Imaginary Friend

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Mar 2020

Member Reviews

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.
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This started off really strong, but I gotta be honest with you all: this book was so slow half way through. This book was just way too long with not enough pay off. The biggest meh.
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As much as I wanted to like this book it just didn't work out in my favor.  I found the pacing to be very slow and for a book of this length I need a faster speed. The kids are 7 years old but seem way older and that threw my mind for a loop. I loved Perks of Being A Wallflower and really wanted to enjoy this book but sadly it ended up being a did not finish for me.
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I am a member of the American Library Association Reading List Award Committee. This title was suggested for the 2020 list. It was not nominated for the award. The complete list of winners and shortlisted titles is at 
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I never read his first book, but this story did not entertain me at all. The writing was amateur and the storyline was meh.
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I was a little skeptical because I had read some not so nice reviews on this book, but I decided to see for myself. It takes a particular type of book to scare me and Imaginary Friend is one of those stories that made me only want to read during the day on a crowded train. Different things scare different people and this book contained my scare factor and still gives me chills. The book started off strong and had a good vs. bad horror vibe to it and evil that, of course, messes with kids! That’s what gets me! I had an idea of the who, but the ending still surprised me and was very tastefully done and wrapped up. Then I thought, well this author waited years before coming out with another book so of course he was going to be great!
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I tried to get into this book several times, but I just couldn’t. I have heard so many good things about it. It’s just not for me I guess.
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I never read The Perks of Being a Wallflower. As a result, I don’t know the author’s usual style and won’t be making any comparison here.

Now, to Imaginary Friend.

I love an epic story. You know, a door stopper of a read. And at 720 pages, this counts. But, oh, it takes a long time to get through those pages. In comparison, I just read a book that topped out at 775 pages. I read it in two days. Imaginary Friend took weeks.

Chbosky builds the story at a rather glacial pace. It will take a dedicated reader to finally reach the horror of the piece, some 200 pages in. The first couple hundred pages are spent fleshing out our characters and dropping little hints about the dark history of our town.

Once we get to the meat of the story, things start moving briskly. The story is eerie and, at times, scary. The horror – once it comes – is well done.

I loved our characters. In fact, my love for them is what kept me returning to the book. Chbosky builds fully fleshed characters we absolutely love and fear for.

Ultimately, it’s a good story. However, I think that some readers may lose their patience at the book’s pace and give up long before anything actually happens.

3 stars. Though I loved the horror once it came, the book became more work than pleasure.
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Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for providing me with a copy of Stephen Chbosky’s novel, Imaginary Friend, in exchange for an honest review.

Strange things are happening in the small, Pennsylvania town of Mill Grove. The town has been plagued with missing children spanning over several generations, inspiring urban legends. Kate Reese is escaping an abusive relationship and she decides to make a fresh start for herself and her seven-year-old son, Christopher, in Mill Grove. On the surface, it appears to be an idyllic town, but soon Christopher is swept up in the horrors that have befallen other children of the community. It all begins when Christopher makes an imaginary friend that he names “The Nice Man.”

I love horror and I have never been legitimately freaked out until Imaginary Friend. The horror and graphic imagery is on a level that almost made me quit the book. I’m quite honestly shocked by how much Chbosky’s novel affected my sleep and invaded my imagination. He’s an incredible writer.

Chbosky’s story assaults the reader in multiple ways. He balances intense descriptions that leave little to the imagination, with gaps that allow the reader to imagine the worst. I read that Imaginary Friend is in development to be made into a movie or TV series. I don’t think that I could handle it and I seriously can’t imagine how any visual could match or be worse than what I was creating in my mind.  The action, especially in the last half of the story, is virtually non-stop and at a break-neck pace. I kept catching myself holding my breath from the intensity. There are several great plot twists that I did not see coming. 

Imaginary Friend  is one of the most unexpected books that I have ever read. It’s a roller coaster ride. I think I was caught off-guard primarily because it is so vastly different than Chbosky’s best-selling novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I loved The Perks of Being a Wallflower and was excited to see his much-anticipated follow-up. I’m sure many readers will pick up Imaginary Friend, based on their love for The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and they may be left disappointed. The books are so dissimilar and horror, especially this level of horror, is not going to be everyone’s cup-of-tea. However,  it’s awesome that Chbosky wrote a wildly different type of story. He took a risk. He wrote the story that he needed to tell. I have so much respect for him. 

My only criticism is that the story felt long. It is long, coming in at around seven-hundred pages. The pacing wasn’t slow, but it was too long to live in that particular story world. It’s a stressful read and I wanted out. It also suffers from a glut of action at the end of the story, pushing Imaginary Friend to continue beyond the point of where it felt like the story should have ended. It was along the lines of an action movie that has one too many explosions or car wrecks, or the horror film when the villain rises from the dead, but in this case, it was several resurrections too many. 

This criticism aside, I found Imaginary Friend to be a highly memorable read. Chbosky has a unique voice and a crazy brain for horror writing. You’ll never look at deer the same way. It will also make you reevaluate any imaginary friends that your kids might have at the moment.

It was so darn creepy, that I have the chills just writing this review!
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Initial Thoughts
I liked this book. I have not read The Perks of Being a Wallflower so I had the opportunity to look at this book with fresh eyes. Chbosky is most definitely a fine storyteller. There is a whole lot going on in this book and I loved it when a piece of the overall puzzle would snap into place. I felt fully immersed in this world and wanted nothing more than to see Christopher come out of everything better than when he went in. I listened to the audiobook and I thought that the narrator did a fantastic job with this story. 

Review copy provided by the publisher and I borrowed a copy of the audiobook from my local library. Full review to be posted soon.
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4 Stars!

I am not sure what it was that called my attention to Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky but something about the book just called out to me. I was hoping to find an entertaining and scary read and was quick to find out that I would not be disappointed. 
 
The move was a new start for Christopher and his mother.  She had finally found the courage to leave an abusive relationship after the death of her husband.  Something good needed to happen for her and, more importantly, for her son.  Then came the ultimate in horror for a mother when Christopher went missing.  The horror ended six days later when Christopher stumbled out of the woods.  Or so it seemed.  In the end, however, the terror had only just begun. 
 
The truth of the matter is that something had entered Christopher.  At first, things seemed to have turned around for the family as they won the lottery and were able to move into a new house.  Little did they know that Christopher had become a pawn in the battle between heaven and hell.  The devil was determined to be set free on Earth and the town was set to become the final battlefield in a war that would determine the future of mankind forever. 
 
The novel instantly sunk its teeth in me.  I was quickly drawn into the world of the book and lost myself in the events.  I found the characters to be fairly well formed if a little formulaic at times but I still found myself sympathizing with Christopher and his mother.  There was enough of a backstory to give some depth to what was happening in the present and I started to care about the events.  It reminded me a lot of some of Stephen King’s novels in that there are a lot of characters and their personal narratives weave together throughout the novel.  This did slow things down a little bit at times but that did not stop me at all through the first half of the novel.  I was ready and eager to find out what was going to happen next.  Then the second half of the novel came around and it was time to build up to the climax of the novel. 
 
The main criticism I saw of this novel is that it is too long and there is some validity to this criticism.  While I enjoyed the novel in its entirety, it did tend to bog down at times in the second half as the various storylines of the different characters began to draw together.  There is a little bit of work needed to get through the second half of the book that could have been cut down.  I understand what Chbosky was going but it was slightly tedious at times and the urgency of the story strayed from the main narrative.  In all, though, this is a very good novel that presents an entertaining and unique look at the apocalypse that may or may not be averted.  It is apparent that Chbosky has a strong sense of character and that is what carried the story for me even when the narrative bogged down a bit.  This novel is not going to be for everyone but it worked for me in the end. 
 
I would like to thank NetGalley and Grand Central Publishing for this review copy.  Imaginary Friend is available now.
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This is an impressive follow up to Stephen Chbosky's debut novel. The length isn't that intimidating because once you get into the groove of the story, you don't want to stop reading. Not every book needs to be finished in a week's time (have patience). I will say I found the writing to be a tad simplistic and some of the metaphors used to be a little cliche. However, because this story is mainly from Christopher's perspective, it actually helps me connect to him as a character more. Despite wishing for more in terms of prose, I strangely appreciated the direct form of storytelling. I found myself invested in the story as it builds up. Chboksy knows the recipe for good storytelling!

There's a lot that will conflict readers but I think that's what makes a good book... something that makes you think, whether you loved it or hated it.
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Wow! This book blew my expectations out of the water. Make no mistake, this book really was a behemoth. I’m typically not a fan of horror novels, but I had to force myself to put this one down at night. It drew me in and wouldn’t let me go! Imaginary Friends reminded me of Stranger Things and IT — in the very best ways possible. I could even see some traces of C. S. Lewis in these pages.

Be warned, too, that this story contains content that could be triggers for many readers. Abuse, violence, missing children, and religious themes run strong. There was a lot of profanity, and some of the scenes reminded me of nightmares. Readers are sure to feel twinges from the emotional pain and suffering that characters endured. There are so many feel good moments, though. I loved the main characters Christopher and his mom, Kate. The side characters played important roles, too.

Some of the reviews for this book were less than stellar, but I decided to give it a try anyway. So glad I did! It ranks as one of my favorites. This story makes me think about the world differently.
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Thank you for the ARC #netgalley!
This book surprised me in many different ways. I didn't expect the creepy vibe at all, and went into it with zero knowledge of the plot or themes of the book. 
It captured my attention right away, but that slowly tapered off toward the end and I had a hard time finishing it. I finally did, and I'm satisfied.
Don't go into this book expecting it to be anything at all like POBAW, because it's nothing like that.
If you are a creepy/thriller/strange reader- this one is for you!

overall I give this book a 3.5 star rating.,
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This was a long awaited book from Chbosky and it does not disappoint. It follows the famous debut Perks of a Wallflower but is a completely different genre and experience. This has some difficulties with the writing, in that the story probably could be told in about 2/3 of the pages. With that said, I would still say it is worth the read anyway! 
The story is engaging and spooky/creepy. It definitely scratches the itch for this genre if you are inclined to read something with these vibes. 
Highly recommend to those that love Stephen King or Tremblay.
#ImaginaryFriend #Netgalley #GrandCentralPublishing #StephenChbosky
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This chilling book needs to be on your shelves. If you love King than this is one you should get. I'm not typically one for crazy full horror stories, but this one whilst 720 or something pages, was worth every page turn and dilated eye. You all should be on the lookout for this author because his writing and storytelling needs more attention and hype than from what I've heard. this was spectacular and intriguing. Page gripping from the start.
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What a creepy book! It did get a little too religious/preachy for my personal preferences. I don’t like it when stories like this become nothing more than a sermon about heaven and hell, but that is me. Still, I did enjoy it until they revealed the forces behind the disappearances, and it gave me strange dreams while reading it. That is what you hope to experience in any horror story.
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I've never read Chbosky before but this one intrigued me because I had heard it was a horror. The beginning was intriguing but this book just dragged a lot. I think I wouldn't enjoyed it more if it had been pared back in the last half.
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It's long, it's very long, but that is really necessary. This is one creepy horror book that keeps creeping up on you while you read it. Great writing, loved it
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The first 3/4 of this book were brilliant! I couldn't put it down, then things went down hill. The plot seemed to do a complete 180 and veered off in a direction that was unexpected and not in a good way.
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