Normally, I don’t give much credence to the author blurbs they put on front covers. Just because one best-selling author writes something nice about the book doesn’t mean I’ll like it too. However, when I saw that Aimee Bender’s name was on the back cover of Imaginary Girls, I got kind of excited. I very much admire Bender’s prose, her plot construction, and her style of magical realism is flawless. Therefore, I came into this book with certain expectations, which Nova Ren Suma fulfilled very well.
Yet at the same time, I didn’t love this book in the way I wanted to, even though it has everything I wanted and more.
The primary focus of Imaginary Girls is the bond between sisters. From the get-go, the bond between Chloe and Ruby is obvious. At times, I would say their love for each other (or, at least, Ruby’s love for Chloe) borders on obsessive and unhealthy, yet I still found it beautiful in its own way.
Suma’s writing is good. I’d probably go so far to say that it’s great. There was a fluidity to her prose that was quite gorgeous. However, I found that Suma’s style lacked a sort of push—there was no driving factor compelling me to read futher. Technically speaking, I think Suma’s style is more suited to a slower-paced type of novel, rather than an edgy magical mystery story.
The magic element was definitely very cool. The backcover blurb doesn’t give much away, and I think that’s probably for the best. The full effect of Imaginary Girls is best felt when you don’t see it coming. Certainly, I think the surprise was the most interesting part.
Imaginary Girls is a book that, outwardly, does everything right. Overall, I’m impressed with Nova Ren Suma as an author and I think she has considerable talent. However, for one reason or another, I just couldn’t get into this. There’s an indefinable something that turns a good book into a great one, and Imaginary Girls, sadly, just didn’t have that something.