The Walls Around Us
Nova Ren Suma
Genre: Mystery, YA
Publication date: March 24th 2015
by Algonquin Young Readers
“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.
-A copy was provided by Algonquin Books for review-
Another fabulously strange book from Nova Ren Suma! The writing is brilliant, the way the story is told is mesmerizing and deeply disturbing. I just loved it!
First I have to say that the blurb reveals too much. I went into this without re-reading it, and I personally think that if I had known more than I did, the story would have lost the extra bit of magic that the unknown allows us to have. While this revelation is not exactly a twist – there’s no real “aha” moment – it does become an unsettling fact that you simply can’t ignore anymore, and discovering this through your own deductions makes the reading experience all the better – an experience that the blurb takes away. So my advice is to go into this one blind. If you enjoy thrillers, mind-f*cks, books that are outside the box, this one is for you, and that’s all you need to know!
We get a story told to us through two different voices: one is in juvenile detention center, the other is a dancer with a bright future. The two are complete strangers with nothing in common whatsoever – or so it seems, at least. However, this is not their story. This is the story of a girl with a promising life full of dazzle and fame. A girl whose life was turned upside down one tragic afternoon. A girl who is finally given a voice, if indirectly. Her story is unraveled through Violet and Amber’s perspectives, ambiguously at first, until we get the full picture and learn how everyone is connected. Their stories vacillate between innocence an evil, making us question who really deserves our sympathy. In Amber’s perspective we get a vibe that’s very Orange-is-the-New-Black-ish. There’s a tense atmosphere, a wavering group dynamic, a human instinct of self-preservation, but at the end of the day these girls are a family, and together they stand. Amber’s story is full of longing and despair, yet she’s the easiest to root for. Then we have Violet, whose perspective is infused with determination and energy, yet seem to be oozing this… darkness. I wasn’t as compelled by Violet’s POV, though this could be due my wanting to get back to Amber. Still, she’s intriguing and it’s curious how their stories intertwine.
As is usual for Nova Ren Suma, the writing is wonderfully cryptic, highly atmospheric, with a touch of strange. You can’t help but become compelled – spellbound, even – by her words. She paces the mystery perfectly, giving us hints that seem to only play with our minds until everything starts interconnecting, making brilliant sense, finally. The ending is very… final, if a little bit shocking. I’m still unsure how I feel about how it ended, but I was satisfied nonetheless. Unique and unforgettable, The Walls Around Us is not to be missed!