Author: Anya Parrish. Release date: 2011. Publisher: Flux. ISBN: 9780738727004.
Review: Creepy, exciting and romantic, this debut novel by author Anya Parrish makes for a mind-bending adventure full of twists and turns. Almost from the first pages, the author lets the reader know that they are in for something different. The basic concept behind the novel is something that seems promising even when taken at face value: homicidal imaginary friends. When Dani’s “friend” Rachel is introduced, the image created is quite horrifying: Rachel is a rambunctious little girl who keeps Dani from feeling lonely in the hospital. When Dani is finally able to see her friend’s face, however, she discovers that her mouth is a gaping line that oozes blood whenever she smiles. Rachel’s constant determination to murder Dani would be almost comical if the little eight-year-old in every reader wasn’t frightened by the idea of the imaginary friend gone bad. Parrish accomplishes a lot with her creation of the “Rachel” character, and this is the strongest element of the novel. Of course, like most young adult books, there is a romantic male lead in the form of bad boy Jesse. The novel is told in alternating voices between Jesse and Dani, and it is revealed early in the story that Jesse was also plagued by an evil imaginary monster when he was younger: a vicious dragon he simply referred to as “The Thing.” Not much more can be said about the plot without giving away too much of the story, but the novel dives into many different genres as it progresses, from horror to mystery to spy-thriller. The result is a very enjoyable book that can be enjoyed by both teens and adults equally.
Reading level: Grade 8+
Similar titles: Darkest Powers series by Kelley Armstrong.
Themes: Imaginary friends, murder, death, illness, accidents, experimentation, romance.
Awards/Reviews: Positive reviews from best-selling authors Jessica Verday and Caitlin Kittredge.
Series Information: Unclear, but ending of novel points to possibility of sequels.
- Who did you find scarier: Rachel or the Thing? Why?
- Did you think that Dani and Jesse fell for each other quickly? Is this realistic? Why or why not?
- What were your initial impressions about the truth behind what was happening to Dani and Jesse? Did they change as the story went on?
- Were you surprised to learn the truth about Rachel and the Thing?
- What would you like to see happen next in Dani and Jesse’s story? Do you think there will be a sequel to this novel? If so, would you read it?