This attempt at a teen paranormal-thriller/romance novel is about as satisfying to fans of the genre as a cup of weak herbal tea would be to a thirsty vampire.
Who hasn’t wanted to change places with someone else…someone prettier, smarter, more popular? Tessa can. She’s a Variant, born with a special skill, trained by a special—and very secret—branch of the FBI. Her ability to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches allows her to take on the identity of popular, small-town Madison, the latest victim of a serial killer. Tessa takes her form, and the news of her “survival” is leaked to the press. Using a cover story of amnesia, Tessa assumes Madison’s life. This includes loving parents, an attractive brother, a close best friend, an ex-boyfriend and all the normal activities of high school—something Tessa’s never known and always wanted. It’s not long before Tessa feels more like Madison than herself. But the killer isn’t about to leave her alone, and it’s beginning to look as if this predator may be a Variant, too. There are many undeveloped plotlines that never resolve satisfactorily, and characterization is straight from central casting. Tessa’s first-person narration does little to distinguish itself from the many others of its ilk, beyond a refreshing return to the past tense.
Readers will probably recall the X-Men universe and wish these characters were as well-drawn. (Paranormal thriller. 12 & up)