Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Review: Imaginary Girls

Imaginary Girls, by Nova Ren Suma. The summary:
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.
First off, I really liked the writing style, that’s for sure. It was crisp, but at the same time haunting and beautiful. And I enjoyed the paranormal element of the city of Olive submerged in the reservoir, with its population of people who refused to leave and by sheer power of will managed to survive underwater. And even more than that, I love the uncertainty of Olive--it’s never quite clear how much is true of the stories Ruby tells about it and the things Chloe imagines. And I really loved the idea that Ruby could control a whole town through sheer force of will. There’s a part where she tells Chloe that it’s not magic, and it really isn’t--it’s Ruby being Ruby. Ruby’s one of the strongest, most unique characters I’ve read about in a while.

But two things tripped me up with this book. I’m pretty sure the author did them at least semi-intentionally, but they bothered me all the same. The first is Ruby’s relationship with Chloe. I think it’s amazing that they have such a tight, close relationship, but at the same time I found it a little . . . creepy? Like, Ruby’s doing what she’s doing to protect Chloe, but it’s so controlling and stifling. And it’s worse because Chloe doesn’t seem to notice. She’s so wrapped up in Ruby that she doesn’t care that she’s not living her own life--she’s only living the one Ruby wants her to live. Which leads me to the second thing that bothered me: Chloe isn’t much of a character. It’s like she’s only an extension of Ruby and only exists as a vehicle to tell Ruby’s story. And, I don’t know, I just think main characters should be more memorable than that.

Overall, I definitely recommend this book, but it’s not one that I’m going to be reading again and again. It was kind of a disconcerting read, and it never really left me feeling satisfied. That would usually bug me, but since I have the feeling that’s what the author intended, I’m okay with it.


  1. Oh thank goodness.. you are the first review I have read that said their relationship was creepy, and that's totally how I felt. I coudn't finish this one.. it just wasnt' my cup of tea. Like you said, the writing was style good, but I just didnt care about the characters.. so I put it down..

  2. Great review! I'm been on the fence about reading this book.... but I think I might give it a try! Congrats on winning my giveaway :) I sent you an email to get your address and information? Did you receive it?


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