Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Date: June 14, 2010
Series or Standalone: Standalone (as far as I know)
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
First line: Ruby said I'd never drown--not in deep ocean, not by shipwreck, not even by falling into someone's bottomless backyard pool.
There are some books you have to think about when you finish them because the only words can you think of to say come out as sounds and squeals and bouts of joy. Imaginary Girls is one of those for me. (One of many lately!)
The story begins when Chloe is fourteen. She and her older sister Ruby are at a party and Ruby tells everyone Chloe can swim across the reservoir. Rumor is there used to be a city under there--and all the remnants lie just on the other side. Chloe, who lives to please her eccentric, perfect sister, swims across and stumbles on the dead body of a girl. Freaked from the whole incident, she flees her sister and the town they grew up in. Two years later Ruby comes for Chloe. When Chloe goes home again, she is thrust into a dark and twisted and completely unreal mystery that could send her over the edge.
I liked so many things about this book; the writing is the first thing that stole me. It's beautiful and resonant and the images are painted with perfection. Fine and sharp images, tones, hidden layers that you can't help but swoon over. Seriously. This one had sentences that made imprints on my soul. I will be haunted by them forever.
The voice is the other thing that sticks out about this story. Chloe is insecure, awkward, flawed and so strong at the same time. She's real. Her time away from her sister has changed the way she views her--which in the beginning is perfect and flawless, and toward the end is a little aware that Ruby isn't quite right. She's very open to the things that are happening, even when she doesn't understand them. Ruby, too, is so vivid. I went from wanting to smack her to wanting to commit her to completely admiring her. That's hard to do for a character who isn't the MC. But it works so well here. I'm drooling.
The story is one that you can't predict. You just don't see it coming! I mean, most of the time I was in love with what was happening and other times I was so confused by what was going on. Whatever it was we weren't told and Chloe wasn't told and we're both just there, watching it all happen and wondering. I love that. There's a tension from the first line that hints to something bigger--something stranger than we can imagine--and there's no way to know what it is. The tension grows as the story goes on and you can't stop reading the book. It's a great story about the bond of sisterhood and the lengths one will go to save someone they love. It's about seeing someone for who she really is and not being scared to see the flaws along with the good. I think I can say Imaginary Girls is a book about the impossible--the impossible that exists in the world, in those we love most, and in yourself.
It was gripping and stunning and there was never a dull moment. If there was I was too enthralled with the writing to notice it. Nova Ren Suma weaves the supernatural element with contemporary, hope with despair and joy with sorrow. I can go on and on about this book. I was so frustrated at moments because I wanted to know, I wanted to see and understand Ruby. I wanted to solve the mystery. When the answer is given, I want only to ask the questions again. To keep wondering. And, honestly, I think I still am wondering. There's a whole world that Nova Ren Suma has left open for us and questions that we get to think about. That alone will keep this hauntingly beautiful story playing over and over in your head.