Memoirs Of An Imaginary Friend
My name is Budo.
I have been alive for 5 years.
5 years is a very long time for someone like me to be alive.
Max gave me my name. Max is 8 years old.
He is the only human person who can see me.
I know what Max knows, and some things he doesn’t.
I know that Max is in danger.
And I know that I am the only one who can save him.
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend has been compared to Room and having now read both I can definitely see the similarities. Although I had my reservations to begin with, by the time I’d reached the end of the book I was also convinced that they are equally captivating reads.
The story is told from the perspective of Budo: an imaginary friend to a troubled, 8-year-old little boy called Max. While it is never officially confirmed in the book, it seems like Max is suffering from some sort of obsessive compulsive disorder – he hates change, loves order and struggles to interact with other people, even his own parents. When Max is abducted by an unlikely captor only Budo knows where he is. But since Max is the only living person who can see or hear him, how can he go about saving him?
Anyone who enjoyed the film Drop Dead Fred will probably appreciate this book. While Budo is far better behaved than Rik Mayall’s mischievous character, the idea of a loving, loyal imaginary friend is still relevant as is the concept that all imaginary friends come in different guises. This was an aspect of the novel that I really loved. Matthew Green describes the nature of imaginary friends in such a creative way, yet when you stop and think about it his ideas make perfect sense. We learn about the practical problems of being an imaginary friend – many aren’t imagined with the ability to pass through doors and since they can’t touch or move anything in the real world, they end up getting trapped in places. Some can’t talk and many don’t have eyebrows because their creators haven’t imagined such fine details about their appearance. Often they don’t look anything like people – they may be animals or even inanimate objects such as spoons or hair ribbons. And while some can live for years, other may only exist for a few minutes depending on how long the child needs and remembers them for.
This is another source of anguish for Budo. He is torn between wanting Max to grow into a happy, well adjusted boy, and his own desire for self preservation. Once Max no longer needs him he will fade away and cease to exist. And where do imaginary friends go when they die? This is a question we do get an answer to, although I would have liked it to be explored a little more.
If I had one criticism of this book it would be that it took a while to get going, and some of the middle chapters were a little long-winded and overanalysed. However, this did build suspense for the dramatic climax at the end of the novel that literally had my heart racing.
I always have a lot of respect for authors who think outside of the box and set themselves the challenge of writing from such an unusual viewpoint. Green achieves this beautifully with Budo and is very clever in the ways in which he presents things to the reader. Budo shows us rather than tells us, and the reader is left to derive meaning from the things he sees, such as the fraught relationship between Max’s parents.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a heartwarming yet dramatic read. It reaches out to an adult audience despite being told through the voice of what is essentially a child’s imagination. It made me want an imaginary friend of my very own.
Thanks to Little Brown for sending me this book to review.