I’m going to tell you upfront that if you don’t like ambiguity in your books, you’d better look elsewhere.
Luke and Daniel are inseparable from the time Luke is six and Daniel shows up in the park. Daniel becomes Luke’s safety blanket as his parents get divorced, he deals with his mother’s increasingly dangerous mental breaks, and he navigates the social life of college. But what is Daniel? Imaginary friend? Ghost? Demon? A schizophrenic hallucination? Daniel becomes increasingly dangerous as Luke struggles to keep control over him over the course of his life.
The story is told completely from Daniel’s point of view, which has been an issue for many a reviewer. It didn’t bother me as much, as I realize the author was trying to make the story ambiguous and leave it up for interpretation. If he would’ve included Luke’s POV, I think the Daniel situation would’ve been explained better. As it is, it’s a sort of horror story, which often end in the reader going, ‘WTF just happened here?’. I’m a fan of horror, so this aspect doesn’t bother me.
What I did have a problem with was the pacing. I guess that’s the best way to put it. The beginning was extremely intriguing. I actually paused after the first chapter to tell my husband that I was wrapped up already. That’s very rare for me. But then, something happened. I’m not sure what. (And it wasn’t the horrible scene with the puppy, although I almost quit reading after that.) That’s why I decided to call it ‘pacing’. Things just seemed to fall apart about the time Luke grew up. And with that came the lack of interest on my part. It was too much about drugs and sex (not that I’m a prude, I just didn’t see the contribution to the story) and less about what was actually happening between Daniel and Luke. I read in the acknowledgements (I think) that this was originally a short story. I think it was probably better that way. I’d be willing to bet Luke growing up wasn’t included in the shorter version.
I’m really only giving it up to 3 stars because it did get me thinking. There are still some aspects of the story I don’t understand, and I read it over a week ago. If you’ve read it as well, read on and feel free to start a discussion in the comments. This is definitely a book that warrants further discussion!
**SPOILERS AHEAD** Read on at your own risk/to discuss book with me.
I normally try to avoid spoilers in my reviews, but this book leaves quite a bit to be discussed, and I couldn’t resist putting some of my own theories out there.
I’m surprised at the amount of reviewers who think this was a simple story of mental illness. I think it was pretty clear that the author implies the ‘imaginary friend’ to be something more supernatural. What kind of supernatural is up to the reader to interpret. My interpretation was that there was something in Luke’s family that made them susceptible to these types of ‘attachments’, but that Daniel was the ghost of a man who had committed suicide by they park the day Luke met him (hence Daniel being attracted to the newspaper headline and the people gathered on the street outside a nearby building the day they met). Daniel just doesn’t remember who he was, and Luke never knew.
Also, it just occurred to me…does anyone else think it’s possible that it was Luke talking to the little girl at the end? As in he is now the ‘imaginary friend’ for someone else?
And what was with the naked/trance/mask scene in the dorm room?