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.
Going into this book, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I don’t remember much from reading Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower but I know it wasn’t close to the horror genre. The beginning caught my attention. David Olson (although I know he doesn’t really talk he shows up quite a bit) is an interesting character. He reminds me a little bit of the imaginary friend in The Shining- one of those characters where you’re not sure if they’re helpful but scary or just plain scary.
A lot of elements in Imaginary Friend reminded me of Stephen King’s works in fact. The main resemblance I saw was the underlying religious theme (good versus evil or in this case Devil versus God) and the number 217. Of course Stephen King doesn’t own 217 but to use it in a horror novel….I think you can see where I’m going with this. The plot goes along a lot faster than a traditional Stephen King novel which I was glad (although I will say 700 pages is a lot) and the writing style was different.
I was mostly neutral about the characters. I was rooting for them and everything but I’m going to be putting any of them on a favorite characters list. Christopher’s mother was probably my favorite. She was badass. And she was smart. Maybe I’ve seen way too many horror movies where the characters never act smart enough but she consistently assessed the situation and made the best move she could. I held a lot of respect for her character.
When I think about it, I liked the beginning of the book. The horror was there, the characters were interesting to some extent, and I was engaged in the plot. It was the ending that lost me. I’ll give more detail in the spoiler section because it’s the direction that Chbosky took with the story that I was not a fan of.
Now to the ending. It reminded me of The Stand. For those who haven’t read The Stand, pretty much what happens is the good and evil face off (the evil being led by the devil). In short, the bad people all blow up and die. In Imaginary Friend, Christopher who is being trained to become God defeats the devil who is not the hissing lady. I didn’t see that coming- mostly because it made a lot of sense for the hissing lady to be bad. I mean- she’s the one that spread the itch thing that made everyone try to kill each other. And now you’re telling me she’s good? I can get behind the nice man being evil but some of the things the hissing lady has done are questionable.
It turns out the whole book was about how everyone has some good in them (or at least that is what I got from it.) The reason why I didn’t like that was because I was not looking for a happy ending. If I wanted a happy ending, I would’ve picked up a romance novel.
So that comes to the question you may or may not be asking. If you hated the book so much why did you give it three stars? Great question. The writing wasn’t bad so a single star didn’t fit and I didn’t give it two stars because the horror element was that good. If more people had died, maybe I would’ve rated it higher.
I suppose where I’m going with this review is if you are someone who wants horror but also an optimistic ending, read this book. If you scare easily but still love to read creepy things, consider this book and avoid reading at night.