Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud Review

"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."

Am I the only one hoping Violet is actually Erica in blood, body, and DNA? But no, Violet is not Erica. Erica is not Violet. Violet and Erica are two different girls with different backgrounds and traits. Violet is a con artist. Erica is a civilian/student. Violet is  the complete opposite of Erica. Violet is sarcastic, bold, unafraid, and dark. Erica is sweet, kind, and good. And there is that one other difference: Erica is dead. 

But in a twisted and con artist-ish way, Erica lives on through Violet. Erica's six-year-old character has been studied by Violet for several years. Violet knows every quirk, every habit, every smile, every frown, every trait, and everything about Erica. (Violet knows Erica better than the readers themselves.)

The more Violet dives into Erica, the more she loses herself. Remember what I said about opposites? Well, Violet's confusion blurs the line between Erica and Violet. The Violet persona tries to jump out while the Erica persona is in control at almost all times. An internal war is formed between the two identities, and I love how much Violet loves her new and wonderful life as Erica. But she isn't Erica. She has a job to do. 

The con is to get the Silverman Painting. It is worth a lot of money, and Violet will be set for life if she successfully nicks it. Violet wants to steal it to please her father figure, but she also likes Erica's mother and hates to hurt her. It is a tough call. Will Violet pick the good or bad option? Duh, duh, duh. The conflict is mostly internal, and throughout the book, Violet starts seeing the holes in her life as Violet. 

Interestingly, even though the story is wonderful and amazing, I can't find an emotional connection to Violet or the story. The book's plot goes by quickly from the beginning to the end, but there is no emotional payoff (for me, at least). 

The ending closes up almost all of the loose ends. Michelle Painchaud also provides a lot of opportunity for a sequel, and I will probably read it if it comes out. 

Overall, Pretending To Be Erica is a quick read. It has an attractive synopsis, a main character with moral issues, and a sweet romance, and I bet fans of Ally Carter's The Gallagher Girl series will love this book. Best recommended for 12 and up. 

Rating: Three out of Five

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