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2.5 stars This is the first time that I ve considered NOT rating a book I felt, and still feel, like whatever number of stars I might give are not going to truly reflect my opinion nor do Imaginary Girls any justice.So keep in mind that my rating in this case is just the result of a mathematical addition of factors, of things I liked and didn t like.The story is, in a nutshell, a mystery It s difficult for me to give you a synopsis of the plot, but suffice it to say it involves a mysterious reservoir, two sisters morbidly obsessed with one another, a dead girl in a rowboat and a series of unexplainable events.This is one of the most distressing books I have read this year or, probably, ever and all I feel is that I just did not get it Let me make some comparisons that might help you out If it were an artistic movement, it would be Surrealism.If it were a movie, it would be a David Lynch movie.if it were music, it would be jazz.Disturbingly creepy, oneiric, harrowing and full of suspense, it kept me on the edge until the very last pages The word predictable does not exist in this author s dictionary, I ll give you that much But that the long awaited climax was, in the end, so anticlimactic distressed me very much For about 80% of the book I could not figure out, for the life of me, what was happening and why I was expecting some paranormal element to give an explanation to all my questions but, in the end, there wasn t It was just all surreal The strong points of this book are, objectively, the amazing writing style and characterization The writing is exceptional and evocative and, thanks to that, some of the characters, Ruby in particular, come out well formed, palpable and yes, disturbing The fact that I could not find one likable character in this book though, really detracted from my enjoyment Not only I could not justify the absurdity of some of the actions of the characters, but I could never, not even at the end, sympathize with any of them view spoiler with the exception, maybe, of London, whose sole guilt in the whole process was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time hide spoiler 2.5 The extra half star mostly for the cover.Interesting premise, but it failed for me in large part for one reason I hated Ruby And this is a novel that needs you to believe in the beautiful magic of the most narcissistic, vicious character I have ever read Suma spends so much time in the beginning telling me all about how wonderful Ruby is instead of showing me anything, that the Chloe went on about how charming her sister was, the I couldn t wait for her to wake up and realize how reckless and controlling she was Alas, she never does She just keeps trying to convince me otherwise.But that s not the only reason the novel bothered me Suma never sets up or develops her scenes She throws you in the middle of it and then waits until after you re confused to give you description For example, there s a scene where her and London are standing in the village green and London shouts at her if she s coming, only after the dialogue does Suma explain that London is in a car that wasn t there before The whole novel is like that and after awhile it wore on me always trying to figure out what was going on Without developed scenes, nothing fully happened, just the shadow of a scene here, the hint of something happening there, nothing than all these little questions that come up so that by the end I wasn t sure if all of my questions had been answered It was so frustrating to read, I almost quit a hundred times.My biggest frustration is Suma kept getting in the way of the story, purposely stopping me from funding anything out to create the sense of mystery A few discoveries to pique my interest or a bit of wonder from Chloe would have gone a long way to pull me into the story Chloe never wondered why strange things were happening, or if she bought into them, explained to us why she didn t need to ask the right questions And if she ever did get close to asking them, Suma interrupted the scene to keep us from finding anything out I understand the feel of magic, the mystery that Suma was going for, but she went about the wrong way creating that eerie feeling I never quite worked up the ability to suspend my disbelief when Chloe never worked up a sense of wonder herself There were times when she showed hope of trying to figure out the mystery of what Olive and Ruby where doing to the town, but then she d settle back into her content oblivion and I was left with all my questions.The most interesting line in the novel was the statement that just maybe Chloe was locked up in PA imagining all of this I wish that had been expounded on I like that there s a hint of magic without a firm resolve and I loved the eerie quality of the story, but I d rather Chloe had been a little proactive, to be amazed or confused or anything other than merely enthralled with Ruby and trying to convince me to be the same There was a lot of promise in this novel Suma shows some talent with words With easy edits I could have loved it Maybe Suma s next novel will be better developed. OK, I think I m finally ready to review this properly Deep breathI didn t like this book.I know, I know, it has four stars and may even deserve five, but I didn t LIKE it It hit too close to home, and I m having trouble working out a way to discuss that without laying my own crap out all over the internet in gruesome and excessive detail.I m going to have to approach this obliquely, I fear.Long ago, when I was first became a parent, I read a lot of parenting books One idea in particular hit me hard so hard that I can t even figure out where I first read about it, the source got knocked right out of my brain That idea was differentiation.Differentiation is the process by which children learn that they are different people from their parents I realize that sounds both trivial and obvious, but it s not It usually happens in stages a child begins to realize things like Oh, I like olives and mom doesn t, and that s ok because we re different people or Sometimes Daddy is WRONG It s basic boundaries building This is mine, THAT is yours, we are not identical and that is as must be For some people, believe it or not, this process doesn t quite manage to happen Sometimes a parent is so self centered, needy, and or charismatic that the children can t or won t pull away that s what I see, laid out starkly and grimly, in this novel Ruby has been Chloe s default parent Chloe can t tell where she ends and her sister begins Ruby is such a narcissist she encourages this They re a cult of two, and Chloe never manages to break free.The magic realism, or surrealism, or however the nightmarish imagery should be categorized, serves to amplify this dynamic It s the psychological made literal, the mind turned inside out And it s not like Chloe doesn t see the discrepancies between Ruby s domain and naked reality She absolutely sees them, and they bother her a little bit.But not enough to break free Even with Ruby dead and I mean, is she Certainly if you gauge by Chloe s psyche, the answer has to be no , there is no escape for poor Chloe.And that, I think, is the crux of my dislike The book was well written and compelling and creepy, and you should absolutely read it, but the ending made me want to punch holes in the wall I want to howl and burn things And yes, there is personal history wrapped up in my reaction, and no, I m not explaining it in any detail than I did in my status updates It s a hard book A bullying book, compelling you to read even when you hate it Worth the time, and worth the heartache, but I have to keep reminding myself that escape is possible, even if Chloe didn t want it. I had heard that this was a strange book, but whoa I do love weird, though In a world where we get the same old, same old when it comes to books and movies, it s refreshing to get a truly original idea Something that breaks the mould and isn t afraid to stand on its own Imaginary Girls is all about Ruby Ruby is the girl no one seems to be able to say no to She gets what she wants, when she wants it, no matter what She has everyone tried around her fingers, and every boy stumbling over their feet to do her bidding While this sounds like it could be a fairly annoying character and to be honest it was at first it s also kind of fascinating It s made obvious that this ability of hers is bizarre, unnatural And the love she has for her sister borders on dangerous I was definitely creeped out by her behaviour throughout She comes off as a sort of beautiful, irresistible evil Then we have Chloe who likes to believe she doesn t always do as her sister asks, but she does Because to Chloe, her sister is everything She s like a magical being and Chloe would do anything for her Because that s what sisters do Then we have a 3rd character who s not a person, but a town called Olive that is now submerged under a reservoir This town comes with a lot of old tales and legends, many told by Ruby These stories are full of sadness and loss, but also of wonder and magic Whether Chloe believes in her sister s stories about Olive, there is no doubt something alluring about the reservoir It s as if it was alive, as if people really still were living down there in a submerged town, going about their lives under water Asking, demanding, calling out It s both mesmerizing and undeniably eerie This atmosphere is brought to life with a writing style that is evocative and vivid She can set a scene perfectly with wondrous imagery, and characters that come alive with a turn of the page As it can be with magical realism novels, many things are left to our imagination I was expecting a twist that would make everything clear, give everything a reason, but there isn t You just have to accept this is what it is In the end, I can t say I was completely satisfied after turning the last page Still, it s the kind of ending that is full of hope, wonder, and shows the true meaning of unconditional love So in a way, even if much of it remains a mystery, it s quite beautiful, albeit in a sad way For of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads She smelled of deep, dark things and untold secrets and all of what she was keeping from me Gah, Nova Ren Suma does it again Just rip my heart out and stomp on it while you re at it, why don t you It came as no surprise that I loved this absolutely stunning, bizarre, and deliciously creepy book after loving the author s The Walls Around Us Suma writes about some of the weirdest darned things like, say, ballerinas who are serial killers.In the beautiful, whimsical Imaginary Girls, Chloe is living in the shadow of her popular, gorgeous older sister, Ruby One night at a party, Ruby dares Chloe to swim across the reservoir Chloe makes it halfway across before she discovers a rowboat and inside of the rowboat is the body of one of her classmates, London Hayes.I can t even begin to describe the gorgeous, fairytale like quality that is Suma s writing I could read her wonderful sentences over and over The strange, dreamlike, chilling plot became twisted the I read I got so caught up in Chloe s story of how she always felt invisible next to Ruby Everyone knew her as Ruby s little sister The only time boys talked to her were to ask her questions about RubyIn reality I was a pencil drawing of a photocopy of a Polaroid of my sister you could see the resemblance in a certain light if you were seeking it out because I told you first if you were being nice The surreal mystery was a wonderful mix of paranormal and small town secrets Suma blurred the lines between reality and paranormal in a way that totally worked for me As Chloe tried to figure out what happened at the reservoir, she slowly felt like she was going madI could see her smile I wished I hadn t because it was the kind of smile she never gave to me It was a smile for a boy who wanted to know her and never would A smile for a girl who wanted to be like her and never could be A smile for a perfect stranger Imaginary Girls was just so weird and imaginative and perfectly thrilling This is my second book by Nova Ren Suma and I can t believe how underrated she is Her writing is like nothing I ve ever read before. Let me just get this out of the way from the start I m really notsurehow I feel about this book The evocative, eerie, captivating writing which is somehow, at the same time, simple in its wording, is not dissimilar to the style of Margo Lanagan The way this book made me feel queasy and annoyed, while still making it impossible to put the book down, was not dissimilar to Margo s books And I usually find myself feeling a very similar mix of emotions after reading one of Margo s stories.Shoujo commented when I finished the book and asked if I loved it I didn t know what to tell her, but if Margo s books are any kind of judge, when the smoke clears, I will Absolutely Without a doubt This is a tale about obsession, and about the power that older siblings have over younger siblings, told from the point of view of an unreliable narrator I loved that about it I loved the voice of the story, and how the novel itself seemed to dote on Ruby, while I brought my external prejudices to the table, and read a different story to the one that Chloe thought she was telling And I do think this is a story best read with as little info as possible While I have done my best to properly tag, or just avoid spoilers, please consider that before reading on Things definitely annoyed me about this book, but not in a the author did this poorly way Ruby was a spoilt brat and not a likeable person But, well, I guess if everyone falls under your spell, and the only people who see through it are people who would hang of your every word anyway, you can t HELP but be vile Chloe isn t just Ruby s little sister, she s her willing slave He looked down and wiped sawdust on his pants Then he looked up into my eyes Do you make her breakfast in the morning I asked Some mornings And iced coffee the way she likes it Yeah, sure Sometimes Do you answer the phone when it rings so she doesn t have to Do you make her popcorn on Wednesdays Do you do her laundry and hang out her dresses to dryThere were times that I really hated Ruby Times where I raged at the book, because she had such STRANGE double standards, and I wondered WHY Chloe couldn t see through herAt least there s that, Ruby said As for you, Chlo, we ll talk later, after view spoiler London hide spoiler Pennsylvania was a strange state No one knew who Ruby was.Should you like me love beautiful, dream like writing and glittering, complex characters who constantly hover just outside your grasp in a gray area between evil, half good and plain crazy, yet do not mind not getting solid answers at all, there is a serious chance for you to fall for Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma.I read the eerie, eerie debut novel featuring a tight, strange bond between two sisters, a siren like femme fatale clutching a whole small town in her fickle fingers, an alcoholic, hippie mother, some sexual awakening, some painful growing up and growing a conscience, a caring father, deaths, ghosts and hot, lazy summers with a Goodreads group of German Girls Reading English Books thank you, girls, for voting for this gem as our January group read without you it would be still gathering dust on my Kindle and I was delighted by the rich multitude of explanation possibilies the plot offered as our order seeking minds tried to press the book into a fitting genre corner and to make sense of heroine Chloe s subjective narration Although only a dozen readers went into discussion, a colorful palette of constructions presented itself and almost all ideas sounded quite sound Drugs, dreams, traumata, split personality disorders, deal offering monsters, paranormal gifts that are limited geographically, even painfully staged pretenses of paranormal gifts to mislead and mind control the heroine To me, personally, Ruby came across like a twisted and dangerous, yet somehow caring variation of Mary Poppins I am not exactly sure why Probably because of her spontaneity, her cheerfulness, her firm reign, her randomly offered secret bits and pieces from her personal Knigge, or simply her magnetic personality The book which Imaginary Girls reminded me the strongest of is my beloved Chime which is not for everyone either Since Franny Billingsley is so slow in producing another masterpiece I can blissfully roll around in, I am happy when something remotely comparable in style turns up to entertain me in between.You see, I am rather reluctant to issue a general recommendation, but I also do not want to leave my positive rating uncommented and my praise unuttered You might be disappointed or frustrated, but you might also miss something unusual and great. Imaginary Girls leaves me feeling the way I did after seeing Donnie Darko and Virgin Suicides for the first time ever Picture me utterly confused at times but mostly unnerved and slightly creeped out Donnie Darko is my favorite WTF was that movie while Virgin Suicides was my first how sad but twisted one That Imaginary Girls had me feeling both things sometimes simultaneously is quite a feat Needless to say, Imaginary Girls is different and I liked it Who else has come across those posts on manic pixies Ruby is almost like one of those except she s so much Yes, she s the beautiful, mysterious girl and has everyone enad with her But there s something sinister to her I kept waiting and waiting for the book to reveal precisely what had my skin crawling but what she was is never clearly defined One thing is certain though, she isn t one dimensional And if I had to label her the villain, I d hesitate to do so She simply loved to deeply and completely and in the end view spoiler selflessly hide spoiler {FREE E-PUB} è Imaginary Girls É 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 started reading this book in June JUNE I finally finished reading it last night Admittedly I liked Imaginary Girls at first like the first couple of chapters then almost immediately it was all I could do to finish one page every time I picked this book up The story is not that interesting The writing style is irritating and pretentious It feels as though author goes out of her way to say things in the most roundabout way, in a way that s meant to be artsy and poetic I wouldn t go so far as say the prose are purple ishbutyeah almost Plus, I didn t like the older sister, Ruby, which is sort of a huge problem because a lot of the story has to do with the MC s Chloe hero worship of said older sister Hate is a strong word, but I m willing to go so far as say I HATE Ruby She sucks And while I can understand Chloe s allegiance to Ruby, I still think she gives her sister way too much control over every aspect in her life And the worst part is she does so gladly That wouldn t be so bad if at the end of the novel things had been different But, no, I didn t get the sense that Chloe was a better person by the end of the novel, if she d learned some sort of a lesson If anything, she s regressed And that s really sad So, while I do think the cover is STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL, and like the fact that this is a standalone with an original premise, I still do not like this book I don t know who I d recommend it to No one, probably But if you re wanting to read this, don t let my review stop you Read Imaginary Girls if you feel compelled to do so Who knows It might be just up your alley 1.5 stars.