Thursday, March 19, 2015

DNF Review: The Imaginary (A.F. Harrold)

The Imaginary
Title: The Imaginary
Series: standalone
Author: A.F. Harrold
Illustrations: Emily Gravett
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy
Content Rating: Middle Grade (Chapters 1-5: seriously creepy situations)
Format Read: ARC (publisher)
Find It OnGoodreads

Rudger is Amanda’s best friend. He doesn't exist, but nobody's perfect.

Only Amanda can see her imaginary friend – until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda's door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he's sniffed out Rudger. Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. But can a boy who isn’t there survive without a friend to dream him up?

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DNF Review
(DNF at Chapter 5)
"Amanda was dead."
This first sentence was only the beginning of a disturbing and dark children's story about an imaginary friend, his imaginative girl, and the creepy evil man and even creepier imaginary friend hunting them.

I was really excited to read this story, expecting a scary but exciting adventure. Instead, it turned out to be something out of nightmares. While it did have a playful undertone, the dark and creepy overtones smothered it for me, and the chilling illustrations made me shudder. Other reviews have noted that a lot of the creepy bits (like the predatory man staking out their house and then stalking the kids) would probably go over a young child's head, but I can't imagine the illustrations wouldn't cause some nightmares. It's one thing to read such descriptions, entirely another to stare into the dark sockets of an eyeless girl, or a bottomless pit of a mouth as it sucks you in.

Although the ungainly writing style took a few chapters to get used to, the characters seemed realistic (especially the children) and any playtime was fun and imaginative. But the plot was simply too dark and disturbing for me to continue into Chapter 5. I did peek at the end and it appears to be a happy, if melancholy, one. But I also glanced at some of the illustrations along the way and have no desire to read the rest of the story to reach it.

While writing this review I discovered The Imaginary is supposed to be "in the vein of Coraline," and as one who was totally creeped out by and unable to finish the Neil Gaiman story as well, I readily agree with this comparison.

For Fans Of: horror, Coraline

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