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Imaginary Friend

Written by: Stephen Chbosky
Narrated by: Christine Lakin
Length: 24 hrs and 32 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (43 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A young boy is haunted by a voice in his head in this "haunting and thrilling" (John Green) epic of literary horror from the number-one New York Times best-selling author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

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 audiences 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. Listent to it with the lights on.

©2019 Stephen Chbosky (P)2019 Hachette Audio

What the critics say

"Imaginary Friend has been a long time coming. And like a fine Bordeaux, it rewards that wait in countless ways. This is a fearsome, remarkably ambitious novel that breaks through the boundaries of the horror genre to become epic - in all the best senses of the word." (Lincoln Child, number-one New York Times best-selling coauthor of Verses for the Dead and City of Endless Night)

"If you aren't blown away by the first fifty pages of Imaginary Friend, you need to get your sense of wonder checked." (Joe Hill, number-one New York Times best-selling author of The Fireman and NOS4A2)

"Imaginary Friend is a sprawling epic horror novel that hearkens back to the classics of the 1970s Golden Age, but, like Stranger Things, with a twinkle in its malevolent eye. Enormous, scary fun." (Dan Chaon, best-selling author of Ill Will)

A Literary Hub Most Anticipated Books of 2019

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent, pulled me right in!

Loved this book right from the start. The narrator does an amazing job! This is a definite must listen!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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A horror that takes forever.

The narration was excellent. Christine Lakin was engaging and her performance for each character was diverse. Although, the adult males did blend a bit for me, I don't believe anyone could have done a better job potraying the opposite gender.
Here is a run down of the book.
Length: The book is a 22 hour book, and that's fine, but it felt 22 hours long. Half way through the book, it feels as though the story is coming to an end, and that ending continues on for 11 more hours.
Writing: Stephen Chbosky is a good writer, though his metaphors aren't particularly insightful or deep, his imagery is adequate and his writing style is smooth and flows well.
Content: I live for horror, I love everything scary and horror related, and while this book had some good horror elements to it, it felt more like a Christian using horror to spread Christianity. I am not opposed to text exploring or using religious ideas, I'm a huge fan of work from the 18th and 19th century and plenty of that work dealt with religion, but this comes across as preachy. Once you see where Chbosky is taking you, it's so obvious and forced that it's hard to continue.
Overall the horror is good, but not good enough to give this book a read. I mainly sat through it because of Christine Lakin and her engaging narration.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Couldn't finish it, too many similes!

I tried really hard to finish this book. I got about halfway through before the amount of similes that the author kept using got the best of me. I just couldn't bear another 10 hours of simile overuse. I'm pretty sure the book would be only about half the length if all of the similes were removed. The storyline itself was quite interesting, I think that's what kept me going for so long.

The narrator was wonderful though, she did such a fantastic job of all the different characters and her voice was absolutely a pleasure to listen to.

I wish that whoever edited this story had cautioned the author against the overuse of similes. It really would have made the book so much better and much more enjoyable. As it was I was just too irritated to finish it and had to return it.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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A total waste of time.<br />

I am so disappointed with this book. It sounded good and turned out to be a terrible disappointment. And all wrapped up in a stupid little bow at the end. simply awful. And way too long. ugh.

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Too Long

I was going to give it 4-5 stars but then it kept going and going ad nauseum. The story could have been told in half the length.

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  • JimmyD
  • 2019-10-03

Truly a marvel. Recommended!

I'm blown away by the imaginative storyline, but also seriously impressed with the readabilty (or listenability) of this book. Although the style is ultimately unique, with character-inner-dialogue reminiscent of Stephen King, plot elements reminiscent of Dean Koontz, and a depth and detail that reminds me of Peter Straub, I will now buy any future work of Chbosky's! If you enjoy horror stories and parallel realities, this is a must-read!

26 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Amanda de Asis
  • 2019-10-05

if you love Stephen King, you'll love this

This is like an epic Stephen King book. In the battle between good and evil, there are many climaxes and battles so try not be get frustrated by the length. There are many religious references so try to be open-minded instead of offended. I really loved this book.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • linda poe
  • 2019-10-04

Amazing

loved this just got done reading the institute by king so my expectations were high for another great book and this did not disappoint. pulled me in right off the bat and never let go!

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Addicted to Books
  • 2019-10-13

Perfect Narration!

This was a perfect October read. Eerie, creepy, scary, but not too gory. What made this book great was the narrator. Christine Laken did a phenomenal job! Her voice was a major part of the experience. She voiced every character uniquely and embodied every sound effect. I listened to this alone at night and definitely felt creeped out. The book was a little too long, but Ms. Laken made every minute enjoyable.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Janet K Swenson
  • 2019-10-06

WOW!

I was totally enthralled with this story and production. You will have to be able to set aside hours to listen.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • K. V.
  • 2019-11-08

Ummm...really?

As one reviewer said started out good...but man, how long IS this book. Waaaayyy too long if you ask me. And when the author starts talking about God, you’ll know what that is all about if you read the book, I just rolled my eyes and really wanted to return the book for my credit back. My daughter saw the book in a store and I strongly discouraged her from buying it...it’s just not worth the time. I will stick it out and finish it, I only have, gulp, 8 hours left to go. I thought this would be creepier and, well, the story is just not that intriguing. You may really like it, but, we’ll, I should have passed.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • C. Middleton
  • 2019-10-16

Worth it.

I was not a fan of Perks, so I was a little wary of Imaginary Friend, but I really loved this book. Every character was well-rounded and important, making the sleepy little town come alive with people you could imagine passing on your own street. The plot was imaginative and demanding. Although some pieces seemed to be dragged out for no reason, and the ending just a tad convoluted, I would highly recommend this. It’s always a treat when an author can write out of their usual genre!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-10-04

wow!!!

this was an amazing book!!!
I loved every second of it!!!!
I suggest this book to every book lover!

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary
  • 2019-10-17

One of the scariest books I've heard in years

I went into this not really knowing anything about the author or the premise. I never read "perks of being a wallflower" and didn't hold out excessive hope for being truly scared a la "the shining." Also, it's a verrrrrry long book. This is something I typically prefer but wasn't sure how a horror novel could sustain itself over so many hours.
I. Loved. It.
I'd rather not give anything away about the plot because I think that part of my enjoyment came from having no expectation. I will say that I thought the pacing was excellent and the narration superb. I cared about all of the characters and could easily tell them apart by the voice acting. The moments which were meant to be tense absolutely were and when it was meant to build or fall, it did. If it were made into a television show, this book could easily last three seasons- there is a LOT of time and story covered. Although, if you're like me and have a lengthy commute, you wont mind a bit. Unfortunately, I did find that my 5am dog walks on a long dark road, with woods on either side, became less enjoyable.
Highly recommended.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-10-15

This story is not about an imaginary friend.

I wish there had been some incling in the summary of this story that gave a clue it was all about religion. To each their own, but I was expecting a psychological thriller. This book was nothing of the sort. Very disappointed.

21 of 25 people found this review helpful