Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

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Review: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren SumaImaginary Girls Published by Speak on June 14th 2012
Genres: Magical Realism, Mystery, YA
Buy on Amazon

I had heard that this was a strange book, but whoa! I do love weird, though. In a world where we get the same-old, same-old when it comes to books and movies, it’s refreshing to get a truly original idea. Something that breaks the mould and isn’t afraid to stand on its own.

Imaginary Girls is all about Ruby. Ruby is the girl no one seems to be able to say no to. She gets what she wants, when she wants it, no matter what. She has everyone tried around her fingers, and every boy stumbling over their feet to do her bidding. While this sounds like it could be a fairly annoying character – and to be honest it was at first – it’s also kind of fascinating. It’s made obvious that this… ability of hers is bizarre, unnatural. And the love she has for her sister borders on dangerous. I was definitely creeped out by her behaviour throughout. She comes off as a sort of beautiful, irresistible evil. Then we have Chloe who likes to believe she doesn’t always do as her sister asks, but she does. Because to Chloe, her sister is everything. She’s like a magical being and Chloe would do anything for her. Because that’s what sisters do.

Then we have a 3rd character who’s not a person, but a town called Olive that is now submerged under a reservoir. This town comes with a lot of old tales and legends, many told by Ruby. These stories are full of sadness and loss, but also of wonder and magic. Whether Chloe believes in her sister’s stories about Olive, there is no doubt something… alluring about the reservoir. It’s as if it was alive, as if people really still were living down there in a submerged town, going about their lives under water. Asking, demanding, calling out. It’s both mesmerizing and undeniably eerie. This atmosphere is brought to life with a writing style that is evocative and vivid. She can set a scene perfectly with wondrous imagery, and characters that come alive with a turn of the page.

As it can be with magical realism novels, many things are left to our imagination. I was expecting a twist that would make everything clear, give everything a reason, but there isn’t. You just have to accept this is what it is. In the end, I can’t say I was completely satisfied after turning the last page. Still, it’s the kind of ending that is full of hope, wonder, and shows the true meaning of unconditional love. So in a way, even if much of it remains a mystery, it’s quite beautiful, albeit in a sad way.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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8 Responses to “Review: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma”

  1. Melissa

    I’ve heard about this book a lot here and there and thought that it sounded weird and right up my alley. Love magical realism. I’m definitely bumping this one up the list!

  2. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’ve heard so many good things about Nova Ren Suma’s writing, Giselle, but I have yet to read anything by her although I do own some of her books.
    This does sound really weird and the way you described the setting and the characters has me eager to pick it up. I’m very curious about this ending too.
    Lovely review! 🙂

  3. Melanie (YA Midnight Reads)

    I’m very glad that you enjoyed this, Giselle! I’ve read some negative reviews on her books but I seriously love her writing style–and totally loved 17 & Gone. I haven’t read this one, and the magical realism aspect has me curious, so I’ll move it up the TBR!

    Lovely review as always, girl <33