Ashleigh Paige

I'm a full-time college sophomore pursuing my B.A. in English with hopes of one day working as an editor. Cats, musicals, documentaries about cults/disasters/tragedies, and curse words are just a few of my favorite things. Also, check out our blog or I WILL FIND YOU.

Imaginary Girls

Imaginary Girls - Nova Ren Suma Also appears on The Screaming Nitpicker.After the strange death of London Hayes, Chloe left her beloved older sister Ruby and went to live with her father in Pennsylvania, but these two sisters can't be kept apart forever. How could anyone dare to keep such close sisters apart? Two years after she left, sixteen-year-old Chloe returns to Ruby and the town she knew as home for so many years, but the reservoir, Ruby's influence over people, and so much more clue Chloe in on the fact that something is wrong. The secrets of what happened two years ago are hiding just beneath the surface, but these may not be the kind of secrets Chloe can safely dive for and find.There nearly wasn't a review for this book. Upon finishing it, I couldn't find the words to describe it to others in a way that would be accurate or make them seek out Imaginary Girls like I want them to. After some thought, I decided to make myself review it because this is the kind of book to be talking about, the kind I have a duty as a reviewer to spread word of so more people will read it. If I want to say, "Don't read Halo or Hush, Hush or Born at Midnight, they're terrible books," I've got to have something to tell someone when they inevitably ask, "Then what should I read?" This is one of those books.Chloe, like many complex characters, is difficult to put into words when explaining her. Often unreliable as a narrator, almost everything is about Ruby with her from beginning to end. I didn't always like her and she often made me feel uncomfortable, but she is interesting and I can't deny her merits as a character. The codependent, obsessive, yet oddly compelling relationship the two siblings have is the strongest point of the novel. For anyone familiar with manipulative people or behavior like I am, it's clear from the beginning what kind of person Ruby is. If one is unfamiliar, they'll come to see just how manipulative she can be as the novel goes on, using everyone from ex-boyfriends to her own little sister like they're puppets.The novel isn't necessarily plot-driven or character-driven--at least, I didn't think it was. What I felt really drove the novel was Chloe's smooth narrative voice, which kept me reading just so I could see what else she had to say. While a reader's desire to learn more about what's going on and figure the surreal world within the town will keep them reading too if the prose isn't enough for them. As one friend of mine who was reading it at the same time put it, the narration reads like a monologue, and it's so twisted yet so beautiful yet so unreliable and... And... Oh, screw it, let's get an excerpt in here to show you what I mean."When something big happens, you don't immediately point the finger at one person. A bridge collapses, and maybe that's what people call an act of God, not of the little girl in the backseat of a passing car wishing something would happen to keep her from having to stay the weekend with her creepy uncle. A plane loses its propellers and crash-lands on water, and no one blames the guy sitting in 13B who can't get a date and wants to die over it and doesn't care if he takes the whole damn plane with him."No human being could take credit for changing fate."Except for Ruby. (Imaginary Girls, p. 175)"Imaginary Girls is not a light, fluffy read. It's intense and creepy and something that won't easily get out of your head once you've finished reading and definitely not your average YA book. Depending on what you had for breakfast this morning, whether you think the glass is half-full or half-empty, what color underwear you're wearing, your general mood, and other small factors that probably have nothing to do with anything after all, you might choose to call this book contemporary, magical realism, fantasy, contemporary with a magical twist, paranormal, supernatural, and so much more. It's not an easy book to slap a label on, that's for sure.I do love it, but this definitely isn't going to be a book for all readers. If you don't like reading books that will creep you out, step away. (This might mean you, Kayla. Yes, you. Also, I hope you feel better soon. Getting wisdom teeth out sucks, huh?) Have trouble reading about characters you don't like but recognize as interesting or well-developed? Once again, step away. Willing to try any kind of book once no matter how gory, weird, or surreal it is? Step right up.Nova Ren Suma has successfully won me over as a fan. She has a middle-grade novel called Dani Noir that was published before Imaginary Girls and she's currently working on another YA novel. As soon as I possibly can (which may be a while, considering all the books I already own that are begging to be read), I'm going to read Dani Noir and my eye is on any and all news concerning Suma's next book. What kind of reader would I be to ignore the kind of talent she has? This beautiful novel is a must-read for anyone who isn't afraid of something that will be intense and oftentimes creep them out or confuse them.