Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. After a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrongand Chloe discovers a dead body floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away -- away from home, away from Ruby.
But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns home at last, she finds a precarious and deadly balance waiting for her. As Chloe flirts with the truth Chloe has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complicated bonds of sisterhood.
Imaginary Girls is a masterfully distorted vision of family with twists that beg for their secrets to be kept.
~Print copy, 346 pages
Published: 2011 by Penguin Group USA
I didn't particularly enjoy this story, and I didn't hate it especially. It was somewhat... forgettable, in my lonely opinion.
Chloe is completely dependent upon her sister, Ruby. Ruby is the mysterious, beautiful, and manipulative girl who can control the entire town. Enough to make people come back to life.
When Chloe is 14, she swims in the reservoir, fully intending to reach the other side and come back. But halfway there, she finds the dead body of a girl named London. The way the book is written, I believe Chloe was freaked out enough to leave their tiny town to go live with her father, though the summary there says she was forced.
Anyways, two years later Ruby shows up and says Chloe should come back. So Chloe does, and when she arrives in their small town, home again at last, she sees London. Alive.
As the story goes on, Chloe comes to realize just how much control her sister really has over this town.
One thing I disliked about this book was Chloe. She was so dependent. I felt like she had no thoughts of her own, or if she did, they were petty things meant to lash out at her sister's sudden rules. Things like sleeping with a guy Ruby doesn't approve of, smoking in a cemetary, dipping one toe in the water of the reservoir that Ruby specifically told her never to go near.
I have an older sister and two younger sisters. None of us are quite that dependent on each other. True, our mother isn't an absent drunk like Chloe's is. But still, I just cannot connect with such a level of dependence on each other.
I felt this would've been a better book if written from Ruby's point of view. She was a much more... fleshed out character. You know what I mean? More alive. Chloe felt like a weak, diluted version of reality.
I liked the writing style, though. It was... on the border of colloquial and proper English. The incohesive way a person thinks mixed with better grammar. It made the whole book seems mysterious and incohesive even as it made perfect, linear sense.
There is swearing and vague mentions of sex. Not gory detail or anything, just mentioning that she did have sex. Not my cup of tea, you understand. Yea, it's a part of teenagerhood, thanks to stupid society, but I personally plan to do neither. Ever, or at least not any time soon.
Some of this also felt a little contrived. I put it down two nights ago (as I'm writing this post, on Saturday) and I forget the general places where I found such contrivances, but I remembering thinking, that was pure chance. What would've happened if that hadn't happened? Would this have made the story better than it is now?
I didn't mind the world-building. There are mentions of how the town is laid out, the mountains nearby, it's up North, etc.
The most detailed part of the world is the reservoir, though. Ruby has been telling Chloe of how New Yorkers bought the land from many towns to make the reservoir, but one town refused to leave. This town stayed there, even as the water came rushing in, and now they were all still alive at the bottom of the reservoir, refusing to give up, refusing to leave. This is a major plot point and a pretty decent one at that. Mysterious, undead towns at the bottom of a reservoir? Awesome.
So, I liked Ruby, the world, and the writing. I disliked the swearing, the contrivances in places, and Chloe. This is a sort of so-so book. I give it a three.
[As a side note, the edges of Hurricane Sandy are about to hit us (today, on Monday). Our power might flicker out for I don't know how long. No school today, though! Meep! :) And my cat had three kittens last week: one of them is a runt, so I'll be busy hand-feeding it some artificial milk, as well. This all amounts to, I don't know if I'll be able to post on Wednesday or not.]