I realized, lately I’ve been posting nothing but book reviews. I’ll try to change this next week.
TITLE: The Identity Thief
BY: Alex Bryant
SERIES: God Machine #1
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Middle Grade
PUBLICATION: February 29th 2020 by K&M Books
NOTES: I received an e-ARC from the publisher/author via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book in any way.
A shapeshifting sorcerer called Cuttlefish unleashes a terrifying wave of magical carnage across London. A strange family known as the River People move into Cassandra Drake’s neighbourhood. Are the two events connected?
Spoiler alert: no.
The Identity Thief surprised me in so many aspects and it made me stay up all night reading it.
Imaginative and engaging…
Imagine London but very dark — that’s where I was while reading The Identity Thief. It is set in London but with magic exist though forbidden and feared for its usage has great consequences. Magic is in form of sorcery and though there are bad witches, there are bad ones and the worst of them all is Cuttlefish. I admit the name cuttlefish is somehow over the top for me but it fits the character who is a major trickster. He shapeshifts, taking forms of anyone he can use to get his hands on the books of sorcery that he needs. And in his hunts for these books, he leaves chaos and fear in his wake. His goal for what he’s doing, achieving the God machine, is somehow ridiculous but still, that’s just make the story more imaginative.
In this alternate London, there’s a group especialized in catching anyone who deals with sorcery. I was really fascinated how brilliant Cuttlefish crimes are, how he can fool everyone he talks to. I’ve read books with shapeshifting as magic before but in The Identity Thief, this kind of magic is really used well. It made me wonder so many times if the scene I’m reading has Cuttlefish in it, are the characters are really who they are? Also, one of the places the story is set is in an old mysterious house standing beside a cemetery. It’s really atmospheric that more than I few times, I was anxious someone will jump out from the dark to make me scream.
It seems like there’s two world in this book. One is Cassandra dealing with her friends in school, some family stuff, including her mom’s insistence that they befriend the new neighbors known as the River People, which she doesn’t like at all, and the other world is Cuttlefish and his crimes. As the blurb said they’re not connected. Well, in some way, they are and you would guess about it, thinks like you’d guessed right, and then at the end, the blurb is still right. They shouldn’t have been connected.
Anyway, at first, it seems like these two worlds shouldn’t be together in one story. All throughout the book I was wondering what will make the two worlds connect. And I thought maybe it’s because of Cass’s mother, Helen, who is the head of the special group especialized in catching magic users. But no, it’s more than that and I like it. And wow, the reveal with River People is amazing.
So cryptic and mysterious and gripping. I swear if The Identity Thief is a movie, I’d be jumping every five minutes. That’s how effective the storytelling is. It’s so thrilling. But there’s also humour and it’s equally surprising. Like the humour is too eager to be part of the story so, amidst the thrill and scares, it squeezes itself to be known to the reader. There are scenes where you think it’s scary but it’s not. You know, like things moving but turns out it’s only a spider. I have a favorite funny part. There’s a part where two people are talking about some guy they’re suspicious about as Cuttlefish. (Remember: Cuttlefish take the forms of other people) And one of them blurted out how ugly the suspicious guy is and that’s his first impression. Okay, it’s not funny to call other people ugly but the delivery. The delivery is priceless.
Also, the story is told in different ways – narratives, POVs, articles (social media posts, newspaper clippings, excerpts from books). For some people, this can be confusing but for me, it makes the story more engaging and intriguing because I was never sure what kind of chapter I’m going to read next. Aside from that, it avoids info-dumping. It certainly helps with the backstories.
The main heroine, Cassandra is very unlikeable. She’s not at all relatable for me, and characters like her and her friends are the reason why I’m not a fan of Young Adult. But I don’t think her character is very realistic. She’s only 12 and that seems too young but when I think more about it, it’s the age where the social peer pressure starts. But that’s not the only reason why I dislike Cass, what I hated the most is how she treated Hector. Ah, that kid Hector. My heart cries for him. He is a son of the River People and is new in school and wow, the bullying. Up until the end, I really wanted Hector to use sorcery just to punish them all. He has issues but Cass was too much and she acts like she knows everything.
But despite that, I was invested with Cassandra which means her character is really done well. All the side characters are also well-developed. There’s not one of them I will forget, that’s for sure. Even the ones with the slightest role are unforgettable but of course, my favorite, aside from Hector, is Cuttlefish himself. He makes every page thrilling even if he’s not part of the scene. It’s like his presence is always there. Like I said, he shapeshift so you’ll never really know if he’s with you. And the reveal in his character is really good.
RATING: 4.5 blissful pages with lilies
Before 2020 started, I set a new rule for my star rating – I won’t give perfect ratings unless the book gives me complete enjoyment. Technically, I don’t have any issue about this book and I really enjoy it a lot but my enjoyment wasn’t complete because of Casandra. She really annoyed me at times thus a half-star less from a perfect rating.
Have you read this book? Or planning to? What do you think of it? Let’s chat.