Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud

Pretending to Be Erica
Michelle Painchaud
Viking Books for Young Readers

[July 21, 2015]

egalley via publicist

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.
I was pretty excited about this book going in. It's such an interesting concept and a few of my Trusteds really liked it, so I had high hopes. The actually book leaped over all those hopes and ran past it, taunting them for being so stupid. This book was so amazing and twisty and wonderful and you're all fools if you don't pick it up.

Violet/Erica is amazing. The narration makes it very clear that Violet and Erica are not the same person and they have different thoughts and feelings and reactions to events, but Violet has to stay quiet and let Erica win over. Those moments where they overlap are incredible and one of the few times we get to really see Violet in action.

The side characters were what really made the story, though. Violet has Sal, her "father," her "friends" at school, some of whom aren't totally convinced, some who are fully willing to believe. And of course, there's a boy. Each one of these characters is so richly built, the believers and the non-believers, and we come to know them so well throughout the story. They're all essential to the con working as it does and I loved them all. And the romance was so sweet and adorable and perfectly awkward to honor Violet/Erica's weird situation.

The premise itself is so fascinating to me. I mean, a little girl raised to take the place of a kidnapped heiress? How cool is this idea? And how do you end it? And it played out as brilliantly as any mystery/thriller book could. The comp titles here are incredibly spot on. I was getting to the end of the book, had about 10% left, and I had no idea how it was going to finish out. There was just no possible way for it all to work out for Violet/Erica. So when it did end, the way it finished was a total shock and it was perfectly managed.

I just absolutely loved this book and was blown away by how amazing it was. It was the perfect thriller and I'm incredibly excited to see what's next from Michelle.


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