Title: Imaginary Friend
Author: Stephen Chboksy
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Page Count: 705
Publication Date: 2019
Category/Genre: Fiction, Horror, Thriller, Mystery, Fantasy, Suspense
Good Reads Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.49)
My Rating: ★★★☆☆(3.5)
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.
I went into reading Imaginary Friend blind. I only knew that it was more of a thriller and Chbosky was a bestselling author that took almost 2 decades to publish his second novel which was drastically different than his first “Perks of Being a Wallflower”.
Although this was more of a slow burn, introducing the characters and building the plot, it became a page-turning saga that I was unable to put down often. Even the beginning had me hooked right from the start.
Imaginary Friend begins with seven-year-old Christopher and his mother Kate escaping from an abusive relationship. They end up in the small town where Christopher’s troubles including the typical adjustments of fitting in at school, overcoming a learning disability, and hoping for stability. When he goes missing for six days in the woods, things really start to take a turn. Once found he can not remember anything, there are no signs of foul play and he now has a new imaginary friend, a mission to build a treehouse, and some incredible ‘powers’.
The treehouse is a portal between the real and imaginary world and Christopher becomes the central figure in a war between good and evil.
“But I’m not afraid anymore because heaven and hell are not destinations. They are decisions.”
There is a very heavy “kids battle evil” vibe that reminded me a lot of ‘stranger things’ . Things are creepy, have an ‘upside down’ realm and it is quite addicting.
The book is definitely mind-bending and quite clever. There is even a masterfully executed twist that had me thumbing back through the pages just to see how Chbosky set it up.
Imaginary Friend is like a roller coaster with tremendous highs and lows, and an extremely sudden, whiplash-inducing twists. Unfortunately, I did think the ending was a bit ‘meh’, with a needlessly drawn-out climax that seemed to just fall flat. Despite that, I would still recommend this to anyone who enjoys darker reads and a bit of ‘stranger things‘.