Author: Nova Ren Suma
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile (a part of Penguin Group)
Release Date: June 14, 2011
* Picked up at ALA Midwinter.
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.
You know that I'm a sucker for a gorgeous cover--which Imaginary Girls certainly has--but I wasn't too sure, at first, if I'd love the plot. It's paranormal, yes, but in a way that almost reads like a contemporary. That sounds like it might be a bad thing, but trust me, it's not. If anything, it just means that the world Nova Ren Suma created is just that close to realistic paranormal; so subtle that, at times, you can imagine Ruby and Chloe's world as being real. At least, that's how it was for me.
The reservoir plays a huge role in Imaginary Girls and it's evident from page one, when at age fourteen Chloe tries to swim the length of it. It's colder than it ought to be and just when it's at its coldest, she finds a rowboat to grip onto. And in it? A dead girl. With that discovery, everything changes as Chloe is sent to live with her father after the incident and for two years she has next to no contact with Ruby until three weeks before school lets out. Suddenly Ruby is waiting for her in the trailer that Chloe has been sleeping in and shortly after, Chloe is on her way back to her real home with Ruby. Everything is back to normal, or so it seems. But on her first night back home, Chloe sees her, the dead girl and everyone can see her too. Ruby tells her that she's fixed everything, but just what does Ruby mean?
Seriously, that's a reservoir not to swim in. As Ruby tells Chloe, there's still a town in there called Olive and its residents are still in residence, living in the murky waters that were once their home. But enough about that, I can't say much more without getting all spoiler-tastic on you and you know how I try to avoid that. I think my absolute favorite scene in Imaginary Girls has to be about the balloons. Not the ones at the birthday party, but the ones that Ruby ties with red ribbons. I can't tell you why though, only that you'll hopefully understand why it's my favorite once you get there.
When it comes to the characters in Imaginary Girls, I did like Ruby (and in my head, I see her as Zoey Deschanel, although I'm not entirely sure why) who seems to constantly wear sundresses and motorcycle boots. Maybe it's her attitude that I like; she doesn't care about what other people think--well, asides from her sister Chloe, who she loves very much (as in, would do anything for). Chloe on the other hand, I didn't dislike, but I wasn't in love with her either. She really loves Ruby and idolizes her sister, there's no doubt about that; but at the same time, she's probably the only person who rebels against Ruby. I won't get into the guys in Imaginary Girls, but that's mainly because this isn't a romance. (And for that, I must say, "Poor Pete!")
Imaginary Girls is about the bond between two sisters and as such, what Ruby would do for Chloe. More importantly, it's beautifully written and sucks you in. Not precisely a page turner, but a book that you'll want to savor (like an excellent meal or a fine wine). With that, I think I've said all I can say on Imaginary Girls. If the plot appeals to you, definitely give it a go; I can't imagine that you'll be disappointed.
Overall Rating: ★★★★★