Welcome back to the second week of Spies, Murder and Mystery! Celebrating my release of A Spy Like Me!
Today we have Nova Ren Suma with us. She’s the author of Fade Out and Imaginary Girls. Both will be released in paperback in June with new covers! I read this book called Imaginary Girls and ended up loving it! The mythical relationship between sisters is not easy to show and having an older sister, I related. So I asked Nova to talk to us about mysterious girls.
Nova has run some incredible blog series about Turning Points and authors of upcoming releases. Check them out if you haven’t yet.
I’m drawn to mysterious characters. The characters who give you pause, who make you question. The ones you need to know more about… And then you discover that the more you know, the more mystery there is to unravel. They’re complex. They’re flawed. They’re impossible to truly know, which to my mind makes them all the more real. I think that’s why I created Ruby, the larger-than-life older sister in my novel Imaginary Girls, or, really, why Ruby found me and forced me to sit down and write about her. I wanted to know who she was, and she wanted to play a cruel little game with me to keep me guessing.
It’s the mystery of Ruby that propels that novel—and so much of that comes from telling the story in the voice, and through the lens, of Chloe, the younger sister who idolizes every single thing Ruby does and yet still doesn’t fully understand her. She can’t. I admit I loved telling Ruby’s story through those eyes. I never want a mysterious girl to be stripped of all her mystery.
I wonder where this fascination came from. Even in my first published novel—originally titled Dani Noir, but you’ll see a new version of it on shelves this June called Fade Out—my narrator, Dani, goes searching for a mysterious femme fatale in her small sleepy town, even if there’s no true “femme fatale” to be found for miles. There are the secrets. The lies told behind closed doors. And how Dani idolizes a true mystery girl on-screen, none other than Rita Hayworth, star of glamorous noir movies like Gilda.
Even my upcoming book, 17 & Gone—which is such a mystery I haven’t revealed the summary yet!—is peopled with a whole cast of mysterious girls. You might just say the book wouldn’t exist without them.
I’m simply intrigued by a girl who inspires questions. And I don’t want easy answers.
So who are some mysterious girls from books I’ve read that catch my imagination?
Hannah in 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher: The whole story is set up to unravel Hannah and reveal why she chose to take her own life. Once the truth is exposed, it’s heartbreaking.
Bev in The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour: Colby can’t keep his eyes off Bev, and neither can we. Why does Bev do what she doe—say one thing and then change her mind and do another?
Mandarin in Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard: I remember being drawn to girls like this when I was in high school, wanting to be their friend, never at first realizing what dark, unruly secrets they kept hidden.
Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote: I know this one isn’t YA, but I can’t help but be obsessed with the mysterious, fascinating figure who makes this novel what it is. We only see her through the eyes of another, and we never quite catch up to her.
Francie in The Blonde of the Joke by Bennett Madison: In this novel, Val tries to be like her gorgeous, exciting new friend Francie, but who is Francie, really? And what does becoming like Francie really entail?
Margo Roth Spiegelman in Paper Towns by John Green: It’s an obsession with the girl next door that drives this mystery and the ensuing adventure adventure. We want to climb out the window and follow her into the night.
Who are some mysterious girls you find yourself drawn to in books?
Comment to win a pre-order of the Imaginary Girls paperback or a signed copy when Nova receives her author copies. Your choice! And please tweet with @laurapauling. Thanks!
Instead of signing off for two weeks, I want to try something different. For the next two weeks I’ll post my book recommendations. Books from this past year that I really enjoyed, okay, loved!
Because the frantic Christmas countdown is on! And I still have Christmas cards to mail. Presents to wrap. Cookies to burn. Self imposed deadlines to meet. Squirrels to torment and scare off, I mean feed with little special nut cakes. And of course sit on my duff and indulge in some eggnog by the fire.
So here are my first two picks.
IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma
I absolutely loved the beautiful writing, the mysterious story, and the relationship between the sisters.
And the new paperback cover:
BECOME by Ali Cross
When I saw the cover I knew I wanted to read it. I never know when I read a self published book what it’s going to be like. But this one was terrific. The writing. The story. The characters. Worth reading.
Know that I’ll be reading your blogs this next week but most likely won’t be commenting! Feel free to leave your book recs in the comments all week!
Hope you are all farther ahead in your Christmas prep than I am! Yikes!
Nothing proved to me how subjective this business is until I read and loved IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma and then read the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
I mean I loved this book. Gorgeous prose and a voice that pulled me through the book. A combination of creepy, paranormal, and mystery.
And no one denies any of that in the reviews.
The biggest complaint is that the magic or paranormal aspect in the book was never explained. The term plot holes was used.
Some said the characters weren’t likeable. Ruby and Chloe (the narrator) were not good role models. #itotallydisagreed #lovedthem
Some said by the end they realized there was no point to the story.
Harsh? Right? I would argue against all those points!
Please don’t let that deter you from reading. I think the story was misunderstood. And it helped that before reading, I knew some things wouldn’t be explained. I was prepared.
As I see it, this story was a tall tale. A myth. A metaphor for the love of two sisters who have a crappy life. The older sister Ruby seems to have a magical hold on the town and on her sister, Chloe. But when you understand that these two girls are half-sisters whose dads aren’t in their lives and their mom is a drunk? They basically raised themselves. It’s a bit easier to understand their eccentric behavior.
In a tall tale the unexplained happens all due to the power of an emotion. It’s not meant to be explained. That would detract from the magic. Ruby comes to the conclusion that her sister is able to bend the rules of physics because of their bond, their love for each other. And for the magic to be explained and there to be a believable explanation for what happens with the dead body and why the whole town bends to Ruby’s desires would detract from the whole point of the story.
Love is powerful.
You can disagree. But don’t the let the reviews deter you from this delicious book. There were plenty of five star ratings too. Honestly? It’s this kind of writing and story that separates the traditional published and the self-published. For me.
Do low-starred reviews deter your from buying a book? Do you ever find a discrepancy based on subjectivity?