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Welcome to the Land of Make-Believe

In Antony John's latest, a boy named Seth goes from acting in a community theater play to being cast in the next Hollywood blockbuster. So why does he feel like everyone's an Imposter, including himself?

Welcome to the Land of Make-Believe

BOOK REPORT for Imposter by Antony John

Cover Story: The Shadow Knows
Drinking Buddy: Come In Here, Dear Boy, Have a Cigar
Testosterone Level: I'm Ready for My Close-up
Talky Talk: That's Entertainment
Bonus Factor: Stroke
Bromance Status: The Coworker I'm Afraid Is Plotting Against Me

Cover Story: The Shadow Knows

Kind of a standard cover, until you notice the shadow doesn't mesh with the figure. Very nice touch, but I didn't realize this until after I'd already read the book.

The Deal:

Seth Crane is an eighteen-year-old aspiring actor who has just been turned down for a role in a local Chevy commercial. His widower father has had a debilitating stroke and can no longer support Seth or his kid brother, Gant. Things are not looking up.

But one night, after a performance of Romeo and Juliet, a director approaches Seth. Seems a big name actor has dropped out of a film, and they need to replace him. Seth would be perfect. He's going to be a star! Parties, fame, girls...all for him.

And this is a special film, too. Each actor will wear a camera and film each other. Ad libbing is encouraged. This film is going to be REAL.

What could possibly go wrong?

Drinking Buddy: Come In Here, Dear Boy, Have a Cigar

So Seth, of course, is overwhelmed by all this attention. The producers buy him new clothes, he's staying in a fancy hotel, and all of a sudden the public wants to know who this Seth Crane guy is. He laps it up...but he's still just that kid with stars in his eyes. And maybe he blabs a bit too much to the press. Maybe he's surprised when celebrities aren't who they seem to be on the screen. And of course he's a little too trusting. So what if he gets in a fight with some jackass...who cares? The answer: everyone. Celebrity scandals are big money, and Seth just made the front page.

After a while, he loses that community theater charm and starts buying into all the hype. I still liked Seth up to the end, though it was hard to see him fail, especially when the reader sees it coming and he doesn't.

Testosterone Level: I'm Ready for My Close-up

So Seth, who a month ago couldn't hook up with the girl who played Juliet, is now surrounded by the Hollywood elite. Sabrina, an A-lister who's also in the movie, is totally flirting with him. But Seth is actually into Annaleigh, his costar. Annaleigh is just a simple girl from Arkansas with a bad home life. She and Seth totally click, and it doesn't hurt that they're playing lovers in the film. And when the shooting is over, who's to say the romance has to end? It's not like an innocent private conversation with Sabrina will be secretly filmed and released on the internet, making it look like there's something else going on there. Just put that thought out of your mind.

Meanwhile, Seth is learning about Hollywood egos. There's Kris, Sabrina's 'boyfriend' who dropped out of the film and now wants back in. He'll be totally cool with Seth taking his role, his fame, and his girlfriend. There's the angry producer and the scheming director. The disgruntled intern. The film laborers who know that selling a compromising photo will pay a lot more than their job. And someone in a green Mazda who always seems to be following Seth's car.

Hey, I'm just trying to make a movie here! Why are you treating me like some kind of...celebrity?

Talky Talk: That's Entertainment

So remember what I said about everything being filmed? Well, suddenly everything is out there on the internet and in the papers. Stuff no one was supposed to see. Seth's story of how he lost his mother. Annaleigh, and her father who's in prison. Someone on the set is making money on the side. Someone's selling secrets.

The accusations fly, and Seth doesn't like where they're going. Sabrina shared some really personal stuff with him. That couldn't have been a setup, right? And sweet, innocent, Annaleigh, she has as much to lose as Seth. And what about his brother, Gant...the photographer. The film extra. He wouldn't sell out Seth...not in a million years.

This book has an excellent 1984/Truman Show vibe, where even the most innocent, off the cuff comment can be misconstrued, and where people are paying big money for evidence of your misdeeds...even if they have to manufacture them. Imposter kept me guessing until the end, and even then I didn't see it coming.

Bonus Factor: Stroke

Seth and Gant's father had a stroke a couple of years ago. It was right when their mother was sick, so he ignored the symptoms. Now he has lost the use of the left side of his body, as well as any prospects for finding work.

It kills Seth to see his father like this, unable to even iron his own clothes. He thinks if he can hit it big in Hollywood, then his father won't need to support the family. And therefore not feel so useless.

His father seems to feel the same way, which is why he swallows his worries about his son's new career. And why he feels guilty when things start to go badly.

Stroke victims are not often portrayed in YA books, and Seth's 52-year-old father was an interesting and sympathetic character.

Bromance Status: The Coworker I'm Afraid Is Plotting Against Me

What? It's just a simple book about the movies. Nothing more. I'm sure there are no dark twists or unexpected revelations that will blindside me...

Full disclosure: The author gave me a free arc. No money exchanged hands, though he later sold the story to the tabloids. This book comes out in September.

 

Brian Katcher's photo About the Author: Brian Katcher wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.