Saturday, September 08, 2012

Review: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Title: Imaginary Girls
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release date: June 14th 2011
Pages: 348
Genre: YA; mystery
Source: Bought
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Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be contained or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby. But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has deeply hidden away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Dude. This book TRICKED me. Tricked me into reading something... I don't even know what. Paranormal? I'm not sure what Imaginary Girls is, but it's not contemporary. The description makes it seem like it's contemporary with a little magical realism, and the book does start out that way, but then it gets weirder and weirder and turns full-on supernatural. It's sort of ghost-story-y (I know, great word), but not really.... WEIRD is the only way to describe it. But however weird this book is, the weirdest thing is... I kind of loved it.

Nothing much happens for the most part of Imaginary Girls - I couldn't sum up the plot if I tried. But that doesn't mean it ever gets boring. Nova Ren Suma's writing is gorgeous and completely distracted me from the non-existent plot. The atmosphere Nova Ren Suma (yes, I'm gonna be repeating her full name all over this review because how awesome is that name!?) created in her novel is... I don't even know how to describe it; it's unlike anything I've read before. It's super-creepy and eerie and downright scary. I don't normally love all that supernatural stuff, but I kind of love how it made everything in Imaginary Girls even more scary. I had no idea what was possible in this world, what these... forces, I guess, are capable of, and that made it even more terrifying. 

The characters, like everything else about this book, are hard to explain. When I tried reading Imaginary Girls as a contemporary, assuming all of this takes place in our world, the characters didn't really work. Ruby is, let's face it, a total bitch, and I thought the whole everyone-is-obsessed-with-Ruby thing to be overdone. It bugged me how much spineless Chloe centered her whole life around Ruby. But once I got used to the idea that there's something supernatural going on, that Ruby isn't just the average beauty queen but has some kind of magical powers, it totally works. Once I got into the supernatural element, I understood why Ruby has such a hold on everyone around her. There's something mesmerizing about her; much like the rest of the characters in the book, I was put under Ruby's spell. I still didn't like her, but she had some kind of power over me. And I guess that's the point.

I did feel that the ending was lacking something. I kept wanting some kind of resolution, some kind of explanation of how all of this works. But I guess that's just my used-to-contemps brain - I still think within the borders of our world's logic, which doesn't work with a book like this. But I also kind of love the wistful, unfulfilled-hope type of feel of the ending. It lets us feel like Chloe does, still fascinated by Ruby's power without really understanding any of it.

Yes, I'm aware that this review doesn't make all that much sense. But that's kind of how I feel about Imaginary Girls - I can't make sense of any of it, but I know it's good. It has lots of elements that I wouldn't normally like, but somehow, it works. If you like dark, weird, creepy books, you should definitely give Imaginary Girls a try.

Also, here's a shout-out to whoever designed Nova Ren Suma's covers - aren't they GORGEOUS? This cover perfectly captures the creepy feel of the novel. And the hardcover is just as amazing - I might just have to buy a copy of that one, too, so I can have both beautiful books on my shelf....


  1. Oh, I loved Imaginary Girls. You're right- there's no way to sum it up, and my head felt really messed up once I finished reading it, and that's AFTER reading so many supernatural books that I've lost count. The magical realism aspect of it comes from the fact that nothing is explained- there's no name for what Ruby is and no pseudo-science regarding the reservoir. I suppose that's the greatest thing about magical realism- the reader can dream and make their own conclusions. Great review


    It sounds incredible. Though I have to say that without your review I would have passed it up.

  3. I've been hearing this was a mind-boggling read, and I honestly love books like those! Glad you enjoyed this and thanks for the review. :)

  4. This book sounds surreal and I love that it's one of those books that just can't be explained. Definitely adding it to my TBR, it sound mysterious and amazing.


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