Published by: Dutton Juvenile, June 14 2011
Genre: Young Adult
Format/pages: Hardcover 352 pages
Format read/Source: ARC via LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Date read: May 1 2011
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Imaginary Girls is author Nova Ren Suma’s powerful and eerie young adult debut. It is a contemporary book about the bond between sisters, but it’s also a paranormal mystery. It takes place in a town with a dark past where magical things happen. This is a creepy book with a dark, fairytale quality. It’s an atmospheric, rather than a thrill a minute type book. Even so, the story hooked me and I was eagerly turning pages. And this is certainly one of the most striking covers of the year so far. Imaginary Girls is an original and impressive debut.
The main characters, sisters Chloe and Ruby, live in a small town in upstate New York. Fourteen-year-old Chloe has always been looked after by her older sister Ruby. Ruby is beautiful and wild and seems to have hypnotized the people of the town into giving her anything she wants. Without seeming to try, people bend over backwards to try to please her. Chloe lives in Ruby’s shadow, but she is the apple of Ruby’s eye. The sister bond is challenged, however, when the death of a classmate occurs at their reservoir hangout. Chloe leaves to go live with her father and after two years Ruby comes to claim her. When Chloe returns, she finds that her classmate is alive, and everyone is behaving as if the death at the reservoir never happened. Their powerful sister bond is tested when Chloe starts diving for answers to explain these strange events.
The book portrays the close, complex relationship of sisters. Well, a very intense portrayal of sisterly bonds anyway. They have always had to rely on only each other due to absentee parents so Ruby is everything to Chloe. Ruby is larger than life and her character dominates her sister’s life as well as the town. Chloe disappears when Ruby is around, but is able to connect with people more when she is on her own. I was wondering what the mystery is behind her power.
The story has a nightmarish and suspenseful quality that reads like a horror film. There are secrets and gossip and strange occurrences in the town that make it seem like a creepy place to live. The people that live there and even the sisters can come off as remote, unsympathetic and unlikable at times. This gave me an uneasy feeling throughout the book as I tried to find that connection to the characters.
Imaginary Girls is beautifully written and is creepy and unique. It should appeal to those that like ghost stories and mysteries. This haunting book is dark and intense, with a pace that may be too slow for some readers. Recommended for older teens due to the subject matter and adult content. Looking forward to reading more from this author.
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