Sunday, November 13, 2011

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Please note that this is posted for our Mock Printz discussion and may have spoilers and pertinent plot points discussed.

The first time I read Imaginary Girls I was struck by how tense the atmosphere was. It was creepy and there was an ever-increasing feeling of dread. It felt a bit otherworldly maybe? Only because you know Ruby has some sort of power, but what that power is exactly is or where (or who?) it comes from is mysterious and murky.

On my second read I picked up more on the intense pressure that Chloe is under to stay on Ruby's good side. For all she tells us that she's the only one that Ruby really loves, she's awfully quick to make sure she doesn't have to find out the alternative. Chloe also regularly informs us that she doesn't always do everything Ruby says. She tells us this over and over and over until finally on page 217 when she finally admits that she does, in fact, do everything Ruby says. It is at this exact point where Ruby shifts in Chloe's perspective and starts to get downright menacing.

Because, let's not fool ourselves, Ruby is cruel. She uses people to her own ends. Picks them up and discards them at random. Seemingly forcing them to do her will. Some of it is just manipulation, no special powers needed (like getting the boy to drive to NYC to get her cheesecake), but then she does seem to have powers over London. She suggests something and London does it. People seem to worship her in a way that isn't quite natural, even for a mean-girl ruler of the town.

What was the real catalyst for the change in Chloe's perspective? Was it the two year separation where Chloe was free from Ruby's influence? Was it Owen, the boy she's always liked and been forbidden to have. Was it London's closeness with her sister? Or was it the memories that are fighting their way to the surface?

So what makes this book special? In my mind it is the ever-growing sense of dread the starts at the beginning and increases through the book. The scene where Chloe gets closer to the town line the talk becomes increasingly crass and mean about her sister and London starts to get vicious until they become physical and then London just completely disappears and no one notices but Chloe was one of the spookiest, creepiest scenes I have ever read. Truly there is a sphere of influence that Ruby is able to control and that sphere is shrinking.

This author can turn a phrase too. The writing was downright beautiful at times. And really fresh.

“I remembered a night two years ago, on the rocks at the edge of the reservoir, a night I’d stuffed up in a paper bag crumpled up inside a sock that I’d balled up and shoved far in the back drawer of my mind, where the worst things go.”

What could have been improved? Frankly, I would have liked a little more tie-in with the stories of Olive. They were totally freakin' creepy and I liked them, but every time we came up to an Olive story I couldn't help but feel there were parallels that were "supposed" to explain things...but didn't actually explain them. While the author had me convinced that Ruby had a sphere of influence, she did not convince me about the people of Olive. And that made me a little sad. I really liked thinking they were down there.

Overall, I think it is a good book. I am not sure it held up as well on the re-read as I would have liked.

Mock Printz Titles:

A Monster Calls - Patrick Ness
Between Shades of Gray - Ruta Sepetys
(Patti's review)
Berlin Boxing Club - Robert Sharenow
(Patti's 1st review)
Blood Red Road - Moira Young
(Patti's 1st review)
Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor
(Joanna's review)
Divergent - Veronica Roth
(Patti's 1st review)
Everybody Loves the Ants - A.S. King
(Patti's 1st review)
Flesh and Blood so Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Legacy - Albert Marrin
Imaginary Girls - Nova Ren Suma
Where Things Come Back - John Corey Whaley

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