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Imaginary Girls

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I read Imaginary Girls by our own Nova about a month ago. I thought it was great. Since then, I've read close to a dozen books - and the one I keep thinking about? Yep, Imaginary Girls.

It's haunting, the way it stays with you. Along with having the best cover of the year, this book has been one of my favorite reads of 2011. Good show, Nova!
#1 - September 06, 2011, 04:18 PM

ecb

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I just finished this, and I CAN'T BELIEVE there's not a six-page thread on this book here!! WOW.

Nova, I don't know if you're eligible, but this book would be on my shortlist for the Morris this year. :werd

Oh, and ETA: Can somebody tell me *WHAT* is on the back cover of this book? I see hair and fingers and can't make out the rest of the image.
#2 - November 18, 2011, 04:56 PM
« Last Edit: November 18, 2011, 04:59 PM by ecb »

blythe

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Don't know if Nova will stop buy the thread, but I just wanted to mention IG is on some early  Printz contenders lists. No wonder!  Nova isn't eligible for the Morris--Dani Noir (soon to be reissued as Fade Out) was her 2010 debut.
#3 - November 18, 2011, 05:22 PM

ecb

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But it was a middle grade debut; I don't know if they'll consider that a disqualification or not.
#4 - November 18, 2011, 05:52 PM

blythe

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I think it's for a previously unpubbed author. I think  Steve B wasn't eligible because he had done a lot chapter books as work for hire. The real point is that IG is an astonishing accomplishment.
#5 - November 18, 2011, 06:07 PM

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SPOILERS

I'm so glad others are here so I can ask questions. It's been awhile since I've read it, and I feel spectacularly lame asking this, but was this paranormal? It was so awesomely creepy and yet I couldn't put my finger on what, exactly, was going on. Was the main character crazy? Dead? Likewise, the sister? I feel so dumb asking these questions, but no one else I know has read it and I'd really like to read it again with a bit more understanding.
#6 - November 18, 2011, 06:38 PM

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This book was tricky to read, because the prose was so gorgeous and true that I wanted to linger on the pages, but the plot was so compelling that I wanted to keep turning the pages to find out what was happening next! Masterfully done.

TracyH, that's a good question about whether or not it's paranormal. I'd classify it as magical realism, in the vein of Gabriel Garcia Marquez--like a lyrical blend of fantasy and reality.

Loved this!
#7 - November 18, 2011, 06:53 PM
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ecb

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SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

To me, it's definitely paranormal. It has nearly the same premise as Jerome Bixby's 1953 short story "It's a Good Life," which y'all probably know better as the "Twilight Zone" episode with Billy Mumy.

The author may have a different take, but I definitely didn't think Chloe was crazy (as in, hallucinating the events in the book).

***

And Blythe, that is totally the point. Astonishing, and definitely worthy of awards buzz.
#8 - November 18, 2011, 08:10 PM
« Last Edit: November 18, 2011, 08:45 PM by ecb »

Mike Jung

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I tend to lean in the same direction as Natalie and classify it more as magical realism, but it does have a smidge of that paranormal vibe. And can I just say that I CALLED PRINTZ FOR IMAGINARY GIRLS BACK WHEN IT RELEASED, YO...

In all seriousness, it's an absolute stunner of a book. I love DANI NOIR (it's gonna take me a while to get used to FADE OUT), but I think Nova stepped up her game in a big way with IG. Which is saying a lot, because I really, really love DANI.
#9 - November 18, 2011, 08:13 PM

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MORE SPOILERS

Thanks for the feedback. I guess I'm unclear on where reality stops and magical realism begins. After she finds the body in the boat? What was it that drove her crazy?
#10 - November 18, 2011, 09:32 PM

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It's hard to categorize, because it felt like paranormal (not scientifically explainable) from Chloe's point of view, who seemed to be the only one who realized that odd things were going on. But it felt like magical realism (a blend of magical or fantastical elements with reality) from everyone else's point of view, who either denied that weirdness was going on, or thought it was the norm.

*****SPOLIER****
The point at which I realized for sure that Chloe wasn't just imagining things was when London drove them out of town and disappeared when they crossed over the town boundary. That, and when Chloe's cell phone was flood with all of her father's and stepmother's texts and voice mails that she hadn't received in the last weeks.
#11 - November 19, 2011, 05:33 AM
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*****SPOLIER****
The point at which I realized for sure that Chloe wasn't just imagining things was when London drove them out of town and disappeared when they crossed over the town boundary. That, and when Chloe's cell phone was flood with all of her father's and stepmother's texts and voice mails that she hadn't received in the last weeks.

This might have been the point where I was the most confused. I thought the weird things, up until that point, could be denied by the others involved. But once that happened, it threw me. I didn't understand the meaning of the town's boundary. It seems some people thought it was paranormal and others thought magical realism. It can't be both, right?
#12 - November 19, 2011, 12:27 PM

ecb

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***THIS WHOLE POST IS ONE BIG SPOILER***

Tracy, I don't think it's necessarily an issue of it can't be both magical realism and paranormal... but more an issue of "it can't be both MR/paranormal AND Chloe is just crazy." Either there is something really weird really happening, OR Chloe is imagining things. Magical realism and paranormal are both on the fantasy/speculative fiction spectrum, and where you set your definitions is really up to the reader/author to decide.

To me, it's paranormal because the weird/magical elements (Ruby has the power to manipulate reality, including bringing people back from the dead... and her power only works within a certain radius of herself/her home town) make up the plot, have rules, and ARE NOT CONSIDERED NORMAL by anybody. Remember when London and her friends are driving out of town (right before she disappears from the car), and they all start to complain about Ruby? That's your indication that this is not something everyone just accepts about their world.  Ruby is doing something to them, and they don't like it (even if they're powerless to control it).

In magical realism, the magical elements are just there, they're typically unexplained (nobody asks or wonders why that guy has giant wings), and the plot is usually something that does not hinge on those magical elements.

Obviously, there's no hard and fast line here, and I can see why this doesn't *feel* like a typical paranormal... because Nova did such a fantastic job of setting everything up. I mean, we should have been clued in earlier that Something Unnatural was happening, because obviously there was no reason on the planet anybody, let alone *everybody,* would even like Ruby very much... but we believed it all, because Chloe is such a convincing narrator. But the moment London shows up at Chloe's welcome home party, and Chloe doesn't think to immediately start asking all the logical questions (where are her parents? Didn't we have a funeral? Where's her grave? Maybe we thought she'd died, but she only OD'd, etc)... that's the moment you realize you haven't been reading a straight contemporary novel, and that you've been just as manipulated as everyone else.
#13 - November 19, 2011, 02:12 PM
« Last Edit: November 19, 2011, 02:20 PM by ecb »

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So glad to see others thought this was a fantastic book. I think Nova is super-talented. And Mike's right - although Dani Noir was a great book, and I enjoyed the unusual character and setting, IG is over the top.
#14 - November 19, 2011, 04:07 PM

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Thanks ecb, that really helps. I'm going to read it again.
#15 - November 19, 2011, 05:07 PM

Really interesting to hear your take on magical realism, ecb. I would've argued IG WAS magical realism because people in town DON'T question what's going on. Of course, they do the second they're outside the town limits. And I think Chloe is able to see more clearly than most what's going on because she's been away for a few years. But I think most people within the town think that's just the way things are, or they're powerless to really say or do anything against it. Not much is said about London's parents, but clearly they haven't been shaking much up.

My take was that it was magical realism, but only within the borders of the town. And that the power wasn't necessarily originating from Ruby, but from the reservoir, and she had figured out how to tap into that. So to me, it seemed a very elemental, natural-world magic.

Either way, a really intriguing book, considering that it can generate this much discussion!
#16 - November 20, 2011, 01:29 AM
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Annemleone - that makes sense to me, too. Now I've figured out why I was confused, I think. One minute I felt I was reading paranormal and the next minute magical realism. Because I couldn't ever put on one pair of shoes, per se, I felt uncomfortable, like the earth was constantly shifting beneath my feet. Then when I was finished, I wondered if that shifting was purposeful so that I was literally in chloe's shoes the whole time.

I like the idea of the reservoir being the center of things, but I'm still wondering if Chloe was dead. The whole two years she was with her parents were so vague and dreamlike. Like maybe she never really left. Maybe Ruby's larger than life abilities were powered by Chloe since that was what she always believed anyway.

I really thought I'd come here and there would be one answer. Seems everyone has their own interpretation. It's definitely worth reading more than once.
#17 - November 20, 2011, 11:59 AM
« Last Edit: November 21, 2011, 10:29 AM by TracyH »

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I loved IG, too. And I think one of the reasons for different interpretations is because Ruby is so manipulative on so many levels. She wants what she wants and will use whatever she can to get it. Magic, dead people, men, and most of all, Chloe. All that and so gorgeously written.
#18 - November 20, 2011, 02:59 PM

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Loved this book too! And this is a really interesting discussion. I have no idea what I would classify the book as - all I know is, I was completely absorbed with it until the very end. So SO creepy in places! Awesome.
#19 - November 21, 2011, 05:17 AM
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Just finished it!  Adored it!  It reminds me of the "Silent Hill" video games as well as one of my favorite movies, "In Dreams." Bravo!
#20 - December 22, 2011, 12:31 PM
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What I loved most was that it's oozing with atmosphere. And, yeah, super creepy.

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It reminds me of the "Silent Hill" video games

I can totally see what you mean about that. I've never read anything quite like it. I think it's really going to stand the test of time. Definitely have to go back and read Dani Noir (or Fade Out as it's been renamed).
#21 - December 22, 2011, 12:59 PM
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I would like to bump up this thread to mention that the Printz Club at my local HS voted Imaginary Girls as the book that they want to win the Printz on Monday. Yay! You are a winner in western NY!
#22 - January 21, 2012, 05:25 PM
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Just wanted to add my *I love this book* to the thread. There were sentences I read more than once... Because they were that perfect. Pulling for you, Nova:)
#23 - January 21, 2012, 05:28 PM
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