Book Review: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Imaginary GirlsPublisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publishing Date: June 14 2011
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Paranormal
Format: Paperback
Page count: 348

My rating:

4 of 5 hearts

Imaginary Girls is the tale of Chloe and her amazing-for-no-reason older sister Ruby. Ruby has this certain power she can exert over people – she can get them to do whatever she wants, almost like hypnotism – without even trying. It sounds like a paranormal novel, but it’s not, because I know a girl exactly like Ruby except  instead of her always breaking up with her boyfriends because she grows bored of them, they end up breaking up with her because they get tired of her shit.

Ruby and my friend are very similar: my friend is beautiful, can get any job she wants (so long as it’s waitressing or bar work because she isn’t qualified for anything else), has all the men twisted around her little finger and has spent the last six years failing to get her degree because she never goes to exams or hands in assignments. Boys buy her Ipads and go out of their way to give her rides (because as if she would get her license at age twenty-four!) even if they’re not dating her and buy her all the alcohol she wants (which is a lot because she has nothing going for her but her looks, much like Ruby) and pay for her flights to go visit them for a weekend of sex or a week in Rio de Janeiro or a few weeks in Venice or whatever… and the only thing they get from her is the pleasure of her company. However Ruby’s power only works in her small town, which is why she is loathe to leave it, whereas my friend’s power works anywhere in the world.

After Chloe stumbles across a dead body floating in the reservoir, she is sent away for two years to live with her estranged father. Ruby comes to collect her after that two year period – exactly when Chloe is becoming more of a woman and more like Ruby every day. Chloe returns to her small town to discover that Ruby’s manipulated just about everyone into believing something different happened, and things only get creepier from there. I don’t want to say much more about the plot because of spoilers – you’ll just have to read it for yourself.

Chloe was an interesting if bland character to follow – the love story here is obviously the relationship between the two sisters. Ruby would literally do anything for Chloe – except she does very undedicated things like forgetting to pick Chloe up and forcing Chloe to live in a half-built house right next to the reservoir, and then expecting Chloe not to go anywhere near it. I understand Ruby was supposed to be amazing but I saw through that – I think everyone is meant to. Chloe obviously adores her sister and is simultaneously jealous, in awe, and a little frightened of her big sister. Chloe’s whole life revolved around Ruby as well, even when she was trying to keep secrets from her. It was a very dysfunctional relationship.

While Ruby was there to protect Chloe, she was obviously pretty sheltered. Chloe saw glimpses of the truth when Ruby’s ‘power’ faded, and I would have been interested in seeing more ‘real world’ stuff rather than ‘Ruby’s world’. It all makes up for a pretty unreliable narrator and I’m still not entirely sure what the truth is. I think that’s the appeal of this novel – nothing is ever confirmed, it’s all ‘Ruby said’ and we all know how manipulative Ruby is. That being said, the novel really does allow your own interpretation of the events and this is what I liked.

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About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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