IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Red Suma
jacket flap blurb
Chloe’s older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can’t be captured or caged. After a night with Ruby’s friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers a dead body floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away—away from home, away from Ruby.
But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back,a dn when Chloe returns home at last, she finds a precarious and deadly balance waiting for her. 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.
Surreal. Captivating. The cover perfectly encompasses the book. Imaginary Girls is…hard to explain. It’s intriguing, it draws you in right from page one and doesn’t let go. For most of the book, we’re led along by curiosity and by the beautiful, eloquent writing.
But I didn’t like the end. And that kind of ruined the book for me. The entire book felt like it was leading up to something, but then that something never really came. It was anticlimactic. So much of the book was strangely, wonderfully subtle, but for some reason the climax was also subtle. And it shouldn’t have been.
That being said, I still loved the writing in the book. It was gorgeous and metaphorical and amazing. And Chloe and her older sister Ruby were such interesting characters, and even though Ruby is, well, Ruby, I think Chloe was more interesting. Her relationship with her mother was background music, yet there was just enough to give you a sense that things turned out okay in the end. I felt like Suma could have done more with Chloe sort of, in a way, becoming Ruby. There was a little of that, a little where I felt like Chloe was filling Ruby’s shoes. Her realizing she really did look like Ruby, her having a tingle of Ruby’s power over others. I think that could have been fleshed out, in a way, and if Chloe grew to take Ruby’s place it would have been even more surreal.
I kept waiting for a supernatural rationale behind the stuff going on with London and Olive (I loved, loved, loved the town of Olive and the reservoir. It was probably my favorite part of the entire book) but that explanation never came. But I don’t think that was an issue. I liked it, actually, and I think the only reason it itched at me when I finished was that the climax was so anticlimactic I started looking for something else to make the book feel complete and landed on finding an explanation, which wasn’t there. If the climax had been more powerful, the lack of explanation wouldn’t have bothered me at all.
Another thing that made it feel incomplete was Chloe’s relationship with her father and her father’s family. I felt like they should have been mentioned again at the end, like some sort of conclusion of their power over Chloe and relationship to her should have been provided. But there wasn’t one, and that’s definitely an issue.
I can’t tell you how much I loved the reservoir and loved Olive and loved all of Ruby’s stories about Olive. I want to rate this book higher, just for Olive and the reservoir, but it just didn’t feel complete when I got to the end.
rating out of five stars
Worth a read for the language, the reservoir, and Olive, but in the end, not completely satisfying. Lacks the feeling of completeness (not in the way that the first book in a series does, that’s a different sort of incomplete).
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