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  • ARC Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
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  • Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  • Review: Karmic Hearts by Jhing Bautista
  • Review: The Conspiration of the Universe by Kenneth Olanday

Monday, August 8, 2011

ARC Review: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

I can't find the right words to describe Nova Ren Suma's debut novel.

I'm at a loss for words, really.

Title: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
Pages: 352
Release Date: July 2011
Published by: Pier 9
Source: Publisher (thanks Ashlea!)
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository

Summary (from Goodreads):

'Ruby said I’d never drown - not in deep ocean, not by shipwreck, not even by falling drunk into someone’s bottomless backyard pool...It sounded impossible, something no one would believe if anyone other than Ruby were the one to tell it. But Ruby was right: The body found that night wouldn’t be, couldn’t be mine.’

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.

Before I write anything else, let me just say that Nova Ren Suma writes beautiful prose. Her words will entrance and enthrall you, hypnotize you into a world she has crafted through her words.

I have a sister. A wonderful, older sister like Chloe does, who has done things for me that only an older sister will do. Like what Ruby did for Chloe, raising her when their mom was never around to do so. My sister is also as different from me as I was of her, like Ruby was with Chloe. But try hard as I might, Imaginary Girls might be a step above what I can comprehend. Because even if I have an older sister, my relationship with her was as different as Chloe was with Ruby.

Chloe was as obsessive of Ruby as Ruby was as obsessive of her. It's a very unhealthy, scary, and precarious relationship. I keep getting the feeling that even if Ruby was "loyal" to Chloe, she'd also be the first person who'd stab her sister when she gets the chance. Their relationship revolves mostly just around the two of them, not really leaving any room for anyone else to get in. And Chloe thinks so highly of her sister she overlooks all the strange things about her. Will an older sister make you swim through a reservoir you know you couldn't swim?

I still have mixed feelings over Ruby. She's one of the most complex characters I've ever read about, and it's hard to say what I really felt about her as a character. Chloe owed her a lot but Chloe growing up with just Ruby in her life didn't help her much at all in the long run. I do feel bad for Chloe because she deserves so much more. A family. A normal relationship with a boy. Love. Some genuine feelings that isn't as destructive as what she has for Ruby. But she has to learn to step out of Ruby's shadow and live her life the way she wants to.

The lethargic pace of Imaginary Girls is a perfect way of making the story creepier, more frightening and more intense as you pass through the pages. Imaginary Girls crossed over the contemporary genre to something else entirely, and Nova was able to make both genres collide and blend well in this book.

Nova's writing is great. Her words paint vivid pictures of life in a small town, of heavy tension between sisters, the kind of drama that can put you down and greatly affect you effortlessly. Undeniably, there is depth in Nova's writing. Maybe it's something that not everyone can understand. Until now I felt confused over a lot of passages, wondering if I was missing something I should've seen, or heard, or read. Or maybe there's something in reading about two unstable characters. Chloe is not the best narrator there is, and it's not helping how she's always been the shadow of her sister.

The ending though, definitely, deserves a second look. Readers will keep wondering. I haven't been this puzzled in a long time, or bothered with a book's ending. But even at the last moment, Nova Ren Suma makes her writing and novel memorable. Filled with mystery, intrigue, a hint of fear, Imaginary Girls is a surreal read. It's not something that is easy to digest, or comprehend, but there is beauty in it.

Content (plot, story flow, character):

Shining: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!

Book Cover:
Fantabulous cover!

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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