A review by thewingsofwatto824
Imaginary Friend, by Stephen Chbosky

dark mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No


Here we have an ambitious book written with immediacy and overflowing with specific imagery. It is also a book of two halves. The first 350 pages are an unsettling, engaging, ambiguous mystery that plays more like a psychological drama. That part of the book is an easy 4 or 4.5/5 -- I was binge reading it and felt completely gripped.

Unfortunately the second half of the book brings the entire novel down. For a start, there is substantial bloat in those last 350 pages, particularly in the last 200 pages. Scenarios with similar structure keep playing out with too little variety. The reader becomes impatient and even bored. The tension dissipates as we simply wait for another method of our heroes to escape danger. It becomes predictable and it began as just the opposite.

Also, without getting into spoilers as to how or why, the book reveals itself to be an overtly Christian text. As a result, the delicious, creepy uncertainty of the novel's terrific first half becomes blunt, binary, and far too black and white. I think you may find yourself smirking or even laughing at how silly it becomes, while keeping the straightest possible face. 

Mr. Chbosky knows how to intrigue the reader and his short chapter lengths are very generous for the neurodivergent book lover. However, it seems as if the final product is a first or second draft. Perhaps his greatest flaw as a writer is his annoying technique of "Having sentences. Written out. Like this. For no reason." Sure, it helps me read it faster but it ends up being a distraction and makes for poor prose. On another note, did we really need a blind character to be described multiple times as "blindly" looking for an object? Come on!

Mr. Chbosky is a talented writer and this book is no waste of time. His first half is simply too enthralling to dismiss this entire book, and even in the slog of a back half, I still found myself occasionally moved or creeped out. Unfortunately, the book as a whole is simply too messy, biting off more than it chew and leaving the reader very unsatisfied.