ARC Review: The Pretenders (The Similars, #2) by Rebecca Hanover

Title: The Pretenders (The Similars, #2)
Author: Rebecca Hanover
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Hardcover, 416 Pages
Publication Date: December 10th, 2019

Summary: 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.

We received an ARC of THE PRETENDERS in exchange for an honest review, and after reading and loving THE SIMILARS last year (you can read my review here!), I knew that this was a book that I just had to have and enjoy. So once I came home for winter break and was able to settle back into the swing of things again with reading, I dove right into this one. So without further ado, let's get into my review!

As the summary explains, Emma is finally back at Darkwood after the whirlwind year she had, helping the Similars escape the clutches of their evil guardian. Not only that, but during her quest, she also learned a few things about herself that she'd rather ignore...and as she begins another year at Darkwood Academy, more and more secrets start popping up, as well as a strong anti-cloning she's definitely got her hands full. And that's all while she's still trying to juggle her feelings for Ollie after finding out that he was alive all this time.

I absolutely LOVED this book. I'm not usually a huge fan of sci-fi since it often contains so much world building and technological information, which usually ends up confusing me and distracting me from the reading process. However, that definitely wasn't the case in both THE SIMILARS and THE PRETENDERS -- I tore through these books and could barely put them down to be productive at all, because I always wanted to know what was going to happen next! I haven't felt that gripped by a book in a long time, especially since I've been so stressed with school and work and senior year, so it was such a great feeling to fall into a great story and just feel the irresistible urge to keep reading through all hours of the night.

My favorite character in this book was definitely Levi -- I fell more in love with him now than I did in THE SIMILARS! Even though he's definitely more dark and brooding and dramatic than Ollie is, there's always been something in me as a reader that had a soft spot for the brooding characters (usually the villains!), so it wasn't a total surprise to me, LOL. So every time he was mentioned, I definitely felt myself swooning a little bit!

(SPOILERS IN THIS PARAGRAPH -- SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH TO AVOID THEM!) The ending of this book definitely blew me away as well. SO much happened in the last 100 pages that I wasn't expecting -- Rebecca Hanover is definitely the queen of throwing in plot twists that totally blow your mind! All of the stuff with the Duplicates -- and Emma and Levi and Seymour and the island and the ending, which I'll all keep vague so you read the book yourself! -- truly kept me on the edge of my seat. I definitely didn't see it all coming, and it left me so stunned that I even texted Amber afterwards because I just HAD to talk about my shock!!

Overall, I really loved reading THE PRETENDERS! If you were a fan of THE SIMILARS, or you haven't started either book yet but just want a good sci-fi duology to pass the time, I'd absolutely recommend this one. There was enough of a difference from the modern world to give it a sci-fi feel, but it also felt very grounded in a contemporary setting. Plus, there are mysteries, puzzles, romances (!), and plot twists galore, so you're bound to find something that you love when you pick up these books. Hats off to Rebecca Hanover -- she successfully blew me away once again! 


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