverman Painting, an Old Master legendary in the Vegas crime world. Walking a razor’s edge, calculating every decision, not sure sometimes who she is or what she is doing it for, Violet is an unforgettable heroine, and Pretending to be Erica is a killer debut.
Description taken from Goodreads.
I think I’ve figured out my problem with YA mysteries these days. Most of them think that the “grand reveal” of who the killer is or what’s going on is enough. In my opinion, its not. Most of them think that a killer with a sense of morality is enough.
For me, mystery is more than that. Mystery than a simple, answerable yes-or-no question the way contemporary is most of the time.
For example, most of contemporary:
- Do the main characters end up together? Circle one: Yes / No
For example, what murder mystery/mystery should not be:
- Does the killer get caught? Circle one: Yes / No (Dear Killer)
- Does the mystery person really exist? Circle one: Yes / No (The Third Twin)
- Did the person really die? Circle one: Yes / No (I Am Princess X)
PRETENDING TO BE ERICA in one yes or no question:
Does the conman steal the painting? Circle one: Yes / No
Basically, the thing about PRETENDING TO BE ERICA is that the supposed con(wo)man has a conscience. That conscience leads her to question if stealing the painting is the right thing to do. That’s right, Violet develops her conscience and makes a single choice over the course of 254 pages.
Yeah, I know Ron. That doesn’t cut it for me either.
For most of PRETENDING TO BE ERICA, I was actually really excited about what was going to happen. Things set up really well and I enjoyed the dialogue, prose and relationships. Violet was a relatable character whose training was fun to read about and whose experiences as a normal girl weren’t boring like I thought they would be. I especially loved Violet’s relationship with the real Erica’s mom. To the end, there were a few relationships, like the one between Violet and her friends, that stayed great until the end.
I liked that the story tried to be realistic, and that things didn’t end badly. Really, the only thing I had a problem with was the anticlimactic and predictable ending. This isn’t a bad story for a quick mystery read, but it’s forgettable and there are much better books out there to occupy your time. A few of these that are recent are Illusive by Emily Lloyd Jones, the Find Me series by Romily Bernard, A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab (review to come) and the upcoming VICARIOUS by Paula Stokes. 2 stars.
pg count for the hardback: 254