Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Posted On 7 November 2022

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 4 responses

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Brilliant ideas, too much repetition

Imaginary

I actually had a review copy of this and was so cross with myself for not managing to pick it up in a timely fashion that I also bought the audio version so I could joint read/listen in the hopes of catching up with some of my backlist books.

I have to say this got off to an excellent start as far as I was concerned.  A woman on the run from an abusive relationship trying desperately to find a better life for her son.  Kate and Christopher eventually find a small town that feels remote enough to stay out of reach but unfortunately disaster strikes when Christopher goes missing for six days.  When he unexpectedly reappears everything begins to change.

Imaginary Friend is a creeping horror story that manages to include plenty of dark material.  As you start the story there’s almost a feel good element with Christopher and his mum having a massive stroke of good luck.  Things really seem to be working out for the two and it’s really good to see things falling into place – obviously you know this is going to change and after Chris goes missing and returns his character begins to alter.  His schoolwork improves but he experiences severe headaches and on top of that he becomes strangely obsessed with a project to build a treehouse in the woods in which he went missing.  An idea that seems to have been planted by his new imaginary friend.  Of course, his mum isn’t keen for him to go into the woods at all and so Chris and his friends resort to a lot of sneaking around.

Now I mentioned the inclusion of ‘dark material’ and I’m not going to discuss everything but will mention a few things.  This is a small, idyllic looking town and yet appearances can be deceiving.  Behind closed doors we have plenty of uncomfortable reading and as the drama escalates these issues begin to creep out into the open.  Marriages gone wrong, child abuse, alcohol dependence, bullying, religious fervour – to name but a few.  So, bear that in mind if these are potential triggers for you before picking this one up.

Basically, and not to give too much away, this is a fight against good and evil and a race against time to prevent all hell breaking loose,  In the meantime the whole town seems to be infected with a strange sort of hysteria and the build up becomes intense and bloody.

Before I go any further I would say that this book is so good in so many ways.  The writing is really good and some of the ideas are brilliant.  The characters are well portrayed and the whole story is full of creepy atmosphere.  But.  It’s simply too long. And, before you break out the torches and pitchforks, in my defense I will say that I’m not against long books per se – but I am against them feeling long – and this one just became too much repetition.  It felt like one long life or death drama after another but rather than creating tension it had the opposite effect and I found myself becoming completely complacent with regard to the characters and their eventual fates.  So many times I felt like this must be it, the grande finale, but so many times I was wrong and the storyline began to feel like ‘build up, scary things happen, people nearly die’ rinse and repeat.

To be honest I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from reading this.  There are some superb moments here and a twist that I really didn’t see coming but it just didn’t work for me and I’m not above admitting it could be a mood thing or perhaps me simply going into this with my own expectations that were maybe ill founded.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 2.5 of 5 stars

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4 Responses to “Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky”

  1. Tammy

    That is what stopped me from reading this, the length. Obviously some long books are just the right length for the story, but it sounds like that’s not the case here.

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    I’m sorry this did not work for you, but I understand when you lament the excessive length of the story: big books are great when they have an enthralling tale to tell, not when they are unnecessarily padded with repetition… (((SIGH))) 🙂

  3. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I am happy you got to check it out, though pity you didn’t enjoy it more especially given how you made time for it after so long and the massive page length. It’s been a while, but I remember feeling kind of meh about it too.

  4. pagesandtea

    I do like the sound of this, but the story length makes me think twice. I often seem to go for long books, not really on purpose either, and enjoy them if there’s still story to tell, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. Hope you’re enjoying whatever you’re reading now 😀

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