Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma {review}

The Walls Around Us 
by Nova Ren Suma
♦publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
♦release date: March 24th, 2015
♦hardcover 336 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦source: from publisher for honest review
“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.

Review: This book. Wow. I’ve read other books by Nova Ren Suma before and she has such a gorgeous, haunting, and sometimes gritty writing style. The Walls Around Us is definitely no exception to that.  I haven’t read anything like it before and I thought it was stunning.

In this story, two girls tell their tales of guilt, regret, truth, and vengeance.  Violet is a serious ballet dancer, clawing her way to the top.  She’s about to leave for Julliard, doing one last show with her current school, when she receives a gruesome gift that makes it clear that the past is not forgotten. Three years ago, her best friend, Orianna, was charged with murder and sent to a detention facility, and only Violet knows what truly happened.  The other girl, Amber, is an inmate at the facility who crosses paths with Orianna---but she’s been dead for three years.

Amber and Violet are both bold, unforgettable voices full of emotion, hurt, guilt, and near madness at times. It’s incredibly fascinating getting inside each one’s thoughts and emotions, seeing how they think after the the things they have both done and been through.
The two (three actually, if you count Orianna, though she is only spoken of by the other two) characters are developed in a way that makes you care for them and not trust them and so curious about what will happen to them all at once.  The story in unrelenting in its intensity, told in line after line of beautifully crafted prose that sear themselves into your mind. There are scenes in this story that I don’t think I will ever forget. And it’s all in the way they are written---the truth seeps out in almost abstract ways that sneak up on you, then suddenly it’s crystal clear and knocking you sideways. 

It's an absolutely mezmerizing story from start to finish. The Walls Around Us is a daunting and gritty tale, but one that you do not want to miss. 
Find Nova Ren Suma online: Website  •  Twitter 

Purchase the book:  Indiebound  •  BookDepository  •  Amazon


  1. I completely agree with everything you've said here Becky. This was such an odd book, but in the best possible way. The characters were so real and well-developed, and the way everything eventually comes together is pheonominal. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous post! <3

    ~ Zoe @ Stories on Stage

  2. This is probably the first time I've read a review for The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma where I felt compelled to read this story too. If I read other reviews I don't remember reading any because none explained what was so beautiful (or horrible) about the story in general. I'm glad that I finally was given a reason to! :D

  3. I haven't read anything by her but I'll have to check this one out and think about adding it to our library's shelves. Sounds kind of dark with unreliable narrators. I wonder if fans of books like Gone Girl looking for something similar for teens would like this.

  4. This book has been on my wishlist ever since I first read the synopsis. It's great to know that it really is well written and that the story and characters are well-developed!

  5. OK, you sold this book to me. I so want to read it now! I haven't read Nova Ren Suma yet (even though I own both Imaginary Girls and Seventeen and Gone) so I definitely need to check those (and this!) out soon. I feel like I might really need to be in a particular kind of reading mood to enjoy her stuff though (not sure I'm making sense here!) because I started on Seventeen & Gone and just couldn't get into it - even though I know it's something I should like. I must give it another try soon.

  6. Yes yes yes. <3 This book was so perfect. And evil. And so damn good. Sigh. I also adore Nova :) Her writing is so stunning! And this was her best book yet, in my eyes :D I cannot wait to read more by her. <3 So so happy that you loved this book too Becky :) Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it. <3

  7. I'm so glad you enjoyed this one! I've heard mixed things and have been sort of putting it aside but I think I should move it up on my TBR. You definitely convinced me to read it!

  8. I've been wanting to read Nova Ren Suma's books for ages! They all sound so eerie and have such gorgeous covers. I think I'll start with this, the dancer/juvie bit caught me eye. :)

  9. ReanimatingOpheliaMarch 30, 2015 at 6:35 PM

    This book sounds really interesting. The dual voice narrative can be tricky, but I always enjoy reading that style. I've been meaning to give Nova Ren Suma a try- maybe I'll start with this one!