Review: Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma

Publication Date: June 14, 2011
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Reading Level: Young Adult
Pages: 348 (Hardcover)
Source: Bought
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.
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

Recently, I picked up this novel as part of a book club that I am now participating in here in New York City. Me and a few other bloggers meet up once a month to discuss a book that none of us have read that we decided to read as a group. Our very first pick was IMAGINARY GIRLS. Naturally, I was extremely excited because of the hype around this novel. People told me I would have no idea what was going on, but that it would be completely awesome. Well, I honestly had no idea what was going on and because of that it was completely not awesome.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for confusing plot-lines. I love when a novel isn't predictable and it doesn't reveal to me what is going on until the very end. But that's the thing about this never truly revealed what was going on. I worked my way through a novel that arguably frustrated me immensely only to never have any of my questions answered. In fact, the ending left me with more questions than I had in the very beginning. While I know this writing style appeals to some (just look at all the rave reviews about this novel on Goodreads!) it does not appeal to me, at all, though the prose were admittedly beautiful.

I was initially fascinated by the magical realism aspect of this book. It's rare that I encounter such a genre since it tends not to find its way into the books I read. My first experience was a novel whose title is escaping me, but it revolved around an older sister who was a mermaid. She had her beautiful, flowing green hair and light blue skin, but lived among her normal family in every day life in Mexico. This magical creature was simply there. I suppose this novel was a different kind of magical realism. While Ruby, the magical creature of this novel was there, what she was is never revealed and her powers and abilities are never really explained or examined properly.

In regards to the plot, I can't really explain much to you. I tried describing it to one of my friends and she asked me if I was okay because I sounded high. Really, this book made me feel as if I was high because nothing made sense. A gorgeous older sister that runs the town and gets everything she wants. All she has to do is release a pretty balloon into the wild with something she wants handwritten on it and she'll get it. A girl that died that was inexplicably brought back to life, yet doesn't exist outside of the town lines. People who have gut instincts to fear this wonderful Ruby, yet can't help but be enamored by her because they are under her spell. But, again, I want to know what she is. She was born to a human mother, so what about her father? She can bring people back from the dead, so is she a necromancer? She can control people with her mind, so is she a telepath? She has an entire town within her control and under her spell, so is she a witch? That's literally all I want to know. She's some type of convoluted creature that makes no sense and it's driving me up a wall because I was never told what, exactly, she was.

This also contributes to the fact that I have a strong dislike for the main character--Ruby's younger sister, Chloe. Deep down in her gut, Chloe knows that Ruby is bad, yet she follows her blindly and feels indebted to her anyway. She fears not being with her or angering her because it was always Ruby and Chloe. Chloe doesn't have her own identity, she is known because of her relation to Ruby, and everything is made ten times worse by the fact that she acknowledges when she is out from under Ruby's weird grasp and she runs back to it and embraces it anyway. Girl, get your head on straight! The only people who like Ruby are the ones under her spell (yourself included even though you refuse to acknowledge it) and even the entire town secretly hates her, as evidenced when they escape town lines.

The ending was predictable to me. The second the author chose to focus on miniscule details like who certain articles of clothing belonged to, I figured out what was going to happen. It further frustrated me that this was so obvious to the reader, yet Chloe couldn't figure anything out until it was too late. So, obviously, this book and I just weren't meant to be. It frustrated me in unimaginable ways and I felt as if I was slowly wading through a vat of mud to get from the beginning to the end. Suma's writing style truly is beautiful and, in the very beginning, I was enraptured, though that quickly fell apart. With that in mind, I would be willing to pick up the author's next book, I'll just be very careful about it and approach with caution. I'm unsure if her writing style and I don't click, or if it's just the way she chooses to tell stories that doesn't click with me. Either way, I seem to be the black sheep with this one, so I hope everyone else can enjoy it.

Warning: This book contains sexual instances, underage drinking, drugs, and mild language.

1.5 stars 



  1. You are definitely not the only black sheep for this one, I also really disliked it... I gave it two stars. I thought I missed the complete point of the book when I finished it because it seemed that everyone loved it! I loved the writing style though, the story... ugh. I hated Ruby, HATED her. I also thought the ending was predictable also! Awesome review :)

    1. Yeah I thought I missed the entire point, too. I was like what did I actually just read, though?! And don't even get me started on all.

      Thank you so much for commenting (:

  2. Ggreat review even though you didn't like it...

  3. Loved the writing so much but I'm not generally a fan of magical realism. In this book, I think those elements prevented me from really connecting with or caring about the characters. Will definitely try another of her books, though...

  4. AHH! I won this with my copy of Scars and Stardust and didn't think much of it but the cover is pretty. I think i'll shelf it for awhile. Thanks for this informative review