Impostor Syndrome by Kathy Wang was one of my recent Book of the Month picks. The synopsis of was so intriguing! It follows a young Russian woman who has been recruited to become a spy for a governmental intelligence agency, and infiltrate a thriving tech company in Silicon Valley. Like I said, very intriguing right? Plus, it is a slow-burn book of espionage.
Julia was such an interesting character. She’s supposed to be this bad woman because of her involvement with the spy agency. Yet, I couldn’t help but root for her. I think of alot of this was because of the way she was presented as a female executive who still wasn’t taken completely seriously because of her sex. There is multiple discussions of sexism within Impostor Syndrome as well as the responsibilities of motherhood and loyalties to your work.
On the other side of Impostor Syndrome is Alice, who is the daughter of Chinese immigrants, and who works in the IT department at the company. Alice has struggled with success within the company even though she is educated and has the desire to prove herself. If she doesn’t succeed in the IT department, she is not sure what she is going to do except disappoint her parents some more. As part of the IT department, she often overhears and sees things within the company that others don’t. One of these things is the strange server activity which can be traced back to Julia.
With both Julia and Alice being women working in the technology field, they both experience various levels of sexism. Alice also has to deal with the occasional racist comment and a female boss (not Julia) who just doesn’t seem to want to set her up for success. I really enjoyed the interchanging dynamic between Julia and Alice because although one was trying to outsmart the other, you could tell there was an underlying level of respect for what they were trying to accomplish. I also liked that both woman made different decisions that led them to the path that they are on but, in some way both made a “deal with the devil” in order to try and get ahead.
Impostor Syndrome is a bit of a slow burn when it comes to the espionage. It’s there throughout but, it wasn’t what really captured my attention. The character development and the decisions which the characters made were what kept me invested. I found all the characters compelling, even Leo who is Julia’s Russian handler and who is caught between wanting to see Julia succeed in the position that she has made for herself and his own loyalty to the agency. All of this was so intriguing! If you enjoy your books to be even paced, character driven, and question the morals of society, companies, and individuals, this will probably be a really good fit for you too!
Rating: 4 Stars