I have been working through a full reading of Stephen King’s works for the past year, and took a pause to check out this hidden gem. Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chobsky was a suggested read from Audible based on my listening trends. The title and spooky cover immediately grabbed my attention! Afterwards, I was unexpectedly blown away by this step outside of my current Stephen King horror binge.
What Is It About?
Imaginary Friend is a horror novel written by Stephen Chobsky, and if you think you know Stephen Chobsky from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, you are in for a wild ride! Christopher Reese and his mother, Kate Reese, are on the run from an abusive relationship before settling in a new, quiet town to start over. Everything seems to be falling into place for them until Christoper goes missing for six days.
When Christopher is found, he has no recollection of where he has been for the last six days, or how he found his way out of the woods, except that a “nice man” helped him. However, Christopher himself seems dramatically changed. His new inner narrative seems to give him unique insights, yet also seem to reflect ravings of a lunatic’s mind. This is the beginning of our journey into the “imaginary world”, but is this world actually imaginary? Surely this story is too fantastical to be reality, but when the real world and the imaginary world start to collide – it becomes clear that there is something much larger at play here.
This book is my favorite type of psychological thriller, and reading it was an experience reminiscent of Fight Club or American Psycho. This novel is action packed and hard to put down. With an ever evolving plot, the reader is left with ever evolving questions. A mind-blowing twist is expected – but it is nothing you could have predicted! Kate Reese’s fierce protectiveness of her son, and her unwavering insistence to believe the extraordinary had me drawing many parallels to Stranger Things.
I started reading this novel without immediately recognizing the author’s name. There are quite a few easter eggs in this book with a nod to Stephen King, (it’s 2:17, do you know where your children are?), so much so that between this and the writing style, I found myself wondering if this actually WAS Stephen King writing this novel. Upon further research, I realized that this author had written The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which left me puzzled, to say the least. It was only after seeing that he had done some in-person book signings that I was fully convinced that Stephen Chobsky is NOT, in fact, Stephen King himself trying to pull the wool over our eyes.
Stephen Chobsky has an excellent and descriptive writing style, and we get a detailed back story for almost all of the characters in the book – everyone having a part to play. No stone is left unturned and Stephen Chobsky does an excellent job giving us the entire story we want and need while keeping our attention captivated.
What Did Not Work
I feel like this book continued past where a natural ending should have occurred. The last parts of the book become too fantastical, in my opinion, and I feel the book suffers for it. It becomes almost too confusing to follow, and leaves the reader with more questions than answers.
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading this book, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys the horror genre. The writing is stellar, the plot is riveting, and the story it tells is fantastic. It was a huge surprise learning that the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower wrote this book, and I think it’s awesome that he stepped so far out of the genre he is known for to write this book. Although needlessly long and overly wordy, these do not detract from the work as spectacular overall.
Lisa is a lifetime horror fan and constant reader originally hailing from upstate New York. She is certifiably obsessed with all things Stephen King and her family may or may not be currently planning an intervention. Her love of reading and writing is only matched by her love of dogs. After spending many years in the world of dog training and pet sitting, she has decided to finally move towards her childhood dream of becoming a published writer.