Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bookanista Thursday: Imaginary Girls

The first time I saw this cover, I knew I had to read IMAGINARY GIRLS.  I had no idea what the story was about.  But this...

I can't think of a more hauntingly beautiful cover.  At all.  And it's so perfect for the story of Ruby and Chloe, two sisters bound by blood, water, and the secrets that lie beneath the surface.

Goodreads 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.

My Thoughts:

Nova Ren Suma is brilliant.  This is one of those books that's difficult for me to review because it has a palpable magic to it, but I can't figure what exactly it is, or how she's done it, because every aspect of this novel is so beautifully executed. 

The Plot

The story of Ruby and Chloe unravels slowly, layer by eerie layer, through sharp prose and haunting images.   We're pulled along with Chloe as she returns to her small town, promised by Ruby that everything can go back to how it was before London Hayes was found floating in the reservoir.  Only it can't, and we realize it little by little, as Chloe does.  This isn't an action-packed, fast paced story, but Suma creates such an eerie tension you'll be turning the pages as quickly as you possibly can because you HAVE to know what in the world is going on.  Which brings me to...

The Writing

Suma's writing is subtle and nuanced, the images she paints sharp and elegant.  All of these things come together in perfect balance to create a world where the impossible is possible, and we accept it in the same way Chloe does.  It's reminded me of the magic realism of Isabel Allende, but it's unlike anything I've read.  Just masterful.

The Characters

Chloe has lived her life mostly in the shadow of the definitely mythic Ruby, but she shines in her own right.  She's a character I fell into easily--admired and feared Ruby with her, felt her need to step out of the intense and sort of twisty relationship with her sister, and needed, more than anything, to untangle the mysteries swirling around at their feet.

Ruby is a force to be reckoned with.  She lures and scares at the same time and is so boldly drawn it's easy to understand the loyalty and devotion everyone who comes into contact with her seems to have.  But as otherworldly as she seems, she's not invincible.  Her faults and her devotion to her sister make her very real, and though she holds everyone but Chloe at a distance, these things give the reader something relatable about her.

The Reservoir and Olive.  There's no question in my mind that these are characters.  The water in the reservoir and the town beneath it live and breathe.  They watch.  They haunt.

I've written this review ten different ways, trying to capture the things that are so perfect about it, and I don't think I can do it justice.  This is a book I will buy, read again, tell anyone who will listen that they have to read it, but oh so politely remind them that they'll have to get their own copy because I won't want to part with mine.  And they can do that June 14th!

Also, this Bookanista Thursday would not be complete with out a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Elana Johnson and her debut POSSESSION!!!

If you want to see what the other Bookanistas are up to this week, check out their blogs: 

*Special Note--you SO want to see what they're up to, because they've got a very special surprise for a very kick-ass Bookanista.  But I won't ruin the surprise.  Go see!

Elana Johnson and  Stasia Ward Kehoe savor Bad Taste in Boys
LiLa Roecker celebrates The Summer of the Bear
Christine Fonseca has got a surprise for a Bookanista buddy (ooh—curious?)
Beth Revis  interviews Blood Magic author Tessa Gratton
Carolina Valdez Miller enjoys a special celebration
Bethany Wiggins is crazy about Delirium
Shana Silver sings praises for Starcrossed
Jen Hayley applauds Possession
Veronica Rossi hails Hereafter
Carrie Harris glories in Texas Gothic
Megan Miranda gushes over Imaginary Girls


  1. So well said. The book is haunting and definitely sticks with you for long after. Such a beautiful book.

  2. Great review - I so want to read this book. I've not heard a bad thing about it

  3. I so agree. Nova is brilliant and this book is beyond haunting! I loved every moment of it!

  4. This cover is BEYOND GORGEOUS. I want to read so, so bad.