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Imaginary Friend

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IMAGINE... Leaving your house in the middle of the night. Knowing your mother is doing her best, but she's just as scared as you. IMAGINE... Starting a new school, making friends. Seeing how happy it makes your mother. Hearing a voice, calling out to you. IMAGINE... Following the signs, into the woods. Going missing for six days. Remembering nothing about what happened. IMAGINE... IMAGINE... Leaving your house in the middle of the night. Knowing your mother is doing her best, but she's just as scared as you. IMAGINE... Starting a new school, making friends. Seeing how happy it makes your mother. Hearing a voice, calling out to you. IMAGINE... Following the signs, into the woods. Going missing for six days. Remembering nothing about what happened. IMAGINE... Something that will change everything... And having to save everyone you love. * * * * *


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IMAGINE... Leaving your house in the middle of the night. Knowing your mother is doing her best, but she's just as scared as you. IMAGINE... Starting a new school, making friends. Seeing how happy it makes your mother. Hearing a voice, calling out to you. IMAGINE... Following the signs, into the woods. Going missing for six days. Remembering nothing about what happened. IMAGINE... IMAGINE... Leaving your house in the middle of the night. Knowing your mother is doing her best, but she's just as scared as you. IMAGINE... Starting a new school, making friends. Seeing how happy it makes your mother. Hearing a voice, calling out to you. IMAGINE... Following the signs, into the woods. Going missing for six days. Remembering nothing about what happened. IMAGINE... Something that will change everything... And having to save everyone you love. * * * * *

30 review for Imaginary Friend

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    I was so afraid of my contact lens numbers were going to be bigger than my irises after I finished this book (Give me a biggest Chardonnay break, my dear friends, this month I read “Institution”, “Gold Finch” and still working on “Priory of Orange Tree” which has also 800 pages. My red eyed image is still giving creeps to neighborhood kids and their mothers which is fine with me, I can eat trick or treat candies I’ve bough to serve them and I could also steal their M&M- only the red ones, I was so afraid of my contact lens numbers were going to be bigger than my irises after I finished this book (Give me a biggest Chardonnay break, my dear friends, this month I read “Institution”, “Gold Finch” and still working on “Priory of Orange Tree” which has also 800 pages. My red eyed image is still giving creeps to neighborhood kids and their mothers which is fine with me, I can eat trick or treat candies I’ve bough to serve them and I could also steal their M&M- only the red ones, they can have the others-) I read too many bad reviews which gave me a little hesitation at first but come on, we’re talking about “Perks of Being a Wallflower” author! And horror is one of my favorite genre ( Before I got my caffeine intake in the mornings I look like Frakenstein’s bride with my all my hair in the air and raccoon eye make-up style so I get used to love horrific things )) Of course I was all in! I said bring it on this terrifying read. At least if I got bored, I could use it as dumbbell like I did with My KING’s “Stand” book. (Don’t get me wrong I love that book but after finishing it, I was looking like Dwayne Johnson’s big sister with my humongous biceps! My husband used them as pillows to rest his head and take quick naps!) I can feel for the readers’ disappointment or frustration because of changing of writing, story-telling method of the author and focusing on different genre. I actually confused too many times during my read and turned the cover to make sure that I was having the right writer’s book. Was I reading the right STEPHEN’s book? Was it not KING’s book, right? It is Chbosky book. I actually thought both authors were pulling a prank and at the end of the novel we could find an acknowledgment part confessing my KING pushed Chbosky away from his seat and started to touch the key pad like playing a horrific theme from Phantom of the Opera and wrote this book. I mostly enjoy the writing even it was soooo looonnnggg and I dropped my dried contact lenses into my wine glasses and coffee mugs (of course drink choices changing daily and nightly!) and when I was multitasking like biting a scone and flipping the pages, I may have consumed some book pages as well and feeding my dogs with scone (they somersaulted and danced all day, like dogs like owners!) But Christopher’s age is a little concerned me. At least he could be around 10- 12, maybe this age is a little old to have an imaginary friend but his age is too young to endure and fight against all those scary and haunted things he’d met. It hurt me to see him suffer too many times. (I was thinking I couldn’t see anything disturbing like Joker movie but those parts of the book really agitated me as well) And the good and evil’s never ending fight, all those biblical references, the parts about the way of people’s atonement of their sins were too compelling subjects in this young and innocent child’s world. I think with omitted parts ( especially the last parts of the book were too long and they kept repeat themselves) and a simpler boy and his imaginary friend’s story not about heavy biblical subjects, but a story about a boy’s loneliness and naivety to imagine wrong kind of best friend would work better for me! But as a summary, my 3 point 5 stars eventually rounded up to 4 because I love spooky, haunted, nail biter, dark stories and I enjoyed most part of the book. It’s a thrilling, entertaining but also exhausting reading. I hope I don’t scream too much in my sleep this night (Don’t worry, this book didn’t scare me like that but my husband learned to imitate Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker laughter and as soon as I close my eyes at night, he performs very same laughter in the silence of the night like a heartless creature. So this month I decided to read more horror books because real life and vengeful husbands who were dissatisfied with my cooking performance were scarier than the books! Trust me! I learned from the hardest way!)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    Now available as a BOTM add on starting in October! Long ago, books stopped terrifying me in the way that people search out from the likes of gory, graphic horror films. Somewhere upon entering adulthood, the paranormal took a backseat to the chills provided by child abuse, sexual assault, and the murder of members of minority groups who never gain an ounce of justice, but this book terrified me in ways that I haven't experienced in over a decade, mainly due to combining paranormal AND realistic Now available as a BOTM add on starting in October! Long ago, books stopped terrifying me in the way that people search out from the likes of gory, graphic horror films. Somewhere upon entering adulthood, the paranormal took a backseat to the chills provided by child abuse, sexual assault, and the murder of members of minority groups who never gain an ounce of justice, but this book terrified me in ways that I haven't experienced in over a decade, mainly due to combining paranormal AND realistic horror. I'll go into more detail at the end, complete with spoiler tags, but this book contained the one horror element that still manages to give me nightmares, no matter how many times I read a book that includes it. If you want to go into Imaginary Friend completely blind, I recommend stopping here, and not reading anything else surrounding the story until you've had a chance to pick it up for yourself. If you're the type of reader, like me, who enjoys knowing a bit more about a cryptically vague book to see if you're compatible with it, keep going. Either way, please take my thoughts lightly as the cause behind the commotion in this novel will be very polarizing, and most folks will love it or hate it. "Don't leave the street. They can't get you if you don't leave the street." The most common question I've received surrounding this novel is about the page length. "Was it really necessary for the story to be over 700 pages long? Who does this guy think he is, Stephen King?" Honestly? Yes. I had my doubts going in, but I almost immediately found myself entranced by the author's writing, and what would be described as a slow burning introduction to our characters became an unputdownable saga. There's a reason why Chbosky is a bestselling author, and while he did wait almost 2 decades to publish his second novel, it shows his incredible range of storytelling capabilities and otherworldly talent. The average rating is considerably lower than most popular books on Goodreads at the time of this writing, but I do think the page length is something that is possibly affecting this. If you're the type of reader that doesn't enjoy a meaty doorstop, you probably won't appreciate what this book has to offer. The page count will be a dealbreaker for about half of the readers out there, and that's ok, big books aren't for everyone. If you're still with me, let's continue on. "Oh please don't let it be the hissing lady. Please don't let me be asleep." While I hate comparing authors' various works amongst each other, I think it's helpful to note why this book is being pitched to fans of Stephen King and his older horror novels. This book appears to be set in the 90's, and it very strongly has the "kids battle evil entity" vibe that is so prevalent in many of King's past bestsellers, which automatically appealed to me. The beginning has a similar feel where, we get many details into a multitude of characters' lives, and after the foundation is set, the creepy instances start. It begins slowly, and almost seems to tip-toe around the horror aspect until well into the book, but it is beautifully done so. As a reader, I became invested in Kate and Christopher as humans, and the bond they created through shared experiences with poverty, abuse, and trauma was so necessary in transforming Imaginary Friend from a B-rated horror romp into a full scale terrifying masterpiece. "Hisssssss. Hisssssss." Alright, here's the meat of it. I'm going to put this next paragraph in a spoiler tag, and while there are no specific spoilers, I do discuss the theme of the reveal, and I don't want this to affect those readers wishing to go in blind. (view spoiler)[Bottom line? This is what I like to refer to as religious horror. Sure, it's very much fictionalized, and stretches the canon of good-vs-evil/heaven-vs-hell quite a bit, but it should be noted that I did not feel that this book was preachy; if anything, the author chose to use these themes in a way that is meant for nothing but sheer entertainment value. I mention it because this form of storytelling may be received as sacrilegious or offensive to some religious groups. (hide spoiler)] This part was so well done, for me personally, because I saw the initial reveal coming (the who not the what), and I was still found myself astonished once it finally came. There is so much more detail I could go into, but I'd rather let you experience Imaginary Friend for yourself. This book would make a fantastic bookclub pick for groups who enjoy darker reads, as there is so much to be taken away from this. Beyond the horror aspect, there are so many themes surrounding sacrifice, hope, and love that will appeal to parents, caregivers, and members of small communities. While I found myself with questions after finishing, that was ok, because I enjoy when a book makes me think long past the turning of the final page. Imaginary Friend will rank amongst the most unique and memorable books I've ever read, and you can be sure I'll never forget it. Also, reader? Make sure you keep the lights on while devouring this book. If you fall asleep, you never know what may creep into your nightmares. *Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    how in the world did stephen chbosky go from writing 'we accept the love we think we deserve' to an entire book dedicated to a child haunted by horrifying imaginary people?! i guess 20 years between books is enough time for an author to change. and in this case, 20 years to plan stephen kings demise. because holy crap. this is the creepiest thing ive ever read, in the most bizarre way possible. this actually reminded me a lot of ‘stranger things’ - strange things happen, its a little spooky and how in the world did stephen chbosky go from writing 'we accept the love we think we deserve' to an entire book dedicated to a child haunted by horrifying imaginary people?! i guess 20 years between books is enough time for an author to change. and in this case, 20 years to plan stephen kings demise. because holy crap. this is the creepiest thing ive ever read, in the most bizarre way possible. this actually reminded me a lot of ‘stranger things’ - strange things happen, its a little spooky and im not sure i entirely understand everything or if i even like it, but it is ever so slightly addicting. ↠ 3.5 stars

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    This started off really strong, but I gotta be honest with you all: I completely stopped giving a shit about this at about the 65% mark. This book was just way too long with not enough pay off. The biggest meh.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    "We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us." Imaginary Friend feels very much like a classic horror novel which is both a good and a bad thing. To begin with, we have a group of young kids, an unknown evil that fills them with fear and despair, a small town on the brink of chaos, and missing dead children from 50 years ago. And it is terribly creepy. When I first read The Perks of Being a Wallflower I remember feeling underwhelmed. I didn’t get why people loved this story so much. "We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us." Imaginary Friend feels very much like a classic horror novel which is both a good and a bad thing. To begin with, we have a group of young kids, an unknown evil that fills them with fear and despair, a small town on the brink of chaos, and missing dead children from 50 years ago. And it is terribly creepy. When I first read The Perks of Being a Wallflower I remember feeling underwhelmed. I didn’t get why people loved this story so much. Neither writing nor plot managed to catch my interest, but maybe I wasn’t ready when I first read it. Rewatching the film years later showed me what a beautiful and moving story Chbosky had created. But with IF I was immediately drawn into the world of Christopher who vanishes into the woods for six whole days just to turn up again unharmed, but with a desperate need to build a treehouse in the middle of the Mission Street Woods. And something else has changed: his dyslexia is gone, he is suddenly the best kid in his maths class, and he seems to know what people feel and think. It was creepy as hell, I had goosebumps 24/7 and no clue about what was happening. Never did I think that I would devour these 700 pages in three days but that’s exactly what happened. The writing was compelling, the characters felt real, and I really needed to know what the fuck was going on or I would DIE. So far so good, but things changed around the 500-page mark. There was a big twist, which, although I didn’t see it coming, didn’t catch me unaware. Mainly because it felt too simplified and unoriginal. It wouldn’t have bothered me much, though, if the story had been taken to a clean and satisfying ending. But what followed were 200 pages that should have been 100 pages, or maybe 70. You know when there is a final battle with the biggest bully on the lot and you know this is it, it’s live or die? That didn’t only happen once, it happened three times. It wasn’t just repetitive at this point, it was a big mess. And even though I had really enjoyed – loved – the story until that point, it couldn’t hold my attention and fascination any longer. It was made even worse by Chbosky’s use of redundant tropes that put female characters in over-sexualised and violated roles. I honestly expected better of him. Chbosky is a great storyteller who proved repeatedly that he has what it takes to tell heartfelt stories with characters that feel real, that are relatable. So why did he suddenly feel the need to make use of tropes such as the prude catholic girl tempted by sin, why did he have to degrade most of his central female characters by ripping off their clothes, violating their bodies, by turning them into madwomen haunted by unfeeling or violent men? I’m not criticising the fact that he made violence and abuse part of a female character’s story. Sadly, that is far from unrealistic. But he exploited them and used their pain for shock value like countless male authors have done before him. It’s a limited and frankly antiquated way of writing female voices. Overall, this novel would have been a new favourite if it had paid more attention to plotting and characterisation. Find more of my books on Instagram

  6. 4 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    This morning I FINALLY managed to finish Imaginary Friend. I started this book and was immediately hooked. It was uber creepy, really well written, I was loving it. Sadly it was all downhill from there. 700+ pages of which maybe half ended up being relevant/adding to the story. Now I love a tome. I recently read Wanderers which was longer than this one but had zero wasted scenes or words and was an epic that read fast. So it's not the length itself that was an issue. I read King and Tolstoy. This morning I FINALLY managed to finish Imaginary Friend. I started this book and was immediately hooked. It was uber creepy, really well written, I was loving it. Sadly it was all downhill from there. 700+ pages of which maybe half ended up being relevant/adding to the story. Now I love a tome. I recently read Wanderers which was longer than this one but had zero wasted scenes or words and was an epic that read fast. So it's not the length itself that was an issue. I read King and Tolstoy. Trust me I can cope with a long narrative that you need to commit to. It was the slogging through endless pages of repetitive nonsense, towards a pay off that irritated me, didn't really make sense and subjectively wasn't worth the effort. It was the eventual realisation that this was one long sermon from which I am supposed to learn something (And boy does the author ram that down your throat ad finitum for the last 20%) It was basically (In my opinion) the author plugging his belief system but disguising it as a horror story. Well you know what you can do with THAT shenanigans. Too long. Way too long. Even allowing for my very personal reaction to what this book was, and allowing that quite rightly for some readers this novel will resonate in a different way , I honestly believe it needs a HUGE edit. There's so much white noise the plot, the "message" whether that message appeals to you or not, gets lost along the way. It's probably in the woods with about a million deer and a few white plastic bags. You had to be there. But I really can't recommend it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    Perks of Being a Wallflower was not part of my adolescence and I’m not much of a horror reader although I do enjoy it every once in a great while. So, I’m not quite the right reader for this ambitious novel. Needless to say twenty years after the publication of Perks, Imaginary Friend is quite a departure for Chbosky. As is fairly typical of horror novels, the main conflict is good vs. evil, God vs. the devil and so on and so forth. The kids-in-jeopardy trope is in full swing which echoes King Perks of Being a Wallflower was not part of my adolescence and I’m not much of a horror reader although I do enjoy it every once in a great while. So, I’m not quite the right reader for this ambitious novel. Needless to say twenty years after the publication of Perks, Imaginary Friend is quite a departure for Chbosky. As is fairly typical of horror novels, the main conflict is good vs. evil, God vs. the devil and so on and so forth. The kids-in-jeopardy trope is in full swing which echoes King but with less success. I found the kids to be too young at seven years old; perhaps eleven years old would have made it a bit more palatable. This is a long novel and there is a lot that should have been cut due to an overload of repetition. I was about to tear my hair if I read “…like baby teeth” one more time. This is just one example. In its favor, it reads fast and is action-packed. Will it sell in the marketplace? Yes, like green wildfire.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte May

    Wow! I’ll tell you now, this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but it was 100% up my street. Mind bending, so incredibly clever with such beautiful and heartfelt language and messages. I’m astonished and reviewing this is gonna be bloody hard. "He knew how he found the skeleton. He knew that the bones had been there for a long time. He even thought he knew the name of the kid who died. But he couldn't tell the grown-ups that. Because eventually, they would ask him how he knew everything. And he Wow! I’ll tell you now, this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but it was 100% up my street. Mind bending, so incredibly clever with such beautiful and heartfelt language and messages. I’m astonished and reviewing this is gonna be bloody hard. "He knew how he found the skeleton. He knew that the bones had been there for a long time. He even thought he knew the name of the kid who died. But he couldn't tell the grown-ups that. Because eventually, they would ask him how he knew everything. And he only had one truthful answer. 'Because my imaginary friend told me." Ok, here goes nothing. We start with Christopher, a young boy living with his mother, they struggle to get by and Christopher has a lot of trouble with letters. One day while waiting for his mother to pick him up after school he wanders into the Mission Street Woods and isn't discovered until 6 days later, completely unharmed yet with a complete memory lapse of his time there. When asked how he got out, all Christopher will say is 'the nice man helped me.' Many years before, another young lad David Olsom also wandered into the Mission Street Woods but was never found. What happened to him? Since returning from the woods Christopher has gained himself an imaginary friend. He does wonderful things for him, Christopher becomes a genius overnight, his mother wins the lottery, he gets a group of friends and things are looking up. Meanwhile we follow a collection of other characters, from Christopher's school friends, his mother's ex boyfriend, a local Christian girl Mary Katherine, the Sherrif and many more. If you like books with a variety of different characters you'll like this one. Before long Christopher is being led by his imaginary friend. A villain called the Hissing Lady is out to get Christopher, and the Nice Man is determined to protect him. The most important task is to build a tree house, it will work as a doorway between the real world and the imaginary world. But Christopher must not be in the imaginary world at night, because that is where the evil lurks. Soon Christopher is spending more and more time in the imaginary world. While the people in the real world are suffering from some kind of sickness which is making them all crazy. Violence erupts and the world turns into utter chaos. I won't say anymore now as it's about there when the twists start coming in. If you don't like religious allegory then maybe pass this one because it is quite prominent. Personally I loved it, and I thought the way in which Chbosky handles the different aspects of the genesis story and retells them in his own way was simply fantastic. (view spoiler)[It turns out the Hissing Lady is actually Eve. She offered to go to hell to try and protect people from the devil. By the end she returns to heaven which was lush. The nice man is actually Satan - such an interesting portrayal of the way he can cause people to go crazy and commit crimes., but also how terrifying this version of hell was. Where murderers are forced to stab themselves over and over. (hide spoiler)] Finally the reveal at the end was just incredible. (view spoiler)[ Mary Katherine is a retold version of the virgin Mary, and she is expecting a child. (hide spoiler)] This entire story just has so much in it, no wonder it is 700+ pages. But honestly I believed every page was worth it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Whitney Atkinson

    I'll be first to admit that I never read horror, nor do I have the interest, but I wanted to give Stephen Chbosky a try just because he was an iconic author of my teenage years. But this..... wasn't it. Even from the objective perspective of someone not into horror, especially paranormal/fantastical horror, this was a longwinded mess. This book started out strong to trick you to read on, but the ending was catastrophically terrible. The first 25% is basically what the synopsis describes, and then I'll be first to admit that I never read horror, nor do I have the interest, but I wanted to give Stephen Chbosky a try just because he was an iconic author of my teenage years. But this..... wasn't it. Even from the objective perspective of someone not into horror, especially paranormal/fantastical horror, this was a longwinded mess. This book started out strong to trick you to read on, but the ending was catastrophically terrible. The first 25% is basically what the synopsis describes, and then afterward, the story truly begins. Let me reiterate that this book is 700 pages long and the first quarter of the book is just exposition. From 25% to 75%, this book actually had a lot of good parts. It kept me guessing, it had twists and turns, it had a few creepy partys. But then the ending just became overwritten, incomprehensible plot divided between two worlds and between a cast of 10 characters. The writing was average at best throughout the book, but the end of the book just became totally ridiculous with all the characters screaming LIKE THIS!!!! at each other multiple times a page, aNd ThE viLLaiN oF thE boOk tAlkS liKe tHis. I skim read the last 10% just in search of answers, but this book provided none. I have no idea what the conflict of the book was and why any of the villains were wreaking havoc on the world. The main plot twist at the end just made the entire situation more confusing and everything got so muddled in the end that it's making me regret spending TWO WEEKS reading this massive book only for it to be so completely a let down because the plot doesn't actually get resolved in a way that makes sense. Chbosky just kept on dragging the conflict out even though he could have ended everything 500 pages earlier, with SO much unnecessary inner monologue that dragged out the pace even more. Maybe if you like fantastical thrillers with religious/spiritual undertones you would enjoy this more, but in my opinion, just save your time and read Stephen King or something.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    “Death is coming! Death is here! We’ll die on Christmas Day!” - Stephen Chbosky, Imaginary Friend Holy wow. This is a tough one to talk about. For about 600 of this book’s 700 pages, I was fully committed and absolutely on board. I was enjoying every page of Stephen Chbosky’s Imaginary Friend, marveling at the intricate plotting, the engaging characters, the slam-bang set-pieces, and the utter uniqueness of the premise, even as I mentally ticked off all the influences (A Nightmare on Elm Street, “Death is coming! Death is here! We’ll die on Christmas Day!” - Stephen Chbosky, Imaginary Friend Holy wow. This is a tough one to talk about. For about 600 of this book’s 700 pages, I was fully committed and absolutely on board. I was enjoying every page of Stephen Chbosky’s Imaginary Friend, marveling at the intricate plotting, the engaging characters, the slam-bang set-pieces, and the utter uniqueness of the premise, even as I mentally ticked off all the influences (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Stranger Things, The Dead Zone, Dante’s Inferno, the Bible…) And then came the ending. Imaginary Friend is like a roller coaster in a very literal sense. There are tremendous highs, astounding lows, and an extremely sudden, whiplash-inducing transition between those two poles. The first eighty-five percent is so good, I nearly missed my train stop on the morning commute. The last fifteen percent is so bad, I felt embarrassed for the author. Before I say anymore, a brief summary is in order. Imaginary Friend begins with seven year-old Christopher and his mother Kate escaping from an abusive relationship. They end up in the small town of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania, which feels very close to certain Maine townships, namely Castle Rock and Derry. At first, Christopher’s troubles are very much of this world. Fitting in at school, despite being targeted by bullies. Getting good grades, despite a learning disability. Soon, though, bigger perils intrude. Christopher goes missing in the Mission Street Woods for six days. When he is found, he cannot remember anything. There are no signs of foul play. The only evidence that he was gone is a gradual change in the fortunes of Christopher and his mother. It turns out, though, that Christopher has come from the woods with a mission to build a treehouse by Christmas Day. I don’t think it gives away too much to say that this tree house will act as a kind of portal between worlds: the real world on one side, and the imaginary world on the other. The imaginary world is another dimension that is sort of overlaid on the real. Within this strange realm, Christopher finds himself a pawn in a cosmic war between good and evil, represented by the nice man on one side, and the hissing lady on the other. If that sounds crazy, well I can assure you, it gets a billion times loopier. The early-going is pure genius. When I picked up this doorstop, I figured I was in for a bit of a shaggy-dog tale, filled with digressions and authorial indulgences. What I discovered, however, is that Chbosky is not here to waste a single page, a single sentence. He writes with a Chekovian purity where even the tiniest details have meaning to the overall plot. Everything gets woven into the larger tapestry, with nothing included as simple background filler. The characters are also excellent, and are fully revealed through time. At first, many of the people we meet are archetypes. Christopher is the precocious youngster who develops special powers. His mother is the quintessential ass-kicking single mom-cum-lioness. The sheriff moved here from a big city because he has a haunted past. The bully at school is a rich asshole whose parents own half the town. Eventually, though, details are added to fill in the corners of their lives. While not every character gets the full 3-D treatment, almost everyone is graced with Chbosky’s abundant empathy. But this is not an intense, inward-looking character study. There are some big action pieces, and Chbosky really impressed me with his ability to evoke panoramic scenes of mayhem. At certain points, Imaginary Friend takes on a cinematic quality. Chbosky also does an incredible job – up to a point – of creating the overarching system that governs the interplay between the real and imaginary worlds. In dozens of meticulous scenes, Chbosky gives you the rules and parameters of the imaginary world, and of Christopher’s role in it. Normally, a setup like this, which is completely unmoored from reality, would not interest me. To my surprise, I was more than willing to go along for the ride, mainly due to Chbosky’s skill and confidence as a storyteller. There is even a masterfully executed twist, one good enough to have you paging back to earlier in the novel, to see how Chbosky set it up. So far, so good. Then we come to the ending. I won’t spoil it for you, though I truly believe it spoils itself. Suffice to say, the complex concepts that Chbosky carefully built, brick by brick, crumble like dry sand, eventually collapsing in a needlessly drawn-out climax that exchanges the carefully-laid conventions of the imaginary world for cornpone sentiment and drive-by Christianity. The sharpness is first softened, and then overwhelmed, by a maudlin tide of sentiment, punctuated by some inanely simplistic speechifying. Imaginary Friend is being billed as “literary horror.” I’m not exactly sure what that is meant to convey, though I expect that the copy editor who coined the phrase assumed – wrongly – that horror and literary merit are mutually exclusive. Anyone who has ever read Stephen King knows the fallacy of that assumption. It is more accurate to say that Imaginary Friend is what happens when the hardcore horror of King gets into a head-on, high-speed, two vehicle collision with the tooth-achy treacle churned out by Mitch Albom on a semiregular basis. This is a novel I cannot recommend. It is, indeed, a novel I am tempted to say you should avoid. Nonetheless, I have to admit a certain lingering fascination for what Chbosky attempted. It is a failure. Yet he failed ambitiously. And if you are going to go down in flames, it might as well be spectacular.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    In this stunning thriller by Stephen Chbosky, the reader is taken through a dark world where a young boy holds a great deal of power in his small Pennsylvania community. After fleeing Michigan, Christopher Reece and his mother, Kate, end up in the Pittsburgh area, ready for a new start. Things begin in a problematic manner for young Christopher, who is ridiculed for being different and finds himself struggling with some learning disabilities. When Christopher goes exploring in the forest close In this stunning thriller by Stephen Chbosky, the reader is taken through a dark world where a young boy holds a great deal of power in his small Pennsylvania community. After fleeing Michigan, Christopher Reece and his mother, Kate, end up in the Pittsburgh area, ready for a new start. Things begin in a problematic manner for young Christopher, who is ridiculed for being different and finds himself struggling with some learning disabilities. When Christopher goes exploring in the forest close to his home, he is not heard from again for six days. When he’s found roaming around by a passing vehicle, he cannot remember what happened or where he had been for that time, save that the ‘nice man’ helped guide him home. Christopher is transformed after this ordeal, seeming not to be the same little boy any longer. His intelligence is through the roof and he seems to have made a good social connection at school. When Christopher and his friends dig up the skeleton of a child inadvertently while constructing a treehouse, things take an even darker turn. Christopher is seen whispering to himself, explaining that it is his imaginary friend, while people in the town begin to experience numerous signs of sickness. A number of dark events take place and Christopher is called back to his treehouse by the ‘nice man’, as they try to locate and defeat an apparition called the ‘hissing woman’. By the time things appear to settle down, Christopher develops a horrible fever and is rushed to the hospital, while forces on both sides of the real and his imagined world wage war for his future being. Intensely chilling and full of twists that the reader will likely not expect, Chbosky entertains readers with a dark thriller that will surely linger for long after the final page has been read. Recommended to those who love a thriller that takes them to the darkest reaches of evil, as well as the reader who enjoys something that is complex and captivating in equal measure. Having never read any Stephen Chbosky before this book, I was not sure what to expect. I was pulled deep into the story in the opening pages, unable to push back. I needed to know everything that happened and how Christopher might be able to extricate himself from the situation that fell into his lap. Christopher Reece appears to be the major protagonist, though I could argue that there are many, depending on which thread of the narrative the reader finds the most captivating. Young Christopher is trying to put his life in order after yet another move with a flighty mother, though seems to find a great deal of comfort in his imaginary friend, particularly after the six day disappearance. Christopher changes significantly at this point, pulling the story along with him into dark and secretive subplots that will keep the reader guessing. Many others hold their own plots within the book, enhancing the work of Christopher, as well as dealing with their own troubles. Chbosky develops a strong set of storylines that utilise his characters to their fullest. The overall story is not as ‘sci-fi’ as it may seem, though there is a great deal of horror and dark thrills that fill the pages, leaving the reader to wonder what they may have signed on to read. With haunting religious symbolism throughout, Chbosky does not let up, spinning haunting aspects and chilling resolutions, while keeping the reader wondering until the final sentence lingers above the page. I have not read such a long book with such interest or determination in a long time. I can only hope to find more in this genre soon. Kudos, Mr. Chbosky, for an explosive story and stellar characters. I will be looking for more of your work, particularly if it offers the same impact. Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chandra Claypool (wherethereadergrows)

    "A nightmare is nothing more than a dream gone sick." This book.... THIS BOOK. I never read Perks of Being a Wallflower but what I do know is that this author went to a completely different genre with this young adult horror fiction read. Is it worth every 700+ page? You bet your ass it is. To begin with, the main character's name is Christopher Reese - this made it somewhat sentimental to me because my family became very close with the Reese family when we lived in Italy. Their youngest was "A nightmare is nothing more than a dream gone sick." This book.... THIS BOOK. I never read Perks of Being a Wallflower but what I do know is that this author went to a completely different genre with this young adult horror fiction read. Is it worth every 700+ page? You bet your ass it is. To begin with, the main character's name is Christopher Reese - this made it somewhat sentimental to me because my family became very close with the Reese family when we lived in Italy. Their youngest was their son, Christopher who became a brother to me over the years and somehow that made this is a bit sentimental to me. Both have a strong relationship with their mothers and both are the best and sweetest boys. Listen, if you can find something in your real life that anchors you to the fictional life in the book you're reading, it absolutely makes a difference. There were also a couple of incidents that truly reminded me of my childhood. Being pulled under a bed (or that feeling that something or someone was under there) was always a nightmare for me as a child (and once I woke up halfway under the bed, so yeah...) and that creepy ice cream truck jingle... UFF. Both are mentioned and just grabbed that inner child within me all the more. Even to this day, when the many ice cream trucks roam my neighbor at the weirdest night time hours, it still makes my blood turn cold. Now, this book is just extremely engaging. Even with all 700+ pages, the chapters are short and I love the various tiny changes to format riddled within. You'll know what I mean when you pick up your copy, and I encourage you to make sure to put this on your TBR. This book is chock full of lessons. A relationship between a mother and son - Christopher and how he takes care of his mother while she feels guilty for not being the mother she thinks she needs to be. Faith, shown especially within Mary Katherine and where we get our first hints of the religious undertones of this novel. The good versus evil and how nothing is especially what it seems - especially in the Imaginary World - STAY ON THE STREETS! The loyalty of your childhood group of friends. The past coming to haunt you and how you move forward in any type of life. I could go on and on and on. While I absolutely consider this my favorite of the year so far, there are a couple of things that didn't quite work for me. The children being 7, made it a little bit implausible - if they were just a few years older, it would've made that slight difference. Some things may feel a bit repetitive but personally I didn't mind this at all and I think that honed in on certain pieces of the story. However, the baby teeth as a description definitely stuck in my head - I wish that could've been identified with something different or not described repetitively throughout the read. But these are just nit picks that I can overlook because of the impact this story had on me. Some people may think this could've been shortened but I think every single page worked to tell this multifaceted story. For me, this has that NOS4A2 creepy vibe, "kids group fighting evil" King vibe with that Burton-esque feel. I would absolutely LOVE to see this adapted. The hissing woman, the mailbox people and the nice man - each told and described in a tone that set you on your journey with Christopher in the Imaginary World and boy oh boy, these will be anchored in my mind for quite some time. And let me tell you what, I hope I don't run into deer anytime soon (or ever). Basically, put this on your TBR, keep an open mind and set aside a few hours to really let this story seep into your blood stream. I'll see you on the other side. Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for this early release.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ 3.5 Stars “A nightmare is nothing but a dream gone sick.” Where do I even begin when it comes to the release of this (20 year) long awaited tome? I guess the easiest thing to do is address the obvious. For those of you who have been anticipating a new Perks to fall in love with, I have some bad news . . . . There is no Charlie to be had here. Instead, there is a Christopher. A little boy who recently moved to small-town Pennsylvania Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ 3.5 Stars “A nightmare is nothing but a dream gone sick.” Where do I even begin when it comes to the release of this (20 year) long awaited tome? I guess the easiest thing to do is address the obvious. For those of you who have been anticipating a new Perks to fall in love with, I have some bad news . . . . There is no Charlie to be had here. Instead, there is a Christopher. A little boy who recently moved to small-town Pennsylvania with his mother when she escaped from an abusive relationship. A little boy who disappeared for six days into the Mission Street Woods and returned – safe . . . but different. A little boy who used to see words as nothing but jumbled letters, but now can ace a quiz in less than a minute. A little boy who has the ability to change his mother’s financial status. A little boy who has to get a treehouse built before it’s too late . . . . “DEATH IS COMING! DEATH IS HERE! WE’LL DIE ON CHRISTMAS DAY!” ^That sucks. I love Christmas. Today begins the official one-month countdown until I can begin Clark Griswalding up the house. I’m going to do things a little differently here when it comes to this review. I’m going to talk about some stuff I didn’t like (while still giving this a pretty high rating). #1. Here is one of my Kindle notes . . . . “This has to end by midnight and there are still 200 pages left. Yikes.” You are going to hear a lot of talk about how this book is waaaaaaay too long. Because it is. Like 350 pages too long. And it’s repetitive to the point of total frustration. You know what I’m talking about, right???? #2. Has Stephen Chbosky ever even met a seven year old? You already have to be able to suspend disbelief in order for a group of kids to be building a McMansion of a treehouse complete with a locking door, shutters, glass windows and a trapdoor with a rope ladder, but JFC - seven???? Not only are these kids better at flipping treehouses than Chip and Joanna Gaines, but they are also pros at sneaking out of the house – they aren’t afraid of the dark and scary woods – they curse like sailors and can’t wait for the chance to see some nekkid titties on Showtime . . . . No. They’re SEVEN. #3. There are a lot of things that will call to mind to another recent(ish) release. Between the concerned mother . . . . And the local sheriff haunted by his own demons . . . And Charlie’s “headaches” . . . . . And the imaginary side . . . . But hey, at least those things aren’t similar to a freaking worldwide phenomenon with a ginormous fanbase, right???? Oh, wait. So why the high rating? #1. For not only having the balls to not just barf out book after book after book on the heels of his first success, but to release something completely different than that megahit all these years later. #2. For the fact that despite all of my gripes, I read this puppy squisher in two days. Obviously it held my interest. #3. For the ending. The ending is excellent. Unlike some other megafamous authors who shall remain nameless, but have a tendency to shit the bed in horror stories that wrap up with things like giant alien spiders or . . . giant ants . . . . #4. Ambrose . . . . Y’all know I have old lady brain, but I won’t be forgetting Ambrose any time soon. Endless thanks to Grand Central Publishing for offering me an early copy of this title in exchange for my honest review. This will remain in a prime location on the shelf. ORIGINAL "REVIEW:" 700+ pages by the guy who wrote one of my favorite YA books ever??? Here goes nothing everything . . . . .

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gabby

    This 700 page book was a wild ride. This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year because I adore Stephen Chbosky and I couldn't be more curious to see what he does with the horror/thriller genre, and this book did not disappoint for the most part. I recorded my entire experience reading this book in a reading vlog so I'm just gonna leave that here if you're curious to hear my thoughts: https://youtu.be/4Apl4du60fs

  15. 4 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    News articles are saying to expect this in 2019, which makes Stephen Chbosky's second novel a full TWENTY YEARS after Perks. Holy shit, I am so hyped. update - may 10th, 2019: I... holy hell, y'all. It's HAPPENING! Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

  16. 5 out of 5

    ✨ jamieson ✨

    STEPHEN CHBOSKY AUTHOR OF THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER??????? AKA THE BOOK THAT DEFINED MY HIGH SCHOOL YEARS AND STILL MAKES ME CRY ???? THIS IS IT CHIEF

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    4.0 Stars Wow - now I understand why other readers love epic horror! Video Review: https://youtu.be/tXRuZKydia4 This was an incredibly engaging narrative that pulled me in from the very first page. While I normally struggle with long horror novels, I flew through this seven hundred page tome incredibly fast. The characters were incredibly likeable and writing was spot on. The narrative was certainly reminiscent of some of Stephen King’s epic works with similar themes, yet this novel stood on its 4.0 Stars Wow - now I understand why other readers love epic horror! Video Review: https://youtu.be/tXRuZKydia4 This was an incredibly engaging narrative that pulled me in from the very first page. While I normally struggle with long horror novels, I flew through this seven hundred page tome incredibly fast. The characters were incredibly likeable and writing was spot on. The narrative was certainly reminiscent of some of Stephen King’s epic works with similar themes, yet this novel stood on its own. I have not read Perks of Being a Wallflower and instead picked this book up because of the genre. Unlike his iconic young adult novel, this one was definitely aimed at adults with plenty of mature subject matter, including sexual content and abuse. Yet, I think this novel has a lot of crossover appeal for younger readers who are ready to venture into adult fiction. This felt like a very accessible piece of horror fiction with an strong narraive and relatable plot. I would love to see this book become an entry point for YA readers who want to venture into the adult horror genre. One of the things that I loved so much about this novel was that it was so well constructed. The author sprinkled so many clues throughout the story that would become pieces of a larger puzzle. It was so satisfying when tiny details from early on suddenly became relevant hundreds of pages later.  The build up in the first four hundred pages was absolute perfection. Told through multiple perspectives, this novel pulled together so many narrative threads into a streamlined story of epic proportions.  Readers should be aware that there are heavy religious themes in this novel. Like many horror epic, this one played on the classic theme of good versus evil. Yet, this one took that to another level with a particularly strong focus on Christianity. Those metaphors were very heavy handed and even could even feel preachy to readers that prefer religion to stay out of their fiction. Without going into spoilers, I need to talk about the ending. If this book had a different (better) ending, it easily would have gotten a full five star rating from me. In general, the horror genre is known for having weak or bad endings and unfortunately this book suffered from that fate. To be clear, I did not hate the ending, but I have to admit that I was pretty disappointed. I wanted to love the ending so badly because I loved just about everything else about this book, but I couldn’t. The best way to describe the ending is “messy”, which was unfortunate because the rest of the book was SO well constructed.  There was climax after climax, which just drew out the ending too much. Furthermore, the religious themes were too “on the nose” for my tastes. Thankfully, I am not the kind of reader where a weak ending ruins the entire reading experience for me. I still enjoyed the rest of the story enough to give the book a solid four star rating.  So despite its imperfections, I still highly enjoyed this story. If you are someone who can forgive a good book for having a weak ending, then I would recommend trying out this novel for yourself. There is so much to love here.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    I wasn't a big fan of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I love horror novels and this book has been the whispered-about upcoming pet project of Stephen Chbosky for years, so I definitely wanted to read it. I had noticed some negative reviews, but still it looked like it would be an interesting story with a unique plot, and the topic of imaginary friends in the realm of horror is a trope which offers numerous possibilities. It's an excessively large book, with over 700 pages to go through, but I wasn't a big fan of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I love horror novels and this book has been the whispered-about upcoming pet project of Stephen Chbosky for years, so I definitely wanted to read it. I had noticed some negative reviews, but still it looked like it would be an interesting story with a unique plot, and the topic of imaginary friends in the realm of horror is a trope which offers numerous possibilities. It's an excessively large book, with over 700 pages to go through, but I love giant books so that made it even more appealing. Honestly, I didn't love Imaginary Friend, and after reading it, I can understand the sentiment from some other readers that it's been rather overhyped, but I didn't find it bad, either. It's a likeable story with some undertones of Stephen King's works such as The Shining and Bag of Bones, and horror films common of the late 1990's - early 2000's time period like The Ring, The Sixth Sense and Dark Water. I found myself often wondering while reading it if maybe the author had been inspired by these. It wasn't particularly original though, and it often felt very dragged-out more often than not. It was very repetitive and the characters quickly got on my nerves. It didn't remind me of Chbosky's earlier novel, and it felt almost like he was trying too hard to write in the way that he perceives the public wants from a horror story. Its plot is all over the place and the writing is hard to follow (there are many choppy sentences and an odd structural style). That all said, Imaginary Friend does have its moments here and there, and there were a few instances where the writing was very memorable and quite impressive. I found the first half of the book (before the plot became muddled with a confusing sea of characters and some sort of split setting which I don't think I entirely got the gist of because I was speed-reading at that point) to be better than the rest. The first half of the book manages some creepy scenes, sets up the drama of a mother trying to protect her son effectively, and hooks its readers to want to stay engaged with the story. It's not a book for everyone and I imagine those who love it will really love it, and those who hate it will really hate it. Like many of Stephen King's larger works, Stephen Chbosky's Imaginary Friend has ambitious ideas, but has a tendency to get lost in itself and to indulge in things so excessively that it becomes redundant and puzzling after a while.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    Yes, my title on this post is absolutely correct for those that know of Stephen Chbosky’s earlier works in the young adult contemporary genre, this new title is definitely some chilling horror. There are even some similarities to the horror master himself, Stephen King in Chbosky’s new novel. The story begins following single mother Kate Reese and her son Christopher who have made a new home in Mill Grove, Pennsylvania after fleeing an abusive relationship. Mill Grove seemed like the perfect Yes, my title on this post is absolutely correct for those that know of Stephen Chbosky’s earlier works in the young adult contemporary genre, this new title is definitely some chilling horror. There are even some similarities to the horror master himself, Stephen King in Chbosky’s new novel. The story begins following single mother Kate Reese and her son Christopher who have made a new home in Mill Grove, Pennsylvania after fleeing an abusive relationship. Mill Grove seemed like the perfect place to make a new life until the unthinkable happened and Christopher disappeared. Six long days pass for Kate as everyone pitches in and searches for her boy who was last seen near the woods. But despite all the searching Christopher was no where to be found until he suddenly appeared on his own saying a stranger helped him not seeming to know what happened. But as thankful as Kate was to have her son back soon Christopher begins to show signs that something is not quite the same. Now, for me being someone who has read and watched tons and tons of horror over the years I will say this was a solid, creepy tale but not necessarily anything new. As with some early King novels you find this follows the kids a lot but also changes points of view between many characters. It also to me seemed to get a bit draggy which isn’t surprising with the length of it, the first half seemed to also go better than the second but overall I’d give this one 3 1/2 stars. I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley. For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/

  20. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    Started ok, but dragged on way too long. It really should have been half its length. I skimmed to the end and my rating kept shedding stars as I plowed through the nonsense. I am not a fan of Christian fiction and if it had been advertised as such I never would have started the book, and I would have been spared.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I can't believe I didn't DNF this one. It was over 700 pages, and at least half of that could have been edited out to tighten up the plot and get to the action faster. There was a lot of repetition, and seriously, there were multiple climax points of the story. The "big final battle" happened three or four times. Much of the story never made sense, and if it was allegorical, well, it Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I can't believe I didn't DNF this one. It was over 700 pages, and at least half of that could have been edited out to tighten up the plot and get to the action faster. There was a lot of repetition, and seriously, there were multiple climax points of the story. The "big final battle" happened three or four times. Much of the story never made sense, and if it was allegorical, well, it didn't really do well on that front either. Overall, I was invested in a handful of the characters, so I stuck it out for them, but I didn't much enjoy the book. It was a rambling, poorly plotted, "trying too hard to write a Stephen King-esque epic horror fantasy and not succeeding," confusing mess of a book. I hate giving poor reviews of novels, but alas, I promised honesty. I can't really say I recommend this one much at all. --- Review to come upon release, but honestly, this was too long, very weird, rambling and poorly plotted King-wannabe type story. I can't believe I didn't DNF it, honestly.

  22. 5 out of 5

    ABookwormWithWine

    / 5 Welcome to the world of mailbox people and the hissing lady, Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky was the perfect creepy October read! According to an interview with Chbosky that I read on npr.org, it took him about 10 years to write Imaginary Friend, TEN YEARS!! I can only imagine the journey he went on writing this novel. There are plenty of dark themes, and focus on things like relationships, good versus evil and religion, but most importantly LOTS of the creepy and chilling. If I had to ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5 Welcome to the world of mailbox people and the hissing lady, Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky was the perfect creepy October read! According to an interview with Chbosky that I read on npr.org, it took him about 10 years to write Imaginary Friend, TEN YEARS!! I can only imagine the journey he went on writing this novel. There are plenty of dark themes, and focus on things like relationships, good versus evil and religion, but most importantly LOTS of the creepy and chilling. If I had to write this I think it would give me nightmares. I never did read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but now I am definitely going to have to. Imaginary Friend was so well thought out and while I was reading it I felt like it was consuming my life. I had a hard time putting it down, and even though it is a large book at over 700 pages it felt like it was flying by. I loved little Christopher and his mom, and who doesn't love scary deer? I don't think I am ever going to look at deer the same way again after reading this book. Chbosky takes a lot of universal things that people know well - Saturday morning cartoons, being scared of what is under the bed, etc. - and he twists them all into something terrifying in this creeptastic novel. Final Thought: If you love a thick, creepy book then I highly recommend checking this out. I hope Chbosky writes more horror because now I will read anything he writes no matter what the genre, but especially horror. He definitely killed it (no pun intended) with Imaginary Friend.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Janelle | She Reads with Cats

    Thank you Grand Central Publishing for my copy. Stephen Chbosky’s IMAGINARY FRIEND is 720 pages but I promise it is worth every single haunting page. I switched back and forth between the audiobook and physical copy which I highly recommend. Kate Reese escapes an abusive boyfriend with her seven-year-old son Christopher in order to make a better life and ends up in a small suburban town in Pennsylvania called Mill Grove. Christopher is such a sweet, optimistic kid who continues to struggle in Thank you Grand Central Publishing for my copy. Stephen Chbosky’s IMAGINARY FRIEND is 720 pages but I promise it is worth every single haunting page. I switched back and forth between the audiobook and physical copy which I highly recommend. Kate Reese escapes an abusive boyfriend with her seven-year-old son Christopher in order to make a better life and ends up in a small suburban town in Pennsylvania called Mill Grove. Christopher is such a sweet, optimistic kid who continues to struggle in school with dyslexia but is determined to overcome it and always do his best. One day when his mother is late picking him up from school, Christopher disappears without a trace. He is gone for six days before he returns and after that, nothing is ever quite the same. IMAGINARY FRIEND is an incredibly unique story with vivid imagery and fantastic characters. Chbosky is a superbly talented writer and storyteller. This original, bizarre, not-so-little book is written with some very dark themes but done so brilliantly it captivated me from start to finish. I enjoyed the slow build up of the author laying the groundwork and getting to know each character before being thrown into the heart of the story. There are so many moving pieces that are amazingly well done, everything from the “stay out of the woods” aspect to religious undertones, to childhood friendships, to the bond of mother and son. I think it says something that it took the author twenty years to publish this because every strange, creepy detail is thoughtful and written with purpose. If you enjoy a nostalgic, good versus evil horror literary story with child protagonists, then you will eat this book up. Go buy it now!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dennis

    Wow, this book. THIS BIZARRE AND HAUNTING BOOK. When I was in high school, Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower really helped me get a grip on my own inner demons, and it helped me accept myself and my differences with my other classmates in school. That being said, when I heard Chbosky was releasing a book 20 years later, I was curious about it's conception. After reading the synopsis; seeing it as a literary horror/supernatural tale of epic proportions, I knew I needed to get my Wow, this book. THIS BIZARRE AND HAUNTING BOOK. When I was in high school, Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower really helped me get a grip on my own inner demons, and it helped me accept myself and my differences with my other classmates in school. That being said, when I heard Chbosky was releasing a book 20 years later, I was curious about it's conception. After reading the synopsis; seeing it as a literary horror/supernatural tale of epic proportions, I knew I needed to get my hands on it! Imaginary Friend focuses on seven-year old Christopher Reese and his mother Kate. They are moving into a new small town in Western Pennsylvania after escaping Kate's abusive ex-boyfriend. As they settle into their new suburban surroundings, Christopher continues to struggle at work. Christopher is dyslexic, but optimistic, so optimistic, about trying to overcome his shortcomings (I really do love this protagonist so much). When his mother is late to picking him up from school one day, things take a turn for the worse—Christopher disappears for six days! When he returns, everything is not quite what it seems. What exactly happened during those six days will change Christopher and his mother's lives forever. I have never read anything more original than Imaginary Friend . It's clearly a vision that Chbosky held onto for awhile before being able to accurately portray it properly. The imagery in Imaginary Friend is hands down some of the best I've ever read—the beautiful and vivid descriptions and story telling not only amazed me, but let my mind escape into this world. I was completely engulfed and let my imagination run wild with the story. I truly feel that this book has some of the best storytelling that I ever read in my entire life. For 80% of the book, it proved to be one of the most interesting and compelling novels—a sure way to claim the role as my favorite book ever. I had to take a star off my near perfect rating because the end tends to spiral—even though the ending is unexpected and still very original—because it's quite difficult to follow. Plus, with Christopher and his friends only being seven years old, it made me question some aspects of the story. If Christopher and his friends were older, I may have not had as many questions. Overall, Imaginary Friend is a phenomenal story that readers will definitely be sure to enjoy this fall. I would LOVE to see this book become a movie, because I really think there's never been a story like this before. When you read it, please let me know because I need someone to talk to about it! This book will resonate with me for some time.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Baker

    I’m not even sure how to review this, so I’m just going to say whatever comes to mind and hope it helps you in some way. This is the weirdest book I’ve ever read. Keep in mind that I’ve read almost 50 Stephen King novels, so that should tell you the level of weirdness you can expect. I still loved it and I couldn’t stop reading. Actually, I did a read-along with the hardback and the audiobook on Overdrive. Christine Lakin does a fantastic job narrating the audiobook, but some of the book is I’m not even sure how to review this, so I’m just going to say whatever comes to mind and hope it helps you in some way. This is the weirdest book I’ve ever read. Keep in mind that I’ve read almost 50 Stephen King novels, so that should tell you the level of weirdness you can expect. I still loved it and I couldn’t stop reading. Actually, I did a read-along with the hardback and the audiobook on Overdrive. Christine Lakin does a fantastic job narrating the audiobook, but some of the book is visual, because it relies on formatting to get certain messages across such as uppercase letters in the middle of words and dialogue that’s all in lower case. The summary doesn’t really tell you much, not enough in my opinion. The story is completely unpredictable, but I love it when I have no idea what will happen next. It kept me reading just to find out. There were times when I was a little confused, because I didn’t know if something was actually happening in the real world, the imaginary world, or if it was a dream. Eventually, the fog cleared. Every character sounds a little off in some way and some of that is because this book is very atmospheric. I really like the creepy tone. It’s also bloody and a little, but I don’t mind, because I love horror. The pacing was a little slow at times. I think the author was trying to build suspense, but in the process, he made the book longer than it needed to be and gave parts of the book a melodramatic tone. Still, the suspense was killing me, because I knew something big and creepy was lurking around the corner. There was one other thing I didn’t like, but it was something small. I don’t like that one place was called Shady Pines. Anyone who watched the TV show The Golden Girls would know the reference. I can see readers having polar opinions of this one. This has a heavy religious theme, especially the last half of the book and a theme of good versus evil. The religious theme may be a turn off for some readers. I think this book is more suitable for horror fans that enjoy bizarre stories and a heavy dose of WTF?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    Kate Reese and her son Christopher, flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night and end up in the small community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania - just one highway in, one highway out. Everything seems to be going well until Christopher disappears for six days. When Christopher was found, he seems to be a different person – one who doesn’t struggle with reading or learning, helping her mother win the lottery, and a voice that is telling him to build a treehouse in the woods by Kate Reese and her son Christopher, flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night and end up in the small community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania - just one highway in, one highway out. Everything seems to be going well until Christopher disappears for six days. When Christopher was found, he seems to be a different person – one who doesn’t struggle with reading or learning, helping her mother win the lottery, and a voice that is telling him to build a treehouse in the woods by Christmas, or something terrible may happen to everyone. I absolutely adored this book! Though it is 700+ pages, the book read very quickly. It had a lot of elements of the supernatural and it is quite scary in some parts. Horror is not my genre but I simply adored this book. Maybe it’s because I loved Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower from 20 years ago and seeing that he is back with this book really piqued my interest. I am so glad I read this amazing book. I loved every page of this masterpiece. Thank you Netgalley and Grand Central Pub for the arc book copy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tracey

    This is a dense, well thought out, terrifying novel which is great for Stephen King fans. At a whopping 800 pages, I expected it to drag on with lots of filler, but the pacing was actually pretty perfect for me. It's an epic tale of good vs. evil and it's hard to believe it came from the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. So much is happening in this novel. As the description says, the main character is seven year old Christopher, who has just moved to the town of Mill Grove with his This is a dense, well thought out, terrifying novel which is great for Stephen King fans. At a whopping 800 pages, I expected it to drag on with lots of filler, but the pacing was actually pretty perfect for me. It's an epic tale of good vs. evil and it's hard to believe it came from the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. So much is happening in this novel. As the description says, the main character is seven year old Christopher, who has just moved to the town of Mill Grove with his mother, Kate. Chris gets lost in the woods for 6 days. When he wanders out unharmed, he says "The Nice Man" found him and led him to safety. The sheriff assumes Chris was confused in his dehydrated state and imagined it. Kate thinks it's the first signs of mental illness, which took her husband's life. The truth is much more sinister. Chris is suddenly much smarter than he was when he entered the woods. He knows the dark secrets his classmates and teachers are keeping. When people start falling ill and act out with extreme violence, "The Nice Man" tells Chris there is an evil force taking hold of the town, and it will kill everyone on Christmas Day unless they join forces to stop it. We follow several characters, including Chris, his friends, mother and teacher, the Sheriff, the teenaged girl who found Chris near the woods, and some patients in the nursing home where his mother works. The author did a great job at creating the town and filling it with well fleshed-out characters, which is what reminds me of King. This book would make an amazing limited Netflix or HBO series. There are scenes in this book which are truly terrifying and better than most horror movies. It gave me strong ominous vibes throughout the whole story. There are a lot of story lines all happening at once, and plenty of twists and turns, so it may be a bit confusing at times. I think it all came together in the end in a really satisfying way.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)

    Okay dear readers, gather around for a segment called "Unpopular Opinion Time". Imaginary Friend was THE most highly anticipated novel of 2019 for me . I have waited t w e n t y years for a new novel from Stephen Chbosky! His debut novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower is my favorite book of all time so of course I've been looking forward to what he would write next. I was thrilled to learn last year that Chbosky had penned an epic 700 page horror story. I finished Imaginary Friend yesterday and Okay dear readers, gather around for a segment called "Unpopular Opinion Time". Imaginary Friend was THE most highly anticipated novel of 2019 for me .  I have waited t w e n t y years for a new novel from Stephen Chbosky!  His debut novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower is my favorite book of all time so of course I've been looking forward to what he would write next.  I was thrilled to learn last year that Chbosky had penned an epic 700 page horror story. I finished Imaginary Friend yesterday and ... I didn't love it. *hangs head in shame as everyone gasps dramatically* Christopher Reese and his mom Kate haven't had an easy life since Christopher's father's suicide.  They're in debt and now Kate has gathered up her son and a few belongings to escape an abusive relationship. They stop in a small town called Mill Grove, Pennsylvania and Kate feels she's found a safe place for her and her son where they won't be found. Chistopher's never been a great student due to a reading disability, he worries about his mom a lot, and he's bullied regularly.   Christopher vanishes for six days before emerging from the woods, seemingly unharmed.  Suddenly life takes an unexpected turn for Christopher and his mom.  They win the lottery and are able to purchase their own home and climb out of debt.  Christopher begins doing well in school and even has a small group of friends. But then there's the nice man who wants to protect him from the hissing lady in his nightmares and the voice telling him he has to build a treehouse in the woods by Christmas. As the holiday looms large, everyone in Mill Grove seems to be losing their minds.  Voices are telling everyone to prepare for a war and Christopher knows it's up to him to win the war and save the town from the nightmare. My main issues with this book:  Christopher is seven-years-old.  This is a horror novel, obviously I'm going to suspend my disbelief for entertainment purposes, but I have a six-year-old of my own and couldn't wrap my mind around this kid and his friends being only seven.  Christopher's thoughts and actions (even before he vanished) made me imagine him to be older so that when childish thoughts or activities were mentioned, it felt awkward and out of place. Then there's the repetition.  There are several descriptive phrases used multiple times, from the appearance of the treehouse steps being called baby teeth to the cloud that hangs around town being an all-seeing eye.  I mean, I get it, it's symbolic, let's keep this story moving forward. I didn't feel like this book came together until the last quarter, which makes it a bit underwhelming. What I liked about this book:  Chbosky carefully crafts his story by following several characters whose fates are all linked.  It's the tried and true formula for master of horror Stephen King and it was successful here, switching perspectives to advance the story.   I loved the relationship between Christopher and Kate; it was so genuine and I certainly identified with Kate as a mother! The creep-factor on this book was a slow burn.  There wasn't much in the beginning but by the end I had serious goosebumps. Overall, I liked this story.  It tackles the heavy subject of good vs. evil with Biblical symbolism and looks at the way people deal with personal sin.  It's obvious Chbosky took great care in every detail of the plot and the relationships between characters with definite inspiration from Stephen King. It was a loooong set up to get to the heart of the book.  Page count doesn't intimidate me and never factors in to my decision to read a book but in my opinion there were several scenes/chapters that could've been removed or edited down to the benefit the story. If you love stories about kids fighting evil with sinister creepy old school Stephen King horror vibes, Imaginary Friend is worth checking out. Huge thanks to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.  Imaginary Friend is scheduled for release on October 1, 2019. For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    5/5stars wow woW WOW I absolutely LOVED this - I read this 700+ page book in 3 days and wow my thoughts are all over the place but I'll try to put them down here; - I actually thought the length of this was PERFECT, i've seen a lot of people say it dragged or was too slow at the beginning, but to me this was the perfect length to do what this book needed to - i cared SO MUCH about every single character, every single plot line, etc. as well as it built up so much that we needed to know before the 5/5stars wow woW WOW I absolutely LOVED this - I read this 700+ page book in 3 days and wow my thoughts are all over the place but I'll try to put them down here; - I actually thought the length of this was PERFECT, i've seen a lot of people say it dragged or was too slow at the beginning, but to me this was the perfect length to do what this book needed to - i cared SO MUCH about every single character, every single plot line, etc. as well as it built up so much that we needed to know before the end that couldn't have been done in 300 pages like people want in their horror/thrillers - going off of that, i LOVED the build up it was done so perfectly oh my god I've never been so hooked into a book and felt like it was so un-put-down-able - SO. UNIQUE. OH MY GOSH. i've never read ANYTHING like this - TERRIFYING. besides all of the incredibly spooky atmospheric things that happen in this book, I personally have a pretty extreme phobia of deer (shoutout to halley for warning me about this book before I went into it lol) so legit this book was created to scare the shit out of me - don't listen to this book on audio while driving at night in the rain that was a pretty bad move on past kate's part like who let this bitch do that - The plot twists alksjdlkasjdlkasjdkas like whAT - I genuinely feel bad for people saying they didn't like this book because its "christian fiction" (which, its not lol) or hate books immediately for having religious themes, or just having the aspect of god/devil or heaven/hell - even when its HELLA unconventional and speculative like this book like how can people not look past the religious hatred to enjoy such a great story ?? - speaking of which, i loved how religion in this book isn't used as a bad thing or the religious people as bad people like thank you for not being basic 21st century story - the ending alskjdaskl oh my gOD - Parts that should have been cliche werent they were amazing and inspiring and i loved the morals this story explored like YES - the bad cat talking to christopher scene was sO CREEPY - same with the smiling cloud - so many complex characters, so much background and history it was PERFECT - great combo of horror/thriller but also lit fic?? amazing prose I absolutely loved this book and I want to recommend it to everyone but I can also see how it won't be everyone's cup of tea. I'm just SO HAPPY one of my most anticipated releases of the year turned out to be one of my fave books of the year! Edit; I was trying to think of a comparison for this book to describe it and I honestly couldn’t think of one until it just hit me - this is Stephen King and his ideas and wonderful grasp on horror meets Murakami’s weird as fuck worlds and dreamlike atmosphere balled up into a book with beautiful prose by chbosky - some may argue this but that’s exactly the feeling of this book to me

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I enjoyed most of this humongous book a lot more than I normally enjoy what I would rate as a three star read- so I gave it an extra half star. I don't know if I've ever said this before- I think I have my ratings broken down on my about me page, but for me: three stars is what I think of as "safe to skip". 1 or 2 stars is a recommendation to avoid and 4 and 5 stars is recommended to read. I wouldn't necessarily recommend skipping Imaginary Friend, especially if you were looking forward to it, I enjoyed most of this humongous book a lot more than I normally enjoy what I would rate as a three star read- so I gave it an extra half star.  I don't know if I've ever said this before- I think I have my ratings broken down on my about me page, but for me: three stars is what I think of as "safe to skip".  1 or 2 stars is a recommendation to avoid and 4 and 5 stars is recommended to read.  I wouldn't necessarily recommend skipping Imaginary Friend, especially if you were looking forward to it, but I was a little disappointed with this. I want to start by saying the first 60% or so is really pretty good.  I loved the picture we were painted of Christopher and Kate Reese and their lives together.  I loved how we got to know the town and all the little folks populating it.  It actually reminded me a lot of one of my favorite authors, Stephen King, in that way. Here's another way it reminded me of one specific book by King, what started out feeling like Under the Dome with a less evil villain, ended up feeling like The Stand with a scarier villain than Randall Flagg and a whole lot more confusion.  There's a heavy dose of religion and Catholic guilt in this book, and it frustrated me, because I wasn't prepared for it to be included.  As someone who doesn't identify with any particular religion, it just isn't my favorite way to present a classic good vs. evil story.   I was around the 500 page mark or so, thinking the ending was coming soon, wondering what in the heck was populating those last 200 pages.  Well.  The end.  The climax.  The climax is 200 pages long. It was confusing and it bounced around a lot (multiple POVs) and at times I wasn't sure if the characters were actually experiencing the events of the book or if it was all in their imagination.  I was frustrated with my inability to pay attention to the events, distracted by the amounts of symbolism and questioning the meaning of the whole story.  It just wasn't what I want in horror.  I think that's why the term "literary horror" is one we don't often see. The author uses baby teeth as a recurring theme, and while it's probably the ultimate symbol for childhood lost, or adulthood gained, I wasn't sure it was entirely necessary, and it felt like an odd choice.  I mean, who really describes a tree house ladder as looking like baby teeth?  I do think there were some other interesting events that were meant to be metaphoric, that provided plenty of food for thought, but I won't spoil them here. I did like the pacing.  It's 700 pages but most chapters were only a couple pages long.  This is 100% my favorite way to structure a book.  It makes me feel accomplished because I'm reading so "fast" and it's easy to pick up and put down.  I realize this is a silly thing to get hung up on, but I just find reading a book like that much more satisfying. On another positive note, there was no way I ever would have guessed the ending, so be wary of spoilers as you read reviews for this one.  The book does reference some child death's, though I don't recall any of them being too graphic, just a heads up for people who are sensitive to that. Overall this is a long book that reads quickly and would make for good, creepy October read. Thank you to the publisher for sending an ARC for review.

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