As Bookanistas, we can only recommend/review books that we love, so sometimes it takes a while to find just the right books for our Thursday posts. We have to read a lot. So it's such a relief when I come across books like IMAGINARY GIRLS; I knew within the first few pages that this was a book I would want to recommend. I'd been captivated by the cover when Nova Ren Suma first revealed it, but it doesn't take long, a few lines maybe, before you realize you have something special.
IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma
Summary: 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.
I read IMAGINARY GIRLS almost entirely in one sitting. I was mesmerized by this book. The writing won me over first--so impossibly beautiful and sharp and resonant, every line leaving its mark on you long after you've moved on to the next and the next. But closely tied is the voice, which grabs hold of you from word one and just doesn't let go, not even after you close the book. Chloe is perhaps one of the strongest, most vivid narrators I've had a chance to read, insecure and awkward, flawed and tunnel-visioned in her devotion to her sister--yet not blind to the strangeness of the events around her. In fact, she's more than aware of the abnormality of the life she's sucked into as she reunites with her sister Ruby, a startling character with an intense, free spirit and beauty; and it's Chloe's consuming curiosity that will unravel the threads of Ruby and Chloe's tightly-knit world.
But things don't just come undone in one untimely moment. From the very beginning, you know that there's something dangerous lurking beneath the surface--of the reservoir and of Ruby's exterior. And from there, the intensity just doesn't stop. It's not that there's an insane amount of action. There's just this tension that builds and builds as the mystery grows bigger and bigger, and before you know it you're racing through the pages because you have to know what's going on. You just have to--just like Chloe who can't help but dig and dig even though it might mean exposing an uglier side of the one person in the world she loves most. It's such a gripping story. I whipped so fast through this, never a dull moment, but it wasn't the action that drove the pace; it was Nova Ren Suma and her masterful delivery.
I don't know that I've read anything like this in a long time. It reminded me a bit of Isabel Allende's House of Spirits or even Gabriel Garcia Marquez' One Hundred Years of Solitude. There was a strong sense of the supernatural weaved into the story as if it's just the way of things, a second plane of reality, that while questioned perhaps, doesn't jolt by virtue of it being magic, but rather shakes things up because of the consequences of it. That's the beauty of magical realism: it throws something not quite normal at you, but you sort of just run with it. You quickly get over the hurdle of the supernatural, accepting is as a part of the reality (because Chloe does). But while the subtle magic holds the eerie plot together, it's the relationship between the sisters that really drives the story and pulls the reader in. Their intense bond serves as the catalyst for the story and in an incredible twist, forces the unexpected resolution. IMAGINARY GIRLS is a fast, but haunting read, beautiful and intense throughout.
IMAGINARY GIRLS will be available June 2011.
Be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are highlighting today!
Click here to join The Bookanista Book Club at The Reading Room where you can check out all the books we're buzzing about!