Impostors by Scott Westerfeld
Allen and Unwin, 2018. ISBN 9781760528249
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Themes: Dystopian fiction. Good and evil. Rebellions. Coming of age. Adventure. Scott Westerfeld has returned to the world of his very popular and engrossing series, Uglies. It is the first of four books and sure to make his many fans very happy and will introduce a world to new readers.
Frey has always lived an isolated life. Brought up to be the body double for her twin sister Rafia, by her tyrant father, her existence has been kept a deep secret. She has been trained exhaustively and painfully to ensure that her twin isn't assassinated or in any danger, while Rafia has been taught the skills necessary for the much loved heir to the first family of Shreve.
When the Palafox family, leaders of a rival city, negotiate for Rafia to stay with them as a guarantee of her father's goodwill, it is Frey who is sent to impersonate her sister. There she meets Col Palafox, and gradually he gets close enough to her to see some of the real person behind the mask that she has to assume. When her father goes on the attack, leaving her for dead, she has to decide whether she will fight against him in the rebellion that ensues.
This is compelling reading, the world building is fantastic and it is easy to imagine a world where scrap metal is valuable and city states closely watch the lives of their citizens. The characters are fully fleshed out and Frey's father is so horrible that the reader can empathise with Frey's desire to kill him. There is a slight romance between Frey and Col but this is not the main plot (although enough for romance lovers), rather it is the action and underlying value systems of the city states that keep the reader's interest.
With a tantalising cliff-hanger on the last page, readers will be clamouring for the next book in the series.