Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: March 24th, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
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“Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”
The Walls Around Us is a ghostly story of suspense told in two voices—one still living and one long dead. On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement. On the inside, within the walls of a girls’ juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Tying these two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries.
We hear Amber’s story and Violet’s, and through them Orianna’s, first from one angle, then from another, until gradually we begin to get the whole picture—which is not necessarily the one that either Amber or Violet wants us to see.
Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and innocence, and what happens when one is mistaken for the other.
I was actually not aware that Suma was publishing another book so when I saw this one popping up on Netgalley, I nearly fell out of my seat. No exaggeration, peoples. Seventeen & Gone was when the author stole my heart, and tucked it away some place where I’ll never find it again. And while The Walls Around Us did not deliver the same effect, I am still amazed by Suma’s amazing writer-abilities. Her books are castles, and you’d be mad not to see it that way.
Nova Ren Suma writes with a certain flare, and admittedly, her style isn’t made for every reader. (Yeah, that’s right, her writing is too brilliant for some of you – kidding…) This book has a little bit of everything thrown into it, but at it’s very heart, this is the story of three girls; Amber, Violet and Ori. But, we only get two perspectives – Amber, who killed her step-father and is now trapped in a Juvenile Detention Centre, and Violet, a ballerina with a bright future at Juilliard. These two girls have no links, yet, throughout the story we see how these two girls’ stories are entwined; and how they connect to tell the story of Ori, who is arguably the main character of this tale. I’m sure many other readers are going to agree with me on this; I was much more interested in Amber’s chapters as opposed to Violet’s. Ballerinas? Blah… But a jail filled with juvenile criminals? That’s more like it!
Unfortunately, though, I couldn’t connect with the characters all too well. Particularly Ori, who was meant to be the centre of the show. I think that it was the hugest downside to not giving her a POV in the novel – because as the readers, we can’t fully established a link with her.
We were alive. I remember it that way. We were still alive, and we couldn’t make heads or tails of the darkness, so we couldn’t see how close we were to the end.
If I were to describe this book to someone, I’d say it was the most unhinging, disturbing and strangest book I’ve ever picked up. Amber’s POV is told mostly with “we”. Suma aimed to creep us out with the refreshing albeit creepy use of inclusive pronoun, and she totally succeeded. It did actually remind me of that time I read Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, which also had perspectives using inclusive pronouns. So if you found that to be your jam, read no further, this book will be something you might enjoy. Despite this book being creepy as hell (though I would argue that’s not necessarily a bad thing), this book was insanely atmospheric. Some books just lull you in with it’s strong atmosphere, and like Seventeen & Gone, this novel was the case. This story isn’t a fairy-tale – the atmosphere is thick, tense and well, like I’ve mentioned millions of times before, strange. BUT good strange. Interesting strange. Unique strange.
They say nothing, do nothing. I can hear them all breathe.
I did feel that this story lacked a plot. I don’t want to elaborate because then I’d be spoiling, but this book constantly felt like it was missing something. A real backbone, a strong sense of direction… which this story was obviously lacking. I like the idea of reading between the lines to connect the dots of Ori’s story, but at the same time, it draaaaagged. I did get bored, and I sometimes had a strong temptation to skim Violet’s chapters because Amber’s just interested me so much more.
In all, The Walls Around Us was a unique and heavily atmospheric read infused with elegant prose and intricate characters. While this was not my favourite book of hers due to some qualms, I still recommend checking Suma’s work out.
~Thank you Algonquin Books for sending me this copy!~
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