Is no secret that The Perks of Being A Wallflower is one of my favorite books of all time so I just knew I had to read whatever this author released next. However, horror it’s not a genre I usually go for so I was hesitant to what would I find and that is why I put it down for so long. But in the end, I knew that no matter how long I procrastinated with it, I would eventually come back to Stephen Chbosky, regardless of the genre he chose to embark himself with. That is how, a year and seven-hundred pages later, we are here! Welcome to my spoiler-free review of Stephen Chbosky’s second book, Imaginary friend.
Author: Stephen Chbosky
Publication date: October 1st, 2019
Main characters: Christopher Reese, Kate Reese, Sheriff, Ambrose Olson, Mary Katherine, Special Ed, Mike, Matt
Sequel, number in series, or stand-alone? Stand-alone
Previous book: –
Following book: –
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
“We all have this experience really, on the ground — or roof if you’re a city kid. You look up in the clouds and you see the shapes, you say “it looks like a dog, a hammer, a face, whatever.” And my “what if” was, what if a little boy realized that, for the last two weeks, it was always the same face looking at him?
That’s where it started. And then I thought of this moment outside of his school, where he’s all alone and the last of the buses pull away, and he looks up — and what was a small face is now almost as big as the sky. And he says to the cloud, “Hello, can you hear me?” And there’s a little thunderclap in the distance that could be a coincidence. So, he says, “If you can hear me, blink your left eye.” And the cloud slowly does, unblinks, and then it floats away.
That’s what I had. And it was fascinating to me. And I wanted to know where that cloud was going, and I wanted to know why it was going, and I wanted to know what was behind it. And a 10-year journey later I have all the answers.”
-Stephen Chbosky in his interview for NPR
“Imaginary Friend” follows the story of seven-year-old Christopher Reese who moves to a new town with his mother after fleeing her abusive ex. One day after school, the boy follows a face in the clouds to the mysterious woods where he disappears for six days. When he returns, everything seems normal, there are no injuries or even bruises, just a sudden intelligence.
And a new friend.
This book was written over the course of ten years. Every month, every day, every second the author spent planning, thinking, imagining this story can be seen through the words and pages like floods, floods, floods, creating this imaginary world that is so real. He plays with the reader’s mind until we no longer know who to trust, so much so that we start losing the perception of what’s real and what’s imaginary. In this book, Stephen takes all these universal experiences we all went through as kids and turns them, just the smallest of changes, to make us look at the world from a different perspective.
I think that is the reason why I and many who have read this book find this experience so relatable, we can’t identify with the hell Christopher endures, but we all can see ourselves in different moments of his childhood, working parents can see themselves in Kate Reese, all while navigating the supernatural events that are shaking this tiny town to its core.
If you ask me what it’s that makes this book a real horror story, I would not say the monsters that crawl under Christopher’s bed, not the creepy deer, or the hissing lady. Not what hides in the dark, but the faces he sees every day, in plain daylight. Chbosky uses the people of Mill Grove to create very human and very real terror, we see what happens when traumas drift with fear and paranoia, the darkness of the world.
If God were arrested for murder, what would the people do with Him?
If God were arrested for murder, would people ask for the death penalty?
“Imaginary Friend” is a book that pivots a great deal in God and religion, making, throughout the characters and their story, and in-depth analysis of fate. What happens to those who believe so much that their fate it’s all they can see? What happens to those so cynical, that refuse to look at the skies? Is God our savior? Or a murderer? The bible says that sooner or later, we will all pay for our sins, but when will He pay for His?
This novel got me on the verge of my seat the whole time, it’s full of an enigma that we think is leading us to one place but then it leads to a completely different thing, the Imaginary Side is one of the most complex, well-built Worlds that I ever had the pleasure of reading, it all made sense in a sickening matter and it was interesting to see how it all impacted in our real world.
700 pages feel like 50 in this book, the author uses short chapters which I think is a great strategy to make the process more bearable for the reader, it really felt like less when I read it.
Over the course of this book, many people try to trick Christopher into believing one thing or the other, making him and us readers wary of who to trust. There is a major plot-twist that even though I hadn’t anticipated, the possibility of it did cross my mind and it was not the most original thing in the world and even though I do consider the length of this book necessary, I agree with the fact that the endgame should have definitely be reduced, becoming a bit repetitive at times.
Christopher goes through many things during this book, turning him wearier at every turn but in the end, the absolute number one person he needs to figure out whether or not he can trust is himself.
FOR THOSE WHO LOVED THE PERKS (…)
As I mentioned earlier, The Perks of Being A Wallflower is a book that spoke to my soul in ways very few others did and I partly embarked on this journey due to that same reason, to see if I could find that voice again.
And I have to say that it amazed me how this man managed to take something so different from Charlie, like Christopher, a 7-year-old living in a damned town and making it so heart-achingly similar. The deep, intense, and reflective characters are there, so are the bonds that run stronger than any blood, filled with beautiful flowers as well as rotten branches, the strong empathy that I felt for Christopher, his friends, his mother it’s all so crucial. Even though their stories couldn’t be further apart from mine, I could feel them all as one omniscient, like a God. Imaginary Friend will never take the place The Perks owns in my heart but it’s still a great book.
Because if we see through the supernatural, and the monsters and the horrors of that town, the heart, and soul of the book remains the same: a story about a mother and a son, about being young and vulnerable.
“I want every single person who picks a copy of my book to get more than their money’s worth. I want them to get their time’s worth.”
I think that is all I have for you today but, if you are interested in my rants, you can follow me on Goodreads, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, where I like to get a little goofier. And if you want more content about books, stay tuned to the blog!
And remember, even if sometimes feels like it, you´re not alone, there´s always something rooting for you. But if you feel that no one out there is, I would happily be that person, here´s my email if you ever need someone to talk to, I will respond. email@example.com