Book Review: The Imaginary

Posted February 26, 2015 by Kara in book review, Kara / 1 Comment

Book Review: The ImaginaryThe Imaginary by A.F. Harrold
Published by Bloomsbury on March 3, 2015
Genres: fantasy, middle grade
Pages: 224
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

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?

A brilliantly funny, scary and moving read from the unique imagination of A.F. Harrold, this beautiful book is astoundingly illustrated with integrated art and colour spreads by the award-winning Emily Gravett.

How to describe The Imaginary in a nutshell? Adorably creepy. Can that even be a thing? Because that’s what this is. With a tone reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, there’s a horrid villain, a mangy cat, an imaginary dog, and a whole lot of cute.

I don’t read middle grade often, but reading more of it is one of my resolutions in 2015. I’m off to a great start as two of the six books I have read have been middle grade, and there are a lot more planned for the future. The Imaginary was the second, and I have to say, I was worried at first. The voice is really young and I was concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to connect. And how hard is it to write a review of a book when you know that it’s not the book’s fault but your age? Anyway, I was mostly able to look past that but it took time.

Here’s the thing. Even though I had personal issues, I could tell this is a very special book. And I would hazard a guess that this is going to be a candidate for award season. The illustrations are adorable, and since I think they are going to be in full color in the finished book, I can only imagine how much more vivid they will be. The writing is excellent, and it’s not lost on me that the title of this book reflects the author’s imagination. 😛

The tone of the novel is pretty creepy but I wasn’t as disturbed while reading this as I was during Coraline. I don’t know what it was about that book but I just couldn’t enjoy it. I recognized its value, but it just wasn’t for me. A weird coincidence struck later when I was chosen as team leader of Team Coraline at the Kids’ Author Carnival during BEA last year. But I digress.

This worked out much better for me. Because it was about friends, family, finding your way home, and imaginary friends. I had one of those when I was a kid and it was an interesting concept reading through the eyes of an imaginary character. Or WAS he imaginary? Anyway, I really enjoyed it. I highly recommend it, and I am sending a copy to my husband’s classroom. Thanks to the publisher for sending it to me.


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