Imaginary Friend

Imaginary Friend

by Stephen Chbosky


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A young boy is haunted by a voice in his head in this "haunting and thrilling" epic of literary horror from the #1 NYT bestselling author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Lincoln Child).

Christopher is seven years old.

Christopher is the new kid in town.

Christopher has an imaginary friend.

We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with her child. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It's as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Twenty years ago, Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower made readers everywhere feel infinite. Now, Chbosky has returned with an epic work of literary horror, years in the making, whose grand scale and rich emotion redefine the genre. Read it with the lights on.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781538731338
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 10/01/2019
Pages: 720
Sales rank: 11,242
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.90(d)

About the Author

Stephen Chbosky is the author of the multi-million-copy bestselling debut novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower. In 2012, Chbosky wrote and directed an acclaimed film adaptation of his novel, starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller. He also directed the acclaimed 2017 film Wonder starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay. Imaginary Friend is Chbosky's long-awaited second novel.

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Imaginary Friend 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous 28 days ago
This book consumed me. Every fantasy, every nightmare, every obsession, religiously warped, insane thought is in this book. I rarely recommend books. This one will grab you by the twisted ends of your hair and pull hard!
Anonymous 3 months ago
This book was amazing & so creepy! The pacing is excellent, despite the length, the story never lagged - not even for a second. The depth of the characters, the way the story lines weave together, and the overarching theme of the story, make for one of the best books I've read in a longgg time. The creepy, other-worldy surrealness, and end-of-the-world stakes kind of remind me of 1Q84 meets N0S4A2, but with even more layers. I finished it in about 2 days, because I just could not put it down. Needless to say, I absolutely loved it!!
Wayne Mahon 4 months ago
i couldn't imagine a better book to read for October. Having grown up on Stephen king, I'm always looking for a fantastic epic horror story and this one did not disappoint. The fact that Kate reminded me of my own mother certainly didn't hurt, but isn't that what great writers do? They craft characters so real that they feel like someone you know or in some cases yourself? (I must've read Perks of Being a Wallflower 7 times because Charlie reminded me of myself.) It's hard to write a review because I'm so conscious of spoilers. I don't want to ruin anyone's good time. I was so grateful, I knew nothing about the book before I read it. Every turn, horror and shock kept me glued to the page. It usually take me months to read a book, I read Imaginary Friend in two days because I couldn't stop reading. I plan on reading again before Halloween. One warning -- KEEP THE LIGHTS ON ALL OVER THE HOUSE WHEN YOU READ IT!! It gets scary, but that is why I bought it. I LOVE to be scared and Imaginary Friend made me sleep with at least one light on. I cannot wait for this to be a movie, and if Perks is anything to go on, Mr. Chbosky will write and direct it. If you want to be scared out of your mind, I have three words -- The. Hissing. Lady. And another three words -- Read. This. Book.
Melodious 4 months ago
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Received an arc from NetGalley for an honest review. Thank you NetGalley for giving me the opportunity of reading this amazing book. As soon as I heard that Stephen Chbosky was writing another book I got insanely excited, without even knowing what the book was about. What I had in mind was something in the same genre as his last book, Perks of Being a Wallflower. This book is almost the complete opposite of that, and for that I am grateful. This book was very intimidating to me. 700 freaking pages. For some people that's nothing. They can read four times that amount in a month! Before jumping into this 700 pages seemed like an excessive amount, and some of the other reviews I have seen believe that this book could've been shorter. And I agree, but I don't at the same time. This book wouldn't have been as intense or crazy had it been any shorter. The action-packed last half of the book would've felt incredibly rushed had this book been shorter. Chbosky truly took me for a ride. It was like riding a roller coaster that starts out really slow, but the intensity continues to grow as you climb up the incline of the plot. But as you're climbing the incline, everything goes pitch black so you can't anticipate what the rest of the ride entails. Before you know it, everything is speeding up and there are so many unexpected twists and turns that continue until the very end of the ride. That is this book in a nutshell. The first half of the book builds the story, creates a foundation for you to feel connected to the characters. Not just Christopher or Kate either but also for the side characters that you barely know anything about, you learn just the perfect amount to remember them and their stories later down the line. All of the characters had their quirks but that is what made them interesting. The different backstories and unsaid trauma that they've gone through left me intrigued and wanting to know more about them. Another part that made both the characters and the overall story more enjoyable was the attention to detail. I feel like this book would've been very lackluster had there not been such carefully placed descriptions throughout the entirety of the book. You know the details of the setting, characters, their thoughts, the vibe of the room and other people surrounding the scene. It makes it feel more true to life, at least in the first half. The descriptions in the second half of the book are meant to incite fear. It's supposed to be as crazy as it sounds. The fact that that first part seems so real due to the descriptiveness, it makes the second half more crazy like, "How is this happening?? There is no way this is really happening.." I had many guesses throughout the book of what was going to happen and none of my guesses were correct. Usually I know I'm far off but this time I felt like my intuition was close, but I couldn't have been more off. I loved how it kept me guessing. I was never bored with what was going on because something was always happening, even if it was subtle. Another thing I liked was how the plot connected all of the characters. It wasn't like they were all separate. Some parts of the plot connected a set of characters and then one of those characters to another and another. That is another part that made me feel so invested in all of them is because their stories were all somehow related, at least that's how I saw it. I would very much recommend this to people who like horror/suspense.
TeacherMrsB 12 days ago
I received a complimentary copy of Imaginary Friend from NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Who knew treehouses could be so sinister? This was a very long novel, which I did not mind for most of the book. I was 100% engaged for the better part of a week until towards the end when I expected events to begin wrapping up. When they didn't, the story became pretty redundant, however. Repeatedly entrapped by his nemesis, the little boy main character, Christopher, lived out similar situations to the point where I felt like I had actually read some of those parts before. Overall, it was a very original book. I loved the plot and a huge twist/"aha" moment towards the middle-end. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.
Anonymous 13 days ago
I have no idea where all these glowing rviews are coming from, as I did not care for this book at all! It appears to be a Stephen King "wanna be", and in my opinion, falls WAY short. It's also about 300 pages too long. I was very disappointed!
Anonymous 15 days ago
This was fantastically frightening!! A mysterious wood, a small town and a imaginary friend. All the elements needed for a truly scary story. This is my first book by this author. He has a great sense of place and I felt as is I was there in the Mission Woods fighting evil with Christopher the tiny hero of our story. This story is truly unique and kept me coming back for more , exciting to the last page.
Mel-Loves-Books 16 days ago
“Adults are bad at remembering how powerful they can be because somewhere along the line, they were shamed for their imagination.” I am not typically a fan of horror, though I have been tipping my toes into the genre a bit lately, but when I read about this book by Stephen Chbosky I felt very drawn to it. I am very glad I decided to read it. There is so much depth to this story and so much truth in the horror and the battles. The author has taken actual horrors of our world like child abuse, deep loss, and hatred and tied it to an epic battle of nightmares and hell. It puts in the readers face the need to examine the boundaries of what children see and go through, versus what the adults around them are willing to hear and believe. It is a book about good versus evil and forgiveness and freedom. I was moved by so much of the story and I still thinking of the multiple levels and meanings. This is definitely a huge contender for me for one of my favorite reads of the year. I give it a bazillion stars and hearts. “It doesn’t take violence to kill evil. It takes good.”
Anonymous 22 days ago
where were the editors? Far too long and clearly written to become a grade B movie. Totally repetitious and borrows themes from Dan Brown and other authors.
Anonymous 22 days ago
where were the editors? Far too long and clearly written to become a grade B movie. Totally repetitious and borrows themes from Dan Brown and other authors.
Anonymous 24 days ago
I didn't know what to expect, other than great characters (the author nails the humanity of his characters), so I was delighted to become engrossed in a tale that grabs you with a mystery and then hits you with reveals you'd never suspect. It draws you in slowly, establishing its world, and then BAM, you're off on a rollercoaster ride that's scary but never loses heart. I always cared about what came next.
Nom_de_Pl00m 25 days ago
Nail-biter read! I read in one sitting! I began this book around 8:00 pm and the time flew by so fast, I heard early morning birds singing around 6:30 am! It was that good. A deeply involving story that kept me on a true emotional rollercoaster ride. With the lifelike flawed but likable characters, I became part of the story. What an amazing read. I couldn’t get enough.
Nursebookie 27 days ago
Kate Reese and her son Christopher, flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night and end up in the small community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania - just one highway in, one highway out. Everything seems to be going well until Christopher disappears for six days. When Christopher was found, he seems to be a different person – one who doesn’t struggle with reading or learning, helping her mother win the lottery, and a voice that is telling him to build a treehouse in the woods by Christmas, or something terrible may happen to everyone. I absolutely adored this book! Though it is 700+ pages, the book read very quickly. It had a lot of elements of the supernatural and it is quite scary in some parts. Horror is not my genre but I simply adored this book. Maybe it’s because I loved Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower from 20 years ago and seeing that he is back with this book really piqued my interest. I am so glad I read this amazing book. I loved every page of this masterpiece.
ALFR 3 months ago
THIS BOOK. My God, this book. This book put the fear of God into me. Not in a lock-the-doors-twice-and-make-sure-there’s-nothing-hiding-in-the-closet kind of way. That would be too simple. Stephen Chbosky’s “Imaginary Friend” evoked in me an existential terror for the fate of my soul and the soul of the world. Of the many twists and turns that I never saw coming, the biggest one was that Stephen Chbosky’s “Imaginary Friend” made me want to be a better person. Wildly different from Chbosky’s previous novel and cultural phenomenon, “The Perks of Being A Wallflower;” this fresh, empathetic, heartfelt examination of morality and the effects of personal choice on oneself and others is something that both books share. But because Chbosky is a master of pop, “Imaginary Friend” couches its deepest questions in a fearsomely entertaining, heart-stopping page-turner that had me in its thrall through the wee hours of the morning. With a filmmaker’s sense of the visual, Chbosky sets the scene with vivid images that place us side by side with characters we root for (or against) as they take each harrowing step. Every character in the book goes to extremes, but Chbosky never relegates even the most “minor” of characters to black and white. Instead, Chbosky employs his trademark deep empathy and almost childlike curiosity to turn each character over and inside out to find out what makes them tick. In short order, I felt I knew these characters as well as if I had lived in the same small town with them my whole life. Combine all of this with a startlingly original playfulness of format, “Imaginary Friend” practically breathes and bleeds in your hands. Normally, when I come across an arresting sentence or passage, I will stop to pore over every word, and sometimes copy it into my Notes to savor it long after I’ve finished the book. With “Imaginary Friend,” I found myself flagging pages to return to later, because I needed to know what happened next! There were soon too many to count, so I can’t wait to start over from page one. “Imaginary Friend” is much more than a horror novel. It is a towering epic worthy of the canon of Great Books that confronts the deepest questions of humanity. It is also entertaining as H-E-double hockey sticks. Read it now so you can fully appreciate the brilliant film that is sure to follow.
ekehlet 3 months ago
Imaginary friend starts off slow and gentle, makes you start to feel a bit uneasy, then takes off like a rollercoaster with no safety belts. I read a bit here and there until I got about a third of the way in (and enjoyed what I was reading), and then couldn't put it down. I had to know what was happening, what was real, what was not, and how it was going to turn out. The book was a little shocking at times, occasionally confusing (temporarily so), but definitely thrilling. All of the apparently separate storylines come together perfectly in the end. It leaves the reader with enough of a question to keep thinking about it long after it ends, but not enough for the ending to be unsatisfying.
S_White_1218 4 months ago
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. I can't believe I didn't DNF this one. It was over 700 pages, and at least half of that could have been edited out to tighten up the plot and get to the action faster. There was a lot of repetition, and seriously, there were multiple climax points of the story. The "big final battle" happened three or four times. Much of the story never made sense, and if it was allegorical, well, it didn't really do well on that front either. Overall, I was invested in a handful of the characters, so I stuck it out for them, but I didn't much enjoy the book. It was a rambling, poorly plotted, "trying too hard to write a Stephen King-esque epic horror fantasy and not succeeding," confusing mess of a book. I hate giving poor reviews of novels, but alas, I promised honesty. I can't really say I recommend this one much at all.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Kate has finally escaped the abusive man she was dating. She snuck out during the night with her son Christopher. They find a small town where she thinks they will be safe. Until Christopher vanishes. He is gone for 6 days and comes back in perfect health, but nobody can see the changes inside his head. Christopher has a mission. One he must complete by Christmas Day. The next few weeks will lead Christopher and Kate to a fight for their lives, and those they have grown to love. All I could think while reading this book was “is this really the same author as The Perks Of Being A Wallflower?” This book was so different. It’s kind of hard to actually give a full review on this one because it is so different from anything else I have ever read. It’s definitely weird, but also kept me wondering what was happening. I would say overall I really enjoyed the reading experience but I still can’t decide how I feel about the story. It’s a long book at over 700 pages, but it did not feel that way at all while reading. I flew through this one. I would recommend this book just for the aspect of stepping outside the box and reading something so different from what is out there. This book is certainly unique.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Kirkus: "Chbosky returns with a creepy horror yarn that would do Stephen King proud." Me: I agree. I discovered Stephen King when I was 11 years old. My mother had a book of the month club membership and one afternoon the postman brought a box containing a massive thing titled The Stand. It sat and sat on the bookshelf, (perhaps my mother thought it "looked too long") until one day, when it was raining and I had nothing else to do, I grabbed it. I've never let it go since. It remains one of the most important books in my life. One of the reasons that book remains so important to me, despite the fact that it's been over 30 years since I first read it, is that the characters are so clear and the themes are eternal. And these are the very reasons that has me not just liking, but rather loving, Imaginary Friend. Chbosky has many, many gifts, but perhaps his most extraordinary one is his ability to capture the essence of an innocent heart. In Perks, he dealt with the breaking and then rebuilding of one. In Friend, he puts that innocent heart in peril, and we are on the edge of our seats. This is a book about family and community, despair and redemption. It's beautiful. And, as to the length, well -- if the journey is good, I don't want it to end. 700 pages was just right for me, and I loved these characters so much, I'd have ridden along with them even longer.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Great characters, as you would expect -- but sooooo scary, which you might not expect from the author of Perks! I hope Stephen Chbosky keeps working in this genre. It's such a great fit for him.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Have been eagerly awaiting Stephen Chbosky's next book and Imaginary Friend went way above and beyond my incredibly high expectations! I couldn't recommend this enough. It's original, it's terrifying, it's horror at it's best. This dude killed it once again!
Anonymous 4 months ago
I am not normally a fan or horror, but I adored this book. It is brilliant. It brims with heart and tenderness and humanity, and is at once a totally terrifying page turner you won't be able to put down. Absolutely unforgettable characters I feel in love with right away--though the genre is entirely different, Chbosky's rare brand of empathy is instantly recognizable. Here is an author who is able to truly see the darkness, and still find light--for me, for me, one of the greatest possible achievements of art.
Anonymous 4 months ago
I'll be honest, I really wasn't sure what to expect when I heard that Mr. Chbosky was following up his excellent first novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, with a horror novel. It seemed such a radical departure in tone and style from the depth and tenderness of Perks. Not an easy task for a writer to shift gears so extensively. I am thrilled to report that I.F. far and away exceeded my expectations. It's the best horror novel I have read in ages. Gonna spare spoilers and stay away from too much detail, but suffice it to say Chbosky crafts his story and characters with such impressive thought and detail that you can't help but pulled in more and more with each successive page. I found it, at any one time, engaging, hypnotic, suspenseful, and terrifying. I was rapt from page 1 to the closing page. Bravo! A supremely impressive sophomore effort, and illustrative of his prowess as a writer with staying power. Looking forward to seeing where his muse takes him next. Hopefully, we won't have to wait so long for round 3.
ProsaicThoughts 4 months ago
Well, this is without a doubt my favorite horror novel this decade. I'm a big Stephen King fan, as Chbosky clearly also is, and it struck me throughout this novel (and especially as it nears its climax) that IMAGINARY FRIEND offers a unique perspective on Uncle Stevie's territory, for reasons I can't say without spoiling anything. So long as you go into this behemoth knowing it's over 700 pages, and that this is a novel that isn't afraid to tackle some big picture themes head-on, you'll be in for an absolute treat. I've been telling my fellow readers that this book tackles parenthood and faith the way PERKS tackled growing up. Come to it with that in mind and you'll probably fall in love with this book the same way I did. IMAGINARY FRIEND is not PERKS, it's something different and special in its own right, and deserves to be celebrated and widely read as such.
Bartlet4America 4 months ago
What a journey! I can't remember the last time a novel had consumed me so completely... it may be all the way back to Stephen King's 'The Stand'! In this era of immediate gratification and short attention spans, it's a gift to escape into a book of this size and magnitude. It captured my interest from the first line of the book and it's the perfect story for cozying up to a warm mug of cider while wrapped in a big, soft blanket. Small town mysteries, a family on the run, the literal powers of good and evil, and, as someone who grew up religious, a beautiful and relatable message about faith -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Once finished I immediately had to go back and read certain sections because I know there were things I missed. All I can say at this point is I cannot WAIT for this to be turned into a film or TV show!
Dianne57 4 months ago
I really must commend all the readers and reviewers that read and loved this book. I am at 81% right now and have the most incredible headache from reading this tome! I don't know what is pushing me more -the fact that I can't 'not' finish an ARC? That everyone else loved it and I am really disliking it? That I have more questions than the book has answered? My problems are many: Firstly, I am a Baby Boomer and that means my favorite horror writers will always be Stephen King, Robert McCammon and those of that ilk. I am not averse to reading new horror authors if they can be unique. When a modern author tries to do what they (the original kings of the horror genre) did and can't do it well and I can see it in the first 100 pages or so, it does not bode well. Secondly, I have issues with some of the, well for lack of a better term, the time period. It is supposed to be (I am assuming) modern times. But some of the things the author talks such as Special Education, Floods or High Waters for pants, or amazement at a school having a computer lab rings of the entire book being written back in the '70s, not just the first few chapters which do take place in the '50s. Thirdly, many many characters and more than I could keep straight as well as the, moods, evil people and what-not. I also had a lot of problems relating these characters to 7-year-olds. Lastly, The usage of capitalization in the middle of words is unique and is what finally brought this migraine on. It, in my opinion, is extremely difficult to read in this manner, but I can see why the author wants us to read these parts with difficulty. A bad move -he could have used italics but I'm not the author. IF I finally finish the entire book and I change my mind about any of this I'll let you know. *ARC supplied by the publisher.