Friday, January 11, 2013

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead 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 hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

With palpable drama and delicious craft, Nova Ren Suma bursts onto the YA scene with the story that everyone will be talking about.


I've had Imaginary Girls sitting unread on my iPad since last summer. I admit, it was the cover that drew me in. And after having read the book, I think the cover is even more amazing because it fits the story so well. It's absolutely beautiful, yet somehow eerie, and picks up a lot of elements from the book, like the white dress and the red ribbon.

I'm having a hard time making up my mind about this book. Maybe that is because it was so different. Usually, you can draw a clear line between contemporary and paranormal/fantasy in YA fiction. With this book, you can't. While there are supernatural aspects, they are neither explained, nor the main theme of the story. The main themes in my eyes are such things as trust, manipulation, loss... It is a character-driven novel that revolves all around Ruby, who is beautiful and captivating and bursts with energy and can make everyone do whatever she wants. Sometimes, she is such a sweet older sister to Chloe, looking out for her and having fun with her, but then there's her other, manipulative, selfish, and sometimes downright evil side. Chloe, on the other hand, trusted her sister blindly at the beginning, and only slowly came to question her behaviour.

None of the characters were particularly likeable, but that did not stop me from being fascinated with their twisted, rotten relationships. This novel often made my skin crawl with unease, it made me shiver, and it was delightfully eerie. Until the end, you could not really know what was real and what was just in Chloe's mind, whether the stories Ruby told her were true or just invented. It is for the reader to decide what he or she wants to believe because Chloe is not the most reliable of narrators.

One issue I had was the lack of plot. In this respect, it is very much like a contemporary novel; it focuses on relationships. And while those evolving relationships were sometimes enough to pull me in and keep on reading, I also felt like sometimes (especially in the beginning) it was a bit repetitive. The underlying creepiness and mystery was definitely there, but sometimes, I wished it had been even creepier and more mysterious.

To conclude, this is definitely a different book out there amongst all the YA fiction, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys character-driven, eerie and dark books. I would not recommend it for those who need romance in their YA, because the romance stays very much on the sidelines.

My rating: 

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