5.09.2015

Review: The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

Title: The Walls Around Us
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Publication Date: March 24th, 2015
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Pages: 336
ISBN: 1616203722
Source: ARC from NetGalley
Rating: 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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 the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there's Amber, locked up for so long she can't imagine freedom.

Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls' darkest mysteries…

What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?

In prose that sings from line to line, Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other.  
  


Nova Ren Suma is the author of the YA novels THE WALLS AROUND US as well as the YA novels IMAGINARY GIRLS and 17 & GONE, which were both named 2014 Outstanding Books for the College Bound by YALSA. Her middle-grade novel, DANI NOIR, was reissued for a YA audience under the title FADE OUT. 

She has a BA in writing & photography from Antioch College and an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and has been awarded fiction fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Millay Colony, and an NEA fellowship for a residency at the Hambidge Center. 

She worked for years behind the scenes in publishing, at places such as HarperCollins, Penguin, Marvel Comics, and RAW Books, and now she teaches writing workshops. She is from various small towns across the Hudson Valley and lives and writes in New York City. 


Two words: BOOK HANGOVER. Ever since I've finished this book I've been begging everyone I know to read it so I can have someone to discuss it with. It was just that good.

May it be noted that you will either love this book or hate it. If you don't mind being confused the majority of the book because you're trying to figure out what exactly is happening..then you'll enjoy the mystery and intrigue that keeps you unsettled throughout the entire storyline. Here's how I sum up the plot:

You have two ballerinas, Ori and Violet. Ori has a natural-born talent for her craft, but Violet is the big green jealousy monster who stands in Ori's shadow. Violet might be crazy, but we aren't sure. Violet may have murdered two other dancers out of blinding fury, or maybe Ori did it. Perhaps they both worked in tandem, but we aren't sure of that either.

Then you have Amber who's the longest standing resident of the juvenile detention center that Ori is sent to (even though she might be innocent), and she may have killed a guy, but then again, maybe she didn't.

Then there's a mysterious mass poisoning that may have killed everyone. Oh, and there might be ghosts. But we don't know if that's the reality or just hallucinations.

Frankly, we aren't too sure of anything. Maybe the reader is the crazy one? The plot thickens...

The Walls Around Us reads in the context of maddening confusion, and I loved every moment of it. It kept me turning pages so I could hope to find answers, and even now I still have questions. The reader is left to determine how exactly the book really ended. It was just so good!

Nova Ren Suma's writing is exquisite, but not complicated. Her execution is artful without taking away from the story. The writing itself is easy to understand, while the movement of the plot is what keeps the mystery hanging around the text.

This book is entirely character driven, so most of our time is spent watching the characters develop during and after the action, and it is their thoughts that reveal to us what is happening.

You will like this book if you like mystery, focusing mostly on the characters, enjoy realistic fiction with a touch of (possible) paranormal, and enjoy a novel that does not tie a neat little bow at the end.

You will not like this book if you want a more plot-driven storyline, too much character insight bores you, you don't like being confused during the majority of the book, and you want to have all the answers by the time you close the cover. That's just not going to happen.

If you do decide to read this book, tell me your thoughts, because there are so many more aspects that I would like to discuss with someone! Anyone. Seriously. Even if you didn't like it, I just need to talk about it. And you probably will too, because you will no doubt have a book hangover in some capacity like I do a whole week later.

But really, someone please read this book,