Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Review: Imaginary Girls - Nova Ren Suma

Published: June 14th 2011, Dutton
Pages: 346 pages, hardback
Series/standalone?: Standalone
Acquired: Purchased myself

Summary (from Goodreads): 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.

My review: Really, instead of actually trying to put into words how Imaginary Girls made me feel I should probably just post the following image and leave it at that:

However, I think I should probably explain myself.

Further down in this post I suggest you read Imaginary Girls if you enjoyed The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides (and if you didn't enjoy it, why the hell not?) and I really did find the two books to be similar in tone and style, though not in content. There's something hazy and retro and a little bit creepy about the world Suma creates for her characters and I adored it. I just know if Imaginary Girls was made into a film it would be a hipster's dream, you know?

I keep writing paragraphs for this review and then deleting them. I can't quite get into words exactly what I want to say about this one. I did leave my breathless and now, a few days later, I still can't get the story straight in my head. Imaginary Girls will play with your mind and seep into your subconcious, especially Ruby. What a character. She's just...unreal. Part of me hated her but she's infectious and alluring and a little bit dangerous, such a brilliant creation.

For me, Chloe almost represents the reader, as she spends a lot of time watching, taking things in, quietly absorbing everything around her and I think her voice was excellently executed. The writing in Imaginary Girls is absolutely stella and it felt like every single sentence had been pored over and rewritten again and again until it was completely perfect. Because it is. Perfect, I mean. The prose reminded me a little of how Lauren DeStefano writers in Wither, which is high praise because, damn, that was some good writing.

I know I give the plot of Imaginary Girls 4/5 in the rating but, honestly, I don't really feel like I should comment on the plot as I still don't have much of a clue about what actually went on in the story. Once I hit the last forty or fifty pages I just sat back and accepted that I was completely at the mercy of Ruby and Olive and everybody and everything in Imaginary Girls.

And thus, my mind was blown. Obviously I'm not going to give anything away but the last few paragraphs are fantastic, so subtle but really powerful. Disorienting and beautiful, Imaginary Girls turned my mind upside down, I loved it.

First line: 'Ruby said I'd never drown - not in the deep ocean, not by shipwreck, not even by falling drunk into someone's bottomless backyard pool.'

Read if you liked…: The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides

Plot: 4/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 3/5
Cover: 5/5
Total: 17/20 (A)


  1. Another for my wish list. It sounds bizarre and brilliant. Is it bad that I really want this for the cover too?

  2. Nooooo I hated Virgin Suicides, but I think that's cos I watched the film first and couldn't get it out of my head when reading the book. This is on my tbr and I can't wait to read it! I will get round to it soon!

  3. I think I've always been a little bit on the fence about reading this one and now I think I'll add it to my wishlist. (again. It's been a real back-and-forth with this one)

  4. I didn't know what to expect when I started reading IMAGINARY GIRLS and honestly, I'm glad I didn't. This book is packed with haunting moments that took me by surprise and chilled me to the bone.

    Many time, I pick up a book because of it's beautiful cover. And IMAGINARY GIRLS has one of the best I've seen. But I will add this, it didn't do the book justice. Honestly, I'm not sure anything would have. I think... maybe they should have slapped a white cover on it with fat black letters that read: This book will blow your freaking mind. Then maybe it would have worked.


Thank you kindly for the comment, you sweet thing.