Emma is still reeling from the events of her junior year at Darkwood. Not only is her best friend, Oliver, shockingly alive, but the boy she loves—his Similar, Levi—is still on the island where he grew up, stranded with his deranged creator.
More importantly, she is grappling with who she really is. Emma can’t accept the hard truths she learned last year and refuses to share her secrets with anyone, isolating herself from her friends and Ollie.
But when more of the Similars’ creator’s plot is revealed, Emma and her friends will have to try to stop him from putting a plan into motion that could destroy everyone she loves.
With it’s dark secrets, shocking truths, and political angles, the first book in this series hooked me, and I couldn’t wait to get to the sequel. It also hinted at a very bizarre love triangle.
The things I enjoyed in the first book – cloning, clone rights, and ethics – aren’t as prominent in this sequel. Instead, it focuses more on high school cliches and teen drama. Yes, this is a young adult novel, and those actions are to be expected in some of them; however, compared to the first book in this series, The Pretenders takes an entirely different path. Almost like The Similars, but in an alternate universe – Bizarro world, maybe?
Characterization is done well and I enjoyed the scientific aspects of the story. The message of not hating others for their differences is an important theme throughout. But the ending made me think of Scooby-Doo when masks are removed from the villains. Some big reveals occur, but the scene is chaotic, rushed, and felt out of place in comparison to the first book.
Overall, I’m glad I finished this series, but it didn’t work for me as well as the first book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.